A new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine has found that up to 30% of schizophrenia cases in young men may be related to heavy marijuana use. The study examined data from more than six million people in Denmark and discovered that the number of new instances of schizophrenia connected to cannabis use disorder has steadily increased since the 1970s, most likely as a result of the drug’s rising potency. This adds to the mounting evidence that heavy use of high-potency pot can be harmful for people’s mental health, particularly for young people.
The study’s lead author, Carsten Hjorthj, stated that “Increases in the legalization of cannabis over the past few decades have made it one of the most frequently used psychoactive substances in the world, while also decreasing the public’s perception of its harm.” This study furthers our developing understanding that using cannabis is not risk-free and that dangers do not exist in a static state.
The study found that if males had not previously developed cannabis use problem, 15% of schizophrenia cases among men between the ages of 16 and 49 may have been prevented. And for young men between the ages of 21 and 30, as many as 30 percent of schizophrenia cases may be linked to marijuana addiction. While the relationship between marijuana use and schizophrenia was strongly supported by the study’s findings in both men and women, it was more pronounced in young men.
The study’s co-author, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated that the connection between substance use disorders and mental illness continues to be a significant public health issue. Volkow emphasized the importance of increasing prevention, screening, and treatment for individuals who might have mental illness related to cannabis use as the availability of strong cannabis products continues to grow.