The conversation regarding the use of cannabis is often associated with side effects of "losing one's mind" where caution has always taken the form of advice that smoking of marijuana has negative mental health implications. On the flipside, the benefits of marijuana use in medicine are often the first line of defense for those who support the use of marijuana while ignoring warnings regarding mental health problems. The debate on whether smoking cannabis has an association with the development of neurotic disorders among adults is increasingly contentious due to opposing views. The analysis of scientific research proves that indeed, smoking cannabis causes neurotic effects among adults with consequences of psychotic symptoms.
Masood A Khan and Sailaja Akella advance that clinicians are in agreement that frequent cannabis use has the implication of causing adversely acute effects that can be likened to psychiatric disorders (Khan and Akella 44 ). Nonetheless, the authors acknowledge the fact that the evidence available to psychologists regarding the connection between cannabis use and development of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is very weak (Khan and Akella 45). For this reason, the experts advise that more research ought to be conducted to evaluate the relationship between the use of cannabis and the development of psychological disorders among users. Buadze Anna, Stohler Rudolf, Schulze Beate, Shaub Michae and Liebrenz Michael's research also affirms Khan and Akella's research that cannabis is not linked to psychosis where smokers themselves presented testimonies to the effect that they provided no link between psychosis and cannabis smoking rather, they attributed social pressures and other reasons to be behind psychosis (Buadze, Stohler and Schulze 25).
Similar sentiments by Weiser Mark and Shlomo Noy also indicate that cannabis use can affect mental health on two grounds. The first regards the age of the individual who is taking cannabis. Research shows that developing brains are susceptible to toxins present in cannabis that negatively affects users below the age of 18 years (Weiser and Noy 83). It is believed that the teenage years are the formative years of neural connections in the brain that support mental growth into adulthood (Weiser and Noy 82). However, the use of cannabis can cause synaptic pruning, which deletes connections of neurons and slows the development of white matter in the brain that is responsible for transmitting signals in the neurons (Weiser and Noy 83). Ultimately, the use of marijuana in the teenage years will result in brain damage that manifests as mental disorders in adulthood. Weiser and Noy have linked the early onset of schizophrenia among adults in their early 20s to the use of marijuana in their childhood and teenage years or formative years of brain development (Weiser and Noy 83). Notably, Weiser and Noy echo the findings by Buadze et al as pertains to cannabis being a causative agent in the development of psychosis as presented in the previous paragraph.
In a study that investigated the instance of vulnerability of teens to schizophrenia-like symptoms after smoking marijuana, teens from families with an ancestor who has a history of schizophrenia were treated as the experimental group whereas a control group of teens who did not have a history of schizophrenia were both exposed to marijuana use (Hall and Degenhardt 68). The study evaluated the two groups to find out which among them presented most cases of schizophrenia-like symptoms over a period of six months. The findings of the research were such that heavy and regular cannabis use ultimately manifested in symptoms of schizophrenia across both groups of participants. However, the study noted that more teens in the experimental group showed vulnerability to symptoms of schizophrenia as more of them were recorded to have shown the symptoms as compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that a history of schizophrenia in the family makes teen marijuana smokers vulnerable to the disease. In that regard, a link does exist between marijuana use and development of psychosis, which is especially manifest in individuals at risk of genetically inherited psychotic tendencies (Hall and Degenhardt 69).
According to Sweet Gary, Kim Sara, Martin Samuel, Washington Nicole B, and Brahm, Nancy, evidence based research also shows that regular consumption of marijuana serves to ramp up the quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingested into the bloodstream (Sweet et al. 157). The more the use of marijuana the higher the dose of THC taken up by the bloodstream. THC has been medically proven to be the psychoactive component of cannabis with ramifications for affecting areas of the brain responsible for the manifestation of emotional experiences (Sweet et al. 157). Further, the authors observe that the use of cannabis alongside synthetic cannabinoids, which include a mixture of other herbs that increase the THC effect of marijuana serve to manifest in symptoms of psychosis among users (Sweet et al. 157). The researchers who conducted a case study of a 47-year-old adult male who presented with symptoms of bizarre paranoia found that the patient had previously been admitted on several occasions owing to abuse of marijuana alongside other drugs of synthetic form such as cocaine. The researchers concluded that cannabis taken alongside synthetic cannabinoids have the implication of hastening or heightening the severity of psychosis symptoms among individuals who abuse such drugs (Sweet et al. 158). The evidence supports the thesis that indeed marijuana use does cause psychosis among adults.
Notwithstanding, the opposite side of the debate also presents convincing evidence that refutes the link between psychosis and marijuana use. In a study that evaluated patients of schizophrenia who frequently smoked marijuana, Buadze, Stohler and Schulze's first finding was that no link could be realistically traced between schizophrenia and patients' use of cannabis (Buadze et al. 23). Secondly, patients noted that their schizophrenia was primarily caused by the use of substances other than cannabis that is mixed with other hallucinogens. Thirdly, patients attributed their use of hallucinogens as a means of coping with a difficult upbringing (Buadze et al. 26). Fourth, patients noted that the use of cannabis is preferred as a therapeutic drug that assists in the reduction of effects of anxiety and tension. Therefore, the participants in the study saw the advantage of marijuana use rather than its disadvantages. Moreover, it was established that marijuana is a medicinal drug that is well respected in the medical field for its various uses including alleviation of physical pain (Buadze et al. 27). In fact, Buadze et al. advise that researchers should consider the positive aspects of cannabis as beneficial to health instead of forcing the notion of the existence of links between cannabis use and the risk of and other mental health sicknesses (Buadze et al. 22). Notwithstanding, Buadze et al.'s claims do not take away from the evidence based research findings by Sweet et al., Hall and Degenhardt, Khan and Akella, as well as Weiser and Noy, all of whom have found evidence consistent with the fact that marijuana is a cause of psychosis.
In conclusion, the evidence from scholarly research articles presented support the thesis that marijuana use is a causative agent of psychosis. Sweet et al.'s findings on the negative impact of THC on brain development and Hall and Degenhardt's conclusion that scizophrenia symtoms are higher among youth smoking marijuana than non-smokers prove that indeed marijuana use does cause symptoms of psychosis to manifest. Further, Khan and Akella's research also reviewed shows evidence consistent Weiser and Noy's findings that marijuana use in teenage years affects brain development, which leads to early onset of pyshcotic symptoms in early adulthood. Essentially, the evidence presetend in support of the thesis that marijuana is a causitive agent of psychosis outweighs the evidence to the contrary presented by Buadze et al., which leads to the conclusion that indeed, marijuana is a cause of mental disorders among adults as discussed.
Buadze, Anna, et al. "Do patients think cannabis causes schizophrenia? - A qualitative study on the causal beliefs of cannabis using patients with schizophrenia." Harm Reduction Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 22-29.
Hall, Wayne and Louisa Degenhardt. "Cannabis use and the risk of developing a psychotic disorder." World Psychiatry, vol. 7, no. 2, 2008, pp. 68-71. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424288/>.
Khan, Masood A and Sailaja Akella. "Cannabis-induced bipolar disorder with psychotic features: A case report." Psychiatry (Edgemont), vol. 6, no. 12, 2009, pp. 44-48. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811144/>.Sweet, Gary, et al. "Pychiatric symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use: Information for clinicians." Mental Health Clinician, vol.7, no. 4, 2017, pp. 156-159.
Weiser, Mark and Shlomo Noy. "Interpreting the association between cannabis use and increased risk for schizophrenia." Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, vol. 7, no. 1, 2005, pp. 81-85. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181719/>.
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