Two new research studies debate the causal relationship between cannabis use and the risk factor for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.
In an article entitled “Cannabis and psychosis: what causes what?” David Castle, M.D., of the University of Melbourne argues for a underlying link between cannabis use and an increased risk of psychotic symptoms.
But Castle offers the caveat that very few cases of schizophrenia would be prevented by a global abolition of cannabis.
This perspective is endorsed in an associated article calling for stronger evidence before declaring cannabis a possible causal factor in the development of schizophrenia.
Its authors argue that while acute psychotic experiences can be linked to cannabis use, the nature of the connection to schizophrenia inevitably remains much less certain.
In general, researchers argue that more robust evidence is required to determine whether preventing cannabis use will have any substantial impact on preventing psychotic disorders in the population, or within specific high-risk subgroups.
Nevertheless, both sides agree that cannabis is a public health concern and that the public should be made fully aware of the risks associated with using the drug.
Castle said this perspective is relevant for those who have a family history of schizophrenia or who have experienced psychosis-like symptoms, as they may be at greater risk.
Source: Faculty of 1000