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Study says that regular use of cannabis by young adults revealed improvements in cognitive functionality and decreased use of medications



Photo: DR | Create.Vista

In innovative research focusing on adolescents and young adults susceptible to developing psychotic disorders, a recent study conducted in collaboration by three North American universities, refutes the statements that are usually made by critics who link the use of recreational cannabis with the appearance of psychosis. The researchers concluded that regular cannabis use over a two-year period did not lead to the early onset of symptoms associated with mental illness. On the contrary, the study highlights that this consumption is associated with improvements in cognitive functionality and a decrease in the use of medications.

Conducted in collaboration by experts from Zucker Hillside Hospital, from Stanford University School of Medicine, from University of Michigan and University of California at Davis, this comprehensive research effort was documented in the journal Psychiatry Research. The researchers state that “recreational cannabis use has become a topic of great interest as a natural catalyst for the onset of psychosis. However, evidence supporting the negative consequences of cannabis for individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis remains inconclusive.”

Research methodology and results

To delve deeper into this question, the research team closely followed 210 participants aged between 12 and 25, all of whom were identified as CHR patients. These individuals were enrolled in the Early Detection and Intervention Program for the Prevention of Psychosis (EDIPPP). Over the course of two years, a thorough examination was carried out to compare mental well-being and prescription medication use between regular cannabis users and non-users.

The study produced a significant revelation: “continued cannabis use over two years of follow-up did not correlate with an increased rate of transition to psychosis. Furthermore, it did not exacerbate clinical symptoms, functioning levels, or overall neurocognition.”

Subtle observations and implications

However, the researchers acknowledge that “our findings indicate that regular cannabis use may be marginally linked to elevated, although statistically insignificant, levels of attenuated positive symptoms compared to non-users.” They point out that “individuals with CHR who maintained a constant pattern of cannabis consumption showed an upward trajectory in neurocognition and social functioning over time, along with a simultaneous reduction in medication intake. Notably, despite medication reduction, there was an observable improvement in clinical symptoms over time.”

It is essential to clarify that The intention of this study is not to advocate the approval of cannabis use among young individuals or to propose cannabis as a therapeutic intervention for individuals prone to developing psychotic problems.. Instead, it contributes to the body of scientific literature that addresses the relationship between cannabis and psychosis. This is especially relevant in the context of opposition to the legalization of cannabis, often centered on the notion that high-THC cannabis strains could trigger illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Additional information from previous studies

In a distinct but pertinent investigation, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a study in January, analyzing data covering more than 63 million health insurance beneficiaries. The study revealed that states where cannabis has been legalized do not show a “statistically significant increase” in psychosis-related diagnoses when compared to states where cannabis remains illegal.

In short, the recent study provides valuable insight into the potential effects of regular cannabis use on individuals at risk of developing psychotic disorders. The results challenge prevailing assumptions and highlight the importance of continued scientific research into the complex relationship between cannabis and mental health.


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