According to previous research adolescents who smoke cannabis are slightly more at risk for a psychotic episode, though the majority never experience one. Still, the drug war movement has abused this small statistical correlation to make it seem like marijuana is driving our nation’s children crazy. New psychiatric research has concluded that cannabis does not cause psychotic episodes, but they can both occur given certain environmental factors such as economic disadvantages, bullying at school and a difficult home life.
The research on cannabis and psychosis used information from the Twins Early Development Study in Great Britain, part of a broader research program aimed at tackling the fight between nature and nurture. By analyzing sets of twins, they were able to determine the difference between genetic and environmental influences in smoking pot and psychotic episodes like paranoia or hallucinations.
They found that genetics only has a small role when dictating whether someone will use cannabis or develop psychotic episodes, and environmental factors play a much larger part. Genes won’t necessarily make a person love or hate pot, but they will influence how cannabis affects them individually.
They obviously could not look at all the possible environmental factors that influence a person to use cannabis or have psychotic episodes. Since these episodes don’t occur in the majority of cannabis users, it would seem that most people get exposed to “environmental factors” that make them smoke pot, and none of the ones that make them experience psychotic episodes.
A difficult home life, high stress, bullying, economic disadvantage, etc. can all be difficult for the psyche of an adolescent, regardless of marijuana use. Research like this will help school psychiatrists, social workers and police officers address the real problems that face America’s children.
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