Marijuana and Schizophrenia
The outlook on smoking marijuana has changed drastically in the last decade. Thanks to those looking to profit and an ongoing nationwide campaign sweeping the nation filled with misinformation public opinion has softened in regards to marijuana abuse. There are many unbiased studies, by those looking for medicinal uses of marijuana, that have determined the chemical compounds in marijuana have toxic effects, particularly when smoked. To the average American with common sense, smoking anything would have harmful effects or so it would seem. Not true in today’s society.
Marijuana Abuse and Mental Problems
Studies have shown that the toxic effects of marijuana contributes to schizophrenia symptoms. In 2004, scientists with Department of Pharmacology at the University of California in Irvine, California and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Cologne in Cologne, Germany published a paper with their findings on cannabinoid receptors in the brain and the intense emotional and cognitive effects marijuana can have. Find the study here.
Marijuana abuse is frequent among schizophrenic patients (Kovasznay et al, 1997) and thought to precipitate psychotic symptoms. Scientists have found that psychoactive compounds in marijuana cause changes in brain function similar to schizophrenia. This suggests a link between psychoses and hyperactivity of the endogenous cannabinoid system in the brain.
In 1980s and 90s, scientists found cannabinoid receptors, which are long, strand looking proteins that embed into our cells and process Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC.THC is the chemical compound in marijuana that effects cannibinoid receptors. There are two types of these receptors (CB1 and CB2) throughout the body that each have different effects on the brain when processing THC. The book Marijuana and Medicine states that: [box] One of the primary effects of marijuana in humans is disruption of short-term memory. That is consistent with the abundance of CB1 receptors in the hippocampus, the brain region most closely associated with memory. The effects of THC resemble a temporary hippocampal lesion.[/box]
In other words, smoking marijuana damages the brain and its ability to function correctly.
Medical Marijuana and Responsibility
While there may be some medical benefit with the chemical compounds in marijuana but the widespread legalization which will lead to abuse and addiction is not the answer.The worst addiction problems we have are with legal drugs. Tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs are the leading cause of death and addiction and they are all legal. Legalizing marijuana without responsible distribution will cause more problems. Addiction treatment admissions are 30% higher in states with medical marijuana laws. Treatment for marijuana addiction has already surpassed addiction treatment admissions for other drugs in many states.
In 2010 the American Society of Addiction Medicine published a paper on the role of medical marijuana and the responsibility of physicians. They considered any therapeutic benefit marijuana may have and the negative effects of irresponsible distribution and legalization. The ASAM action committee, comprised of MD’s, PHD’s and psychiatrists determined that:
All cannabis‐based and cannabinoid medications should be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory process. This process provides important protections for patients, making medications available only when they: 1) are standardized by identity, purity, potency and quality; 2) are accompanied by adequate directions for use in the approved medical indication; and 3) have risk/benefit profiles that have been defined in well‐controlled clinical trials.