Clarity in Cannabis Policy: Canadian Research Insights
Many believe that the push for cannabis legalization has led to more people experiencing psychosis related to its use. However, looking at the facts, this isn't the case, especially in places like Canada where cannabis was made legal for adults in late 2018.
Canadian researchers looked at the numbers and found no link between legalizing cannabis and an increase in psychosis cases. Here's a summary of their findings from a NORML news release:
In London, Canada, researchers found that making cannabis legal didn't result in more cases of cannabis-related psychosis, as reported in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
The research team looked at how often people used health services for psychosis before and after cannabis became legal in October 2018. They noticed, "There was no sign of more people using health services or more cases of psychosis right after cannabis was legalized." But they also mentioned that they need to watch these trends for a longer time to really understand the effects of legalization.
This matches what a 2022 study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry said. It also found no significant increase in psychosis or schizophrenia cases in emergency departments after cannabis was legalized.
Similarly, in the United States, legalizing cannabis at the state level hasn't led to more psychosis-related health issues. A 2022 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open confirmed this, showing no link between legalization and psychosis rates or the use of antipsychotic drugs.
While it's true that people with psychotic illnesses might use cannabis more, the overall risk of cannabis-induced psychosis is very low, especially for those without a previous mental health diagnosis. A recent study showed that less than 0.5% of cannabis users ever experienced psychosis severe enough to need medical help, which is less than the risk from alcohol use.
The full study, titled "Impact of non-medical cannabis legalization with market restrictions on health service use and incident cases of psychotic disorder in Ontario, Canada," can be found in the International Journal of Drug Policy. NORML also has an op-ed titled 'Concerns surrounding cannabis and mental health must be placed in context, not sensationalized' for more information.
Source: International CBC