The “Reefer Madness” era of the 1930’s could be the darkest time in cannabis history. During those years, propaganda against marijuana use was disseminated to the mainstream audience, arguing that consumption of the herb would lead to mental issues such as schizophrenia.

Of course, with an influx in research, and as more individuals become educated on the reality of cannabis use, the Reefer Madness stigma is slowly but surely being dissolved in pop culture. But there remains a link between cannabis and schizophrenia, and this is what we aim to explore in this article.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?

The common notion of schizophrenia is that it is pretty much like “split personality disorder” (dissociative identity disorder). When hearing this word, what may come to mind for some is Jim Carrey's year 2000 film “Me, Myself, and Irene”.

The reality is that schizophrenia is different from dissociative identity disorder, as those affected with the former are not as prone to violent behaviour as those with the latter. As defined by Leaf Science, schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that is mostly characterised by delusions and hallucinations. Those affected by this disorder commonly experience paranoia and hear voices in their head. At worst, some individuals lose the ability to speak and move.

Schizophrenia is believed to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. While there are a few forms of medication to treat it, medical experts have yet to find a cure for schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Cannabis

THE LINK BETWEEN CANNABIS AND SCHIZOPHRENIA

If you look for answers on whether or not cannabis can cause or aggravate the symptoms of schizophrenia, you will get varying results. According to one study, patients who suffered from schizophrenia were able to deal with their sickness better with the help of cannabis. Specifically, those patients who had experiences using the herb had better cognitive function than their contemporaries that did not.

However, another study revealed that people suffering from schizophrenia have had worse experiences with psychosis after marijuana use. But as explained by University of Calgary professor and researcher Dr Matthew Hill, cannabis use has become more and more prevalent since the 1960s and 70s, yet the occurrence of schizophrenia remains the same, which makes the correlation between the two a bit difficult to define and nail down.

CAN CANNABIS ACTUALLY TREAT SCHIZOPHRENIA?

With the continuous study of cannabis as medicine, there has also been research linking cannabis as a possible treatment for schizophrenia. But this is where we draw a firm line between the two main cannabinoids of the herb, CBD and THC.

THC is the main psychoactive component in marijuana, which could understandably worsen the symptoms of psychosis for some schizophrenia patients. Meanwhile, CBD is the non-psychoactive component that is used by patients seeking relief from other illnesses such as insomnia, anxiety, as well as pain and inflammation.

According to research conducted by the University of Wollongong, Australia’s Dr Katrina Green, while CBD was not able to improve aspects of learning and memory for those with healthy brains, it was able to do so for those stricken by cognitive impairment. These included ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Dr Green also pointed out that CBD is neuroprotective, and is able to reduce impairment brought on by the consumption of THC.

Those suffering from disorders such as schizophrenia are already living complicated lives, and it is natural for patients to gravitate towards forms of medicine like cannabis. Doing so, of course, should always be backed up by research and advice from medical experts.

As for cannabis itself, it is indeed a wonderful herb that has shown groundbreaking potential as a treatment for many conditions. But at the moment, there is no clear-cut indication that it is an effective be-all and end-all treatment for schizophrenia. In the meantime, it’s important to keep up with new research, and help spread the truth about cannabis as medicine.

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