By Miguel Ordoñez

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.


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,[1] 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


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[2], 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[3] 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[4], 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.


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 doesn’t bind to the receptors that underpin the cannabis high, and therefore produces no intoxicating effects.

Studies continue to explore the effects of CBD[5] on memory, learning, and cognitive impairment, while also probing the cannabinoid for any neuroprotective properties.

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.

External Resources:
  1. What's the Link Between Marijuana and Schizophrenia? - Leaf Science
  2. The Impact of Cannabis Use on Cognitive Functioning in Patients With Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis of Existing Findings and New Data in a First-Episode Sample - PubMed
  3. Cannabis, Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Unravelling a Complex Interaction - PubMed
  4. Matthew Hill | Hotchkiss Brain Institute | University of Calgary
  5. Cannabis-derived compound may help treat schizophrenia
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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