1. Cannabis use is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with psychotic disorders
In the years immediately prior to the passage of the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, exploitation journalists routinely, yet baselessly, claimed that cannabis use triggered psychotic and violent behavior. For example, a news story from the July 6, 1927 edition of the New York Times pronounced, “A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life.” While virtually every American readily dismisses such absurd claims today, nonetheless, decades later many of these same sensationalistic contentions continue to make their way into the mainstream press. A case in point: within hours after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, ABC News Philadelphia reported that shooter James Holmes’ rampage was likely brought on by smoking marijuana. Similarly, weeks earlier, various media outlets speculated that cannabis may have motivated the unfathomable actions of Rudy Eugene, the so-called “Miami Cannibal,” after toxicology reports found trace levels of marijuana byproducts in his system.
Conversely, mainstream media outlets often turn a blind eye to scientific studies refuting the notion that pot causes psychosis or in any way exacerbates mental illness, such as a 2009 Keele University Medical School study which found that increased levels of cannabis use by the general public is not associated with proportionally rising incidences of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. This was the case, again, in May when an international team of investigators from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Inje University in South Korea determined that the use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.
Writing in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, investigators assessed the impact of a lifetime history of substance use on mortality in 762 subjects with schizophrenia or related disorders. Researchers “observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis-users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and antipsychotic treatments.” They speculated that this association between marijuana use and decreased mortality risk may be because “cannabis users may (be) higher functioning” and because “cannabis itself may have some health benefits.”
“To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychotic disorders),” the study’s authors concluded. “This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk … in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies.”
July 27, 2012, AlterNet