A new book has raised fears about mental illness, marijuana, and violence. The book claims the drug may induce psychosis and schizophrenia in some users, in particular, young men in their 20s.
However, the book by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has also provoked a backlash.
Berenson’s book, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence draws on a body of research that links the use of the drug to mental disorders and violence.
A report in The Guardian referred to a statement from the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 that points out evidence points to a “strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders.”
Adolescents were identified as being particularly vulnerable to harm because of the effects of cannabis on their neurological development.
A report on NBC stated scientists have found a link between cannabis use and severe mental illness over two decades. Even in controlled laboratory settings, some people who were given THC, a psychoactive chemical in marijuana, experience hallucinations.
The research suggested cannabis changes structures in the brain, contributing to mental illnesses. One study of more than 50,000 people indicated those who used cannabis during the teen years face a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
Berensen’s theory is that marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence. The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence.
A report in Medical News Today suggested people who are prone to schizophrenia are more likely to take marijuana which, in turn, may increase the prospects of developing symptoms.
Research shows cannabis use is more common among people with psychosis than among the general population. However, rather than alleviating symptoms it may increase the risk of psychosis.
The study found cannabis can lower levels of the brain chemical dopamine. A reduction in dopamine is associated with fatigue, mood changes, depression, and lack of motivation. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder entail low levels of dopamine.
The book was published at a time when Canada has legalized recreational cannabis use along with western U.S. states including Colorado, California, Washington, and Nevada.
An article in Vox questioned Berenson’s reasoning. It said the author overstated the link between marijuana and psychosis.
Some articles have pointed to a link between mental illness and violence. Others found little link. However, studies are far from conclusive. An article published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica by a group of academics in Australia and the Institute of Psychiatry in London highlighted a correlation between untreated schizophrenia and higher levels of homicides.
Other studies suggest people with untreated mental conditions are more likely to abuse drugs.
If a family member with a mental disorder has been arrested in Arizona, it’s important to hire an attorney who is familiar with these cases. Call our Phoenix attorney today at (602) 340-1999.