We have to admit, we were incredibly surprised by the reactions to our recent article on marijuana and psychosis. Just days after publishing it, the piece became the most viewed blog in the history of our site. It also received a wide range of social media reactions, “going viral” enough to reach more than 10,000 people. And yes, there were all kinds of opinions to the research we provided. So much so, that we felt it was important to put out a follow up article that delves even deeper into the stats.

To start things off, we want clearly articulate that we are not “anti-marijuana.” Our previous piece was not intended to be a political statement or discount the medicinal effects that many users have found so helpful. We prefer that our readers draw their own conclusions, but still feel it’s important to provide scientific facts in the process. This time out, we’ve gathered even more data which seems to support the argument that those who have a history of mental illness (or are genetically predisposed) may be putting themselves at risk when they use cannabis.

Let’s start with data gathered from Stanford University. Now, we can all agree that this is a very reputable Ivy League school known for conducting groundbreaking (unbiased) studies. Their website recently published an interview with researcher Robert MacCoun, PhD, who had this to say about the topic…

There is growing evidence that heavy marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of psychosis. We don’t know if it is a true cause-and-effect relationship; let’s hope it is not. But I think the biggest health threat is dependence, which for marijuana is something like getting stuck in the La Brea tar pits — your world just gets smaller and smaller as you get more dysfunctional.

Over on the east coast, professors at Harvard University are echoing the same thing; putting a strong emphasis on the dangers young users may face. Contributor Ann McDonald wrote a lengthy piece on the Harvard Medical School site, sharing stats their researchers put together after monitoring 2,000 local teenagers. That data showed that young people who smoked marijuana at least five times were twice as likely to have developed a psychosis over the next 10 years than those who did not.

Other data points showed that the young smokers most at risk were the ones who have a parent or sibling suffering from a psychotic disorder. It also showed that “heavy teenage users” (smoking more than 50 times per week) were six times as likely to develop some type of mental illness.

The teenage brain is still a work in progress,” McDonald wrote. “Between the teen years and the mid-20s, areas of the brain responsible for judgment and problem solving are still making connections with the emotional centers of the brain. Smoking marijuana may derail this process and so increase a young person’s vulnerability to psychotic thinking.

Trust us when we say that the data goes much further than that. Interestingly enough, scientists from the around the world have also conducted thorough research on this topic and yielded very similar results. Sweden, for example, has published lengthy journals on the correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia, complete with bar graphs and scientific testimonials.

A bar graph of cannabis consumption among 18-year-olds.

Our final point is this. Don’t judge a blog by it’s headline. For all of the cannabis lovers out there, we advise you not be turned off if you see an article referencing dangerous side effects. It is always important to keep an open mind and understand the facts before embracing a substance you’re about to put into your body. And if you are a marijuana user and are noticing psychotic symptoms begin to emerge, we want you to understand that you are not alone and help is always available.