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More Evidence Accumulates on Marijuana and Mental Illness

Megan Brooks at Medscape (free registration) has the details:

Early adolescent cannabis use may contribute to the development of symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) in adulthood, according to new data from a longitudinal cohort study.

"The uniqueness of this study lies in the demonstration of an association between early cannabis use and subsequent schizophrenia-like symptoms that persisted into adulthood and that was not explained by early anxiety or depressive disorders, or exposure to other drug and cigarette use," study author Deidre M. Anglin, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology, City College and Graduate Center, City University of New York, told Medscape Medical News.

"In addition, this study adds to the literature by demonstrating that this association...was not only limited to those already exhibiting higher levels of these symptoms during childhood and adolescence," she added.

There is now a respectable amount of research demonstrating a link between marijuana use and severe mental illness, particularly psychosis.  In many ways this is unsurprising: we've long known that marijuana use is associated with perceptual and cognitive anomalies during use and persisting for some time after cessation of use.  Psychotic disorders are defined by disturbances in perception and cognition. 

To be sure, the research literature has a long way to go in quantifying and understanding the overall risk. Lots of people use marijuana and don't develop mental illness.  But it's worth keeping in mind that no drug is harmless and there is likely some risk involved in marijuana use.

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