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April 30, 2007

The Science Is Settled: Pot Increases Schizophrenia, Psychosis Risks

Consensus! Sweet, sweet consensus.

Uncle Jefe wants to know if this contributes to the widespread delusional paranoia on the Truther left. So do I.

Brain scans showing how cannabis affects brain function may help explain why heavy consumption of the drug triggers psychosis and schizophrenia in a small number of people, scientists said on Monday.

Psychiatrists are increasingly concerned about the mental health impact of smoking large amounts of modern super-strength marijuana, or skunk, particularly among young people.

Until now, the mechanism by which cannabis works on the brain has been a mystery but modern scanning techniques mean experts can now detect its impact on brain activity.

...

Professor Philip McGuire and Zerrin Atakan of London's Institute of Psychiatry said their work using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, showed patients given the active cannabis compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) had reduced function in the inferior frontal cortex brain region.

This area is associated with controlling inappropriate emotional and behavioral responses to situations.

"What THC seems to be doing is switching off that part of the brain, and that was associated with how paranoid people became," McGuire told reporters.

Now, one may object that schizophrenia and psychosis only strikes a "small number" of "heavy marijuana users." However, it's rather difficult to believe that much greater numbers of people are affected with low-grade not-quite-clinically-diagnosable versions of schizophrenia. Such as acute lunatic paranoias about the physical impossibility of "fire melting steel."

But don't take my word for it.

Similar findings from other teams also highlight the link between THC dose and the risk of schizophrenia-like symptoms, conference organizer Professor Robin Murray said.

Now here's that sweet consenus I told you about:

"It's no longer a contentious issue. The expert community, by and large, accepts that cannabis contributes to the onset of psychotic symptoms in general and the severe form of psychosis, schizophrenia," he said.

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posted by Ace at 05:13 PM

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