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Pot and Schizophrenia

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(July 22, 2013) Marijuana “may push everyone a few feet closer” to the “cliff of sanity,” a resident physician from Yale University writes in a soul-searching essay for the Wall Street Journal.

pot_schizophrenia“As research accumulates, the emerging picture is that marijuana precipitates schizophrenia or related psychotic disorders in people whose brains are inherently vulnerable to psychosis,” according to Dr. Samuel T. Wilkinson (whose opinions “do not necessarily reflect those of The Yale School of Medicine or its Department of Psychiatry,” a disclaimer with the essay says).

“All of us who do not regularly experience hallucinations or delusions reside on what may be called a ‘cliff of sanity.’ Some of us, for reasons still unclear (thought possibly to be genetic), are closer to the edge of the cliff than others.”

Wilkinson notes that schizophrenia affects more than six times the number of people with multiple sclerosis, 2.5 times the number with Parkinson’s disease and more than twice as many people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Because of what he calls a “significant and consistent relationship between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia and related disorders,” the role of marijuana in precipitating schizophrenia needs to be considered in the debate about legalizing marijuana use.

“This association between marijuana and serious and devastating psychotic disorders has been absent or under-recognized in the public debate,” he said. “Despite (or perhaps because of) the unwarranted stigma that surrounds their illness, individuals with schizophrenia are vulnerable and in need of advocacy. We owe it to them, and to society in general, to consider all the facts, risks and potential benefits before we embark on this drastic social experiment.”

To read the entire essay, click here or Google “Pot-Smoking And the Schizophrenia Connection.”   

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