The onset of psychotic diseases like schizophrenia is hastened
in cannabis users, says a study done at University of New South Wales. Cannabis
is most widely used in Australia with more than 30% people having used it at
some point or the other.
About 20,000 patients with psychotic illness were studied and it
was found that users of cannabis experienced psychosis 2.5 years earlier than
non-cannabis users. The study also claimed that reduction or stopping the use
of cannabis could delay the onset or prevent cases of psychosis. This risk is
particularly higher among young people whose brains are still developing. The frequency
of smoking also increases the risk.
Chief investigator of the study Dr. Matthew Large, said, "What our
research has found is that in addition to early cannabis smoking bringing on
schizophrenia, it brings schizophrenia on [earlier] by an average of 2.7 years."
However scientists have not been able to explain the relationship between cannabis
usage and mental illness. Whether cannabis causes schizophrenia or just brings
it out among vulnerable people is still unclear. However the study shows
clearly that cannabis plays a significant role in psychosis.