Skunk Works continued

Skunk Works


New Science Connects Marijuana Use and Schizophrenia (As If We Weren't Feeling Paranoid Enough Already...)


You may have found yourself wondering recently, as I have, whether the best way to ride out the rest of the Bush theocracy might be to stay baked on a semi-permanent basis. Well, friends, the news just got worse. Again.


Scientists at New Zealand's University of Otago have concluded that marijuana will only make you loonier. More specifically, marijuana smokers are almost twice as likely to suffer schizophrenia and psychosis. Published in the journal Addiction, the study followed 1,055 youth at the ages of 18, 21, and 25 who were born in the city of Christchurch. 


The paper itself delves into matters like "negative binomial model[s]" and "useful alternative[s] to Poisson regression"--the kind of statistical analysis that's going to make a lot more sense to the layman after a little, um, firsthand clinical psychopharmacology, if you catch my drift. 


But the conclusions speak for themselves:


First, there was clear evidence to suggest that increasing use of cannabis was associated with statistically significant increases in the risks of psychotic symptoms. Secondly, increasing psychotic symptoms were not positively associated with increased rates of cannabis use and indeed the fitted autoregressive model suggested that the association between psychosis and cannabis use may be negative, so that increasing psychotic symptoms were associated with a decline in the use of cannabis.


Another way to put that second point is that there's no evidence that schizophrenics, or people prone to the disease, tend to "self-medicate" through marijuana usage. The teen chronic case may have reason to feel especially paranoid: Early and frequent drug use both correlated more strongly with incidence of mental illness.


NORML, naturally, has spoken up for the stoner in this important scientific debate (as they did several years ago). But the notion that dope has negligible health effects is becoming the kind of lonely position best suited to a dark room and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery. Here's another antipodean scientist, Dr. Andrew Campbell, expounding on the connection between sess and psychosis, in a lucid Q&A. (Lest you think that Campbell is just fearmongering, he also advances the odd-to-American-ears theory that the effects of amphetamines on young minds are less consequential.)


We've known for a while now that God was speaking directly to Bush's America. Now it seems that the most heavily Green states may start hearing voices of their own.

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