While there is little doubt that it's dangerous to use cannabis and then drive a car or go to work, the debate has raged for years over the health impact of cannabis, particularly mental health. So what does the science say?
Before we get into what the science and research says, it's important to realize that cannabis is a widely used drug. In many countries, it's the most widely used illicit drug and this is the case in many parts of the world. In some areas, its cultivation is allowed and it's part of our culture. It seems to have become commonplace for politicians to admit to trying it at least once, to show that they're more human!
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But trying it and using it regularly are two different things, and it's more frequent users who are putting themselves most at risk. Because there's little doubt that the use of cannabis can be bad for mental health and can cause a wide range of issues.
Credible research has found cannabis use associated with issues such as:
- Psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions. Add confused thinking, disturbances in emotions and behavior, and muffled speech to this list.
- Schizophrenia, which is a specific psychotic illness that we've all heard about. There is evidence that cannabis can cause schizophrenia in people who are already at risk of the illness. Most people who are at risk of schizophrenia aren't aware they are, making a simple cannabis joint every now and then more of a risk than you might think.
- It's also commonly thought that cannabis use can cause depression, although there is no clear evidence of this. What the evidence does say is that people who use cannabis are more likely to be depressed than those who don't, but the exact link is not known. It could simply be because of a common myth that cannabis helps make people happier, but the reverse can actually be true.
- Cannabis users can also experience issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, lack of motivation, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating.
- Cannabis use is also one factor in suicides in young people.