Marijuana and Mental Health: The Miseducation Of Reefer Madness

As anyone taking a modicum of notice will know, the UK currently finds itself in the grip of mental health crisis. The current situation sees around 6000 people per year commit suicide, of which almost 75% are men, with those under the age of 45 being the greatest affected (The Independent 2016).

According to statistics, every two weeks, one of those numbers is a veteran. Although that figure is contested by veterans families who claim it to be far higher. (The Mirror 2016). This has led to a 668% increase in benefit sanctions for those suffering from mental health conditions; (Jon Stone, The Independent 2015).

On the 21st of September it was revealed by the Public Accounts Committee that the Government will struggle to properly improve mental health services with the NHS budget at current levels and an additional £1 billion for mental health services will be required over the next five years, but this money is not ring-fenced (Jon Stone, The independent 2016). Yet the following day, thanks to Labour MP Luciana Berger submitting FOI requests for the actual figures, it turns out that mental health funding is being cut (Jason Beattie, The Mirror 2016).

“Tobacco on the other hand, a known psychotic that 75% of people in the UK use in their joints, has now been identified as a causal link to schizophrenia..”

Meanwhile, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health has stated that the legalisation of medical cannabis significantly reduces suicide rates, especially among young adults. As the study states; “The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events” (Anthony Martinelli, The Joint Blog 2016) (American Public Health Association 2014). This study is backed up by a previous one done by European Neuropsychopharmacology of the Netherlands who concluded that;

“…our study shows that THC administration induced a network-wide shift from a bias for negative emotional content towards a bias for positive emotional content. This was accompanied by a reduced ability to recognize stimuli with a negative emotional content. These findings add to existing evidence that implicates the endocannabinoid system in modulation of emotional reactions and support a previously suggested role for the endocannabinoid system in abnormal emotional processing associated with various psychiatric disorders” (European Neuropsychopharmacology 2013).

“…As veterans continue to search for something better (to treat PTSD), many of them are beginning to turn to medical marijuana (MMJ). This natural plant offers them just as much relief as the many pills they’ve been taking — without the debilitating side effects.”

GW Pharmaceuticals of Kent has been on this bandwagon for a while now, developing high CBD strains to treat psychosis that they say is “potentially much more valuable than the THC crop” (Tom Ireland, The Guardian 2014).

So what of the scare stories we see in the news all of the time about ‘skunk psychosis’?

This one really needs to be laid to rest at last! Cannabis does NOT cause schizophrenia. This was confirmed in a study by Keele university that states the data is “not consistent with the hypothesis that increasing cannabis use in earlier decades is associated with increasing schizophrenia or psychoses from the mid-1990s onwards.” (UKCIA News Blog 2009)
Tobacco, on the other hand, a known psychotic that 75% of people in the UK use in their joints, has now been identified as a causal link to schizophrenia. (Reuters 2015) (UKCIA)

Misdirection and misinformation as always when it comes to cannabis.

The benefits of using cannabis as a tool for mental health also comes with quite a saving. At present, we currently spend £5.5mn per week on antidepressants that are distributed from our GP’s. A staggering £268 billion per year. (Katie Gibbons, The Times 2016)
Drugs that in a recent study by the Nordic Cochrane Centre and analysed by University College London (UCL) who endorsed the findings in an editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) say an analysis of 70 trials of the most common antidepressants – involving more than 18,000 people – found they doubled the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour. (Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph, 2016)

Professor Peng Xie, a member of the team from Chongqing Medical University in China, who has recently conducted in to antidepressant use has concluded that ” The balance of risks and benefits of antidepressants for the treatment of major depression does not seem to offer a clear advantage in children and teenagers….”

The FDA warned in 2004 that the use of antidepressants in young people up to the age of 24 was raising concerns about suicide risk. Yet despite that, antidepressant use soared in both the US and the UK. (The Guardian 2016)

16 to 24 is service age, whereas in the UK we currently house 3,000 to 14,000 veterans per year suffering from mental health issues in prisons, several cannabis businesses have come together to make sure all veterans get the meds they need, for free. (Ross Lydall, Evening Standard 2016)
(Bret Constantin, Cannabis Life Network 2016)

They’re not just being given their meds though, they’re also being employed by the industry.
(Sam Laird, Mashable) (Julie Turkewitz, New York Times 2016)

SAS veteran Paul Boucher highlighted this two years ago when he smuggled cannabis from Spain for his old colleagues suffering conditions such as PTSD because “the Government failed to care for them”. When the men of the SAS speak up, people should listen. (The Telegraph 2014)
If all of this isn’t enough to convince you, then consider this. The mechanics of schizophrenia show that this condition occurs because of a loss of neurons in the hippocampus. So how does a substance that sparks neurogenesis (the process of creating brain cells) in the hippocampus lead to schizophrenia?

Here’s some peer reviewed studies on both subjects.

Schizophrenia Loss of Neurons in the Hippocampus

Cannabis Hippocampal Neurogenesis

There’s also US patent number US 6630507 B1 with regards to the use of cannabinoids as a neuroprotectant:

I find it bizarre that we currently have zero issues with all kinds of toxic drugs coming from our GP’s, yet when it comes to cannabis, most people seem to be content with accepting the misinformation of reefer madness.

Cannabis can and should be a tool that our overstretched and underfunded NHS should be relying on heavily, with yet another health crisis brought about by Tory economic illiteracy (or just down right theft depending your perspectives) With gardens in every hospital, instead of busting growers, we can put them to work turning their criminal records into CV’s. (Teesside Cannabis Club 2016)

With a home growing model for those that know the strains that work for them, each and every one of us who suffer from mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, etc, we can all be doing our bit in taking personal responsible for our use and removing a massive financial burden from the NHS so that funds can be put into parts that need it, such as nurses.

Austerity is a lie. The war on drugs is a lie. We can and have to do better than this.

References and further Reading

Independent 2016:

The Mirror 2016:

Jon Stone, The Independent 2016:

Jon Stone, The independent 2016:

Jason Beattie, The Mirror 2016:

Anthony Martinelli, The Joint Blog 2106:

American Public Health Association 2014:

European Neuropsychopharmacology 2013:

Tom Ireland, The Guardian  2014:

UKCIA News Blog 20019:

Reuters 2015:


Katie Gibbons, The Times 2016:

Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph, 2016:

The Guardian 2016:

Ross Lydall, Evening Standard 2016:

Bret Constantin, Cannabis Life Network 2016:

Sam Laird, Mashable:

Julie Turkewitz, New York Times 2016:

The Telegraph 2014:

Teesside Cannabis Club 2016: