Psychotic disorders linked to marijuana

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story misrepresented the findings of the American Psychological Association's study. The APA does not recognize links between frequent adolescent marijuana use and the development of psychotic disorders. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.


After controversy sparked by The American Psychological Association's 2015 study reported links between frequent adolescent marijuana use and the development of psychotic disorders, the association was led to reanalyze their data and clarify their findings.

“The study that they had done, producing the kind of controversy it did among experts, made it considerably suspect in the beginning,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League.

Although according to the data male adolescents using marijuana were at higher risk for developing psychotic disorders compared to non-users, the APA concluded that the findings were not statistically significant and thus proved no such connection between marijuana use and the possibility of future psychoses.

“Especially when you consider that there are already so many other studies that do point to a trigger relationship between pot use and psychosis," he said. 

Jere Royall, director of community impact and counsel for North Carolina Family Policy Council, said the group regularly depends on studies conducted by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Since these associations, and now the APA, have shown the potential for negative health effects associated with marijuana use, the council continues to oppose efforts for cannabis law reform. 

“There’s growing evidence that shows marijuana may be particularly harmful for young people, causing long-term or even permanent impairment in cognitive ability and intelligence when used regularly during adolescence," Royall said. 

Movements to legalize marijuana are concerning to Creech, particularly for their impacts on adolescents. 

“It is never to your advantage as a student to be recreationally using a mind-altering drug,” he said. “It can mean academic failure, or it could mean serious exacerbation of emotional issues in one’s life. It can even mean death.”

A great deal of available information about marijuana use is false and propagandized, according to Ignacio Almazan, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws of North Carolina. Though the organization advocates for responsible use of marijuana, it does not support adolescent access to the drug. 

Almazan said the state should offer unbiased information about benefits and risks associated with marijuana consumption. And valuing transparency, the organization will distribute any valid information about effects of the drug. 

“We will provide the information that’s given, and let people make the decision for themselves," he said. 

Other considerations like effects of marijuana on cognitive functions and changes in brain structure must be further investigated, the APA findings read. 

“The health outcomes associated with marijuana use are just one piece of the legalization puzzle,” the report said. 

state@dailytarheel.com 

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