TUCSON — Weed use is taking off as more states move to legalize it. Despite the buzz over marijuana, there are some health risks linked with frequent use.
One of the more troubling health effects of consuming marijuana is the risk of having a psychotic episode. A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows that consuming weed on a daily basis and using high-potency cannabis is associated with a higher risk of psychosis.
"During an episode of psychosis, an individual might have altered perceptions. Their thought processes might be different and they might lose contact with reality completely. For example, they might have hallucinations where they're seeing a thing or hearing voices or they might have false belief systems," said Dr. Jennifer Treusch.
The study found those who used weed daily were three times more likely to have a psychotic episode, compared with someone who never used the drug. Use of high-potency weed every day almost doubled those odds.
"And it gets even worse for people who use high-potency marijuana. They have a five-times greater odd of having a psychotic episode," Treusch said.
The study defines high-potency cannabis as having more than 10 percent THC.
Treusch says one theory that connects weed and psychotic episodes is that marijuana influences dopamine in the brain — a chemical that can affect hallucinations. But she, and the study, stress that there really is no conclusive link of marijuana directly causing psychosis.
"Unfortunately, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the FDA, and thus hasn't been studied completely. We would greatly benefit from having studies done so that we could completely understand what marijuana is doing to the body and mind," she said.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , as many as three in 100 people will have a psychotic episode at some point in their lives.