Men are More Susceptible to ‘Cannabis Psychosis’ Than Women
Recent studies are showing a gender difference.
Published on October 24, 2015

Though many positive and medically beneficial discoveries about cannabis have been made and confirmed, the lasting effects of cannabis on the brain still remains a concern.

In the 1980s, scientists conducted an experiment that studied the cannabis use of approximately 45,000 men around the age of eighteen. The fifteen-year long study routinely checked the men’s marijuana intake, specifically taking note of smokers who tested positive for any type of psychiatric disorder.

The results were intriguing. Men who smoked marijuana were 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed as schizophrenic than those who didn’t. For men who smoked regularly, which was defined as more than 50 times in fifteen years, were 6 times more likely to be at risk for schizophrenia than the casual smoker.

This was the first revolutionary discovery that showed a link between mental illness and the consumption of cannabis.

Overall, there have been nine trials that have tested the theory that marijuana is related to psychosis. Now, thanks to a more recent Journal of Advances in Dual Diagnosis study done over the course of 11 years, researches believe that men are at a greater risk for cannabis psychosis than women. Dr. Paul Galdas and Dr. Holly Essex, the lead researchers in this study, said the ratio is 2:1 men to women, but is likely to increase to 4:1.

Ian Hamilton commented on the recent study saying, “The marked gender differences in rates of cannabis psychosis is puzzling. It is possible that mental health and specialist drug treatment services, which have a disproportionate number of men, are identifying and treating more males with combined mental health and cannabis problems.”

So what is cannabis psychosis?

Cannabis psychosis alters a person’s mental stability after using marijuana. Psychosis, by definition, means a serious mental illness that makes you believe things that are not true.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, cannabis psychosis after smoking marijuana can be experienced through several types of negative emotions such as anxiety, depression and other mental discrepancies.

So why is cannabis psychosis more likely to affect men than women?

Unfortunately, scientists are still unsure why men are more likely to be affected. The small volume of studies has determined that gender does matter, however, we are still in the process of understanding what about gender affects the results of cannabis psychosis.

Men, it seems, are more avid smokers than women. Some say that smoking marijuana has been and still is a social stigma for women, which has resulted in less female smokers. It is also thought that younger men are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior, including the desire to try illegal substances. Others speculate that men use marijuana as a coping method, while women tend to lean on social interactions to find the help they need. These assumptions may be helpful speculations as to why cannabis psychosis occurs more frequently in men solely based on the statistic that more men smoking marijuana than women.

Currently, there is still not enough evidence to determine why men are more susceptible to cannabis psychosis than women are, but it seems clear, according to Mr. Hamilton, that “gender does matter.”  

Audrey Livingston
A Texas native living in Boulder, Audrey Livingston enjoys writing about the essence of human nature, the developing medicinal cannabis industry and research-focused studies that,to anyone else, would seem extremely boring.
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