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Medical cannabis patients at ‘low risk’ of hospitalisation from mental disorders – study

Medical cannabis is not associated with an increased risk of psychiatric hospitalisations.



High-THC cannabis flower linked to improvements in quality of life
Researchers assessed cannabis-related hospitalisations among a cohort of over 23,000 patients in Canada.

Medical cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation with mental disorders, according to new findings. 

New data, published in the journal of Substance Use & Misuse, has concluded that medical cannabis patients are at low risk of psychiatric hospitalisations as a result of their consumption.

Researchers assessed cannabis-related hospitalisations among a cohort of over 23,000 authorised medical cannabis patients in Canada.

Canada has legalised the use of cannabis products for both medical purposes and for adult use.

Investigators tracked incidences of hospitalisations attributable to either “cannabis poisoning” or because of “mental or behavioural disorders due to the use of cannabis.” 

Patients in the study were tracked for a median of 240 days.

During the course of the trial, investigators reported that a total of 14 patients were hospitalised for issues related to cannabis toxicity and 26 were admitted for either mental or behavioural disorders. 

The findings push back against claims from some cannabis reform opponents that frequent cannabis exposure is a trigger for psychosis and other mental health disorders.

While some studies on illicit cannabis have linked use in adolescence to an increased risk of psychosis and schizophrenia in those thought to be predisposed to these conditions, there is as of yet little data on the risk of medicinal cannabis.

Self-administered, ‘recreational cannabis’ generally contains higher levels of THC and is consumed differently to how medical cannabis would normally be prescribed.

The authors of the study say they hope the findings will help “address concerns” around the use of medical cannabis. 

They stated: “The results suggest that the incidence of cannabis poisoning or cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders was low among patients who were authorised to use cannabis for medical care,” authors concluded. 

“Our observation of small rates of ED visits and hospitalisation for cannabis poisoning and CUDs [cannabis use disorders] among this large cohort of medical cannabis users helps address concerns regarding increasing use of medical cannabis.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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