Harm Reduction Journal

, 9:15

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Correlates to the variable effects of cannabis in young adults: a preliminary study

  • Ariella A CameraAffiliated withVA Boston Healthcare System Email author  
  • , Veronica TomaselliAffiliated withSt. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital CenterLangone School of Medicine, New York University Email author  
  • , Jerry FlemingAffiliated withVA Boston Healthcare SystemHarvard Medical School Email author  
  • , Gul A JabbarAffiliated withHarvard Medical School
  • , Melissa TrachtenbergAffiliated withLangone School of Medicine, New York University Email author 
  • , Juan A Galvez-BuccolliniAffiliated withVA Boston Healthcare SystemHarvard Medical School
  • , Ashley C ProalAffiliated withHarvard Medical School
  • , Richard N RosenthalAffiliated withSt. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center
  • , Lynn E DeLisiAffiliated withVA Boston Healthcare SystemHarvard Medical School Email author 



Cannabis use can frequently have adverse affects in those that use it and these can be amplified by various characteristics of an individual, from demographic and environmental variations to familial predisposition for mental illnesses.


The current study of 100 individuals, who were cannabis users during their adolescence and may still be users, was a survey of the self perceived effects of cannabis and their correlates. A reliable family member was also interviewed for determination of family history of various major mental illnesses and substance use.


As many as 40% of cannabis users had paranoid feelings (suspiciousness) when using cannabis, although the most frequent effect was feeling relaxed (46%). Having a familial background for mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia did not determine the effects of cannabis nor its pattern of use, although the number of subjects with such a history was small. An age at which an individual began using cannabis did have an effect on how heavily it was used and the heavier the cannabis use, the more likely the individual was also to have had psychotic symptoms after use. There were no sex differences in effects of cannabis. These results are tempered by the reliance on self-report for many of the variables ascertained.


Cannabis can frequently have negative effects in its users, which can be amplified by certain demographic and/or psychosocial factors. Thus, users with a specific profile may be at a higher risk of unpleasant effects from cannabis use and caution should be noted when cannabis is administered to young people for medicinal purposes.