Current Psychiatry Reports

, 18:12 | Cite as

Cannabis and Psychosis: a Critical Overview of the Relationship

  • Charles Ksir
  • Carl L. HartEmail author
Substance Use and Related Disorders (F Levin and E Dakwar, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Substance Use and Related Disorders


Interest in the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis has increased dramatically in recent years, in part because of concerns related to the growing availability of cannabis and potential risks to health and human functioning. There now exists a plethora of scientific articles addressing this issue, but few provide a clear verdict about the causal nature of the cannabis-psychosis association. Here, we review recent research reports on cannabis and psychosis, giving particular attention to how each report provides evidence relating to two hypotheses: (1) cannabis as a contributing cause and (2) shared vulnerability. Two primary kinds of data are brought to bear on this issue: studies done with schizophrenic patients and studies of first-episode psychosis. Evidence reviewed here suggests that cannabis does not in itself cause a psychosis disorder. Rather, the evidence leads us to conclude that both early use and heavy use of cannabis are more likely in individuals with a vulnerability to psychosis. The role of early and heavy cannabis use as a prodromal sign merits further examination, along with a variety of other problem behaviors (e.g., early or heavy use of cigarettes or alcohol and poor school performance). Future research studies that focus exclusively on the cannabis-psychosis association will therefore be of little value in our quest to better understand psychosis and how and why it occurs.


Marijuana Schizophrenia Mental illness Cognition THC Psychotic disorder 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of impotance, •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience ProgramUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyColumbia CollegeNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Brocher FoundationGenevaSwitzerland

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