Mental Health Awareness: Focusing on Marijuana

Posted on June 5, 2024 View all news

The higher the use, the greater the risk. In other words, marijuana in the United States has become increasingly dangerous to mental health in the last fifteen years, as millions more people consume higher-potency cannabis more frequently.”

~ Alex Berenson, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

Every year, nearly 60 million people struggle with mental illness. We must erase the stigma and stereotypes, encourage treatment and recovery, and find real solutions.

With the possible rescheduling of cannabis in the news and with the push to normalize drug use, we believe it is important to talk about the role that substance abuse plays in the development and worsening of many different emotional disorders. Specifically, we will focus on what science tells us about the connection between marijuana and some of the most common mental illnesses.

Marijuana and Anxiety

According to a large comprehensive study that analyzed the health data of over 12 million patients, researchers found that people who needed emergency care for marijuana-related issues were nearly four times as likely to either develop a new anxiety disorder or struggle with worsened symptoms of their existing anxiety disorder.

The study, originally published in the February 2024 edition of The Lancet’s eClinical Medicine, is the largest study to date that specifically looked at the relationship between cannabis use and anxiety.”

Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder

A 2019 study made several concerning findings about marijuana use and bipolar disorder. People with BPD who also use cannabis have:

  • An earlier onset of mental illness.
  • More severe symptoms.
  • More suicide attempts.
  • A greater likelihood of developing Cannabis Use Disorder (marijuana addiction).

The study, which was published in the June 2019 issue of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, concluded that “1 in 4 people with BPD use marijuana at the risk…” of their mental health…and even their lives.

Marijuana and Depression

After analyzing 11 international studies, researchers at the University of Oxford found that teenagers who use cannabis are at significantly elevated risk of depression and suicidality in adulthood.

Extrapolating the numbers, that means about half a million cases of clinical depression linked to underage marijuana use.

Marijuana and Schizophrenia

…where problematic use of cannabis has increased, or where the potency of cannabis has increased…many studies suggest that high-potency cannabis is the driver of the association with schizophrenia.”

~ Carsten Hjorthøj, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health

A 2021 study from Denmark found that schizophrenia associated with problematic marijuana use has increased over the last 25 years. Importantly, the degree of risk was determined to be dose-dependent, meaning the heavier the use and the stronger the THC content, the more likely users were to develop the condition.

The study was published in the July 2021 edition of JAMA Psychiatry.

On a related note, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that up to 50% of adult users experience at least “transitory psychotic symptoms” while high on weed.

Marijuana and PTSD

A 2015 observational study found that among patients in treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, marijuana use was “significantly associated” with worsened:

  • PTSD symptoms
  • Violent behavior
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

The researchers also concluded that using marijuana could also “nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment.”

The study involved nearly 2,300 veterans with PTSD and was published in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The Bottom Line About Marijuana and Mental Health Month

Cannabis Use Disorder is not responsible for most (mental illness) cases, but it is responsible for a nonnegligible and increasing proportion. This should be considered in discussions regarding legalization and regulation of cannabis.”

~ Tyler J. VanderWeele, Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

Besides the negative effect marijuana use has on the development or progression of other conditions, the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) also lists 7 different cannabis-related disorders:

  • Cannabis Intoxication
  • Cannabis-Induced Anxiety Disorder
  • Cannabis-Induced Psychotic Disorder
  • Cannabis-Induced Sleep Disorder
  • Cannabis-Induced Delirium
  • Cannabis Withdrawal
  • Cannabis Use Disorder

Decades of research clearly tell us that cannabis isn’t safe, that it’s not a medicine, and that it can demand a devastating toll on the physical and mental health of anyone who uses it.


Every Brain Matters is a trusted educational resource for individuals and families wanting to stay safe from the harms associated with marijuana and the drug culture. 

We reject the false narrative that marijuana is a harmless expression of personal freedom. Based on scientific evidence and personal stories, our position is that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug, and like all drugs of abuse, it can and is destroying lives.  

Spread awareness by sharing this article everywhere, with everyone you know. To stay informed and up-to-date, join our national movement and subscribe to our channel.

If you found this information valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Every Brain Matters, a registered nonprofit organization devoted to telling the truth about the mental, physical, and societal dangers of marijuana.

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