Therapists Don’t Know About Cannabis Psychosis, The New Epidemic

Posted on June 13, 2024 View all news

I have studied and worked in Psychology for almost 50 years. I have been a licensed MFT, Marriage Family Therapist, since 1986 and have continuously practiced in California. 

I thought I knew the diagnosis pretty well until I learned about a new epidemic: “Cannabis-Induced Psychosis.”

It happens when people consume cannabis with increasingly high doses of THC and develop psychotic symptoms. This appears to be particularly dangerous to people under 25 whose brains are still developing. These new high levels of THC are creating damage in the developing brain, affecting neurotransmitters throughout the cannabinoid receptors. Some studies suggest it may be permanent.

According to some new global research, Cannabis-Induced Psychosis (CIP) is creating “Paranoid Schizophrenic-like“ symptoms in people that had no prior history. Young people are becoming increasingly suicidal and homicidal at rates that indicate we have been missing something.

Symptoms of CIP can be mild or severe and occur for a few minutes or years:

  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Grandiosity
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Depersonalization (detachment from self or a sense of things not being real)
  • Disorganized thinking, speech behavior
  • Racing thoughts
  • Obsessive ideation

No one I knew from my generation had heard of CIP, Cannaibis-Induced Psychosis, including my therapist friends. I even called the CAMFT lawyer to see if there was anything in the archives. He had never heard of it either. However, every Gen Z I talked to had heard of it, and many have tried the high-THC cannabis “dabs” or “vapes.”

I only learned about this epidemic recently. Since then, I have read every article and watched every video available. I wrote this article to educate my fellow therapists because the problem is becoming a crisis.

Since Cannabis became legal, the cannabis industry has genetically engineered strains with progressively higher levels of THC. The dispensaries sell products called “DABS” with 95-99% THC. It is inhaled through vapor, not smoke, and goes directly into the brain. It is also odorless, making it difficult for parents, teachers, and therapists to detect.

There is also the same issue with high THC in vape pens. Strains like “Delta-11-THC” can get as high as 80% THC. The vape smell can be masked with blueberry, etc. The Gen Zs tell their parents they are vaping tobacco.

I first learned about it when I read that CIP was used as a defense in a murder case here in California. I thought it must be an anomaly. I have since learned that the legal system considers this to be a viable defense.

From the video testimonials I have seen on the internet, these young people eventually end up in psychiatric units. They are put on anti-psychotics, which treat the hallucinations but don’t cure them.

I wanted to share a website, Every Brain Matters, that I have found incredibly helpful. It’s a good reference that is doing incredible work.

I hope this article helps get the word out to save our young people.

Kymberlee Ruff

Marriage & Family Therapist, MS, MFT

2 thoughts on "Therapists Don’t Know About Cannabis Psychosis, The New Epidemic"

  1. My son suffered CIP in 1986 even before it was called that. He killed my wife and a neighbor lady and attacked three others. He was fortunately found innocent by reason of insanity. They called it a temporary form of Szhizophrenia and spent almost ten years in a mental hospital. He has turned his life around and leads a successful life but filled with the regret of what he did at age 19.

  2. Hello Paul, My son is experiencing CIP right now but we are being told he has schizophrenia. My question to you is what meds was your son in and what helped your son to turn his life around? Any good news would be encouraging for us to deal with this long standing illness. Sincerely Jill

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