Probably the best medical study ever to be a part of. Researchers out of Oxford investigated whether smoking marijuana (cannabis) led to increased risks of paranoia. The team found that smoking cannabis led to more incidents of paranoia than with people that didn’t smoke.

Using a participant pool of 121 people between the ages of 21 and 50, researchers injected THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Injections were used over smoking a joint to be as accurate as possible. The levels of THC injected were equivalent of a strong joint. The effect on the patient lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Two-thirds of the participants were given THC, while the other third were given a placebo. All those involved in the study were screened for mental illness and relevant health condition. They all did self-report feeling paranoid at least once in the previous month.

Once the participants were injected, they went to the hospital cafeteria to stock up. Actually, it was to buy one item and return to a lab to don a virtual reality headset. That’s one way to use Oculus. Each participant was shown a neutral social situation with no hostile parameters.

Interviews and questionnaires immediately followed the test. Half of those injected with THC had thoughts of paranoia. Still, around 30 percent of those on the placebo had the same thoughts of paranoia. Evidently, the study got a batch of edgy participants.

The paranoia eventually subsided as the drug left the bloodstream. Other symptoms from the experiment included negative thoughts about oneself, anxiety, changes in perception, poor short-term memory and altered perception of time.

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Whether or not the study’s authors want it, this is going to be used as a way of policing the drug. The authors of the study do not think it can be used as such, but politics is politics.

“I think what it highlights is that if you have greater confidence in yourself, you improve your self-esteem, and if you try not to worry or ruminate about potential threats in the world… then the effects of the THC should hopefully be less capable of inducing paranoia.”

With marijuana becoming increasingly legal or decriminalized, hopefully the range of studies will increase in the United States. If they can find health benefits from certain compounds, then that needs to be found and offered to society at large.

Washington and Colorado will be the test cases for whether marijuana can be legalized for recreational use in a safe manner.

The paranoia study is published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

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