Do high THC levels cause psychosis? That’s been the mantra of the modern cannabis temperament movement. Since cannabis can’t cause a fatal overdose and appears relatively benign (compared to most pharmaceutical drugs), public health busybodies had to find a new angle.
Ergo, high THC levels cause psychosis.
This isn’t your grandparent’s cannabis, they tell us. Potent cannabis can disconnect you from reality. You could hallucinate and create delusions about friends and family that compel you to hurt them.
Drug-induced psychosis is not a new phenomenon, nor is cannabis the only culprit. What’s going on here is more nuanced. But you won’t get that viewpoint from the “High THC causes psychosis” crowd.
This is a topic we’ve covered before. But what we haven’t discussed is the history of cannabis and psychosis.
If high THC levels cause psychosis in otherwise healthy adults, how do you account for the early 20th century?
Cannabis-induced Psychosis in History
In the late 19th and early 20th century, while patients used cannabis oil for medicine, the masses rarely smoked it the way we partake today.
Cannabis use was rare and far less potent. But during this time, admissions to psychiatric hospitals for cannabis-induced psychosis were at their highest levels.
Suppose high THC causes psychosis because the effects are too powerful for the individual user. Then how does the cannabis temperance movement account for low-THC psychosis in the early 20th century?
In the 1960s, one researcher started investigating this history of cannabis-induced psychosis. He showed that adverse reactions to cannabis steadily declined over the decades into the 1940s.
What happened? Cannabis came into broader use. A subculture was springing up. Thanks to the early Beatniks and hippies, people became educated about THC. They knew what to expect.
Therefore, their reactions to phytocannabinoids weren’t one of fear or anxiety but pleasure and relaxation. Because of their expectations (set and setting), consumers didn’t experience terror or psychosis.
As we’ve discussed before, when it comes to cannabis’ effect on the mind, we’re looking at cultural beliefs, learned connections, and situational factors.
The physical effects of high-THC cannabis cannot “cause” psychosis.
Could High THC Levels Cause Psychosis? A Personal Story
Perhaps you disagree. Of course, high THC levels cause psychosis. Maybe you’ve experienced a full-on or borderline psychotic episode before.
I know I have.
Once, about ten years ago, I hit a big dab. Far too large for my tolerance level. I thought it’d be fun.
During the peak of the high, it felt like someone or something was broadcasting the voice in my head. Pretty scary, huh? It certainly scared me off doing big-ass dabs.
What was really going on here? I wasn’t entirely out of it – I knew these schizophrenia-like “symptoms” were merely the effects of potent THC and that they would subside as I came down.
Now I understand it wasn’t even the effects of THC. It was my interpretation of what happens every day in the brain.
But drug-induced psychoses are “the anxiety reaction of a naive user occasioned by his fear that the temporary symptoms of drug use represent a permanent derangement of his mind.”
Now, where would people get this idea? Could it be from the same public health busybodies that claim to be helping?
The “brain disease” model of drug addiction is bunk, yet they promote it as if the theory were unquestionable science. But who does this serve?
High THC levels in cannabis are new to Western society. After years of prohibition, farmers are now free to test out different genetics. Consumers, as well, are given choices between high and low THC, as well as other cannabinoids they may wish to consume.
By promoting the myth that high THC levels cause psychosis, public health is engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead of educating cannabis consumers about the effects of high-THC cannabis, they are gaslighting them.
Do High THC Levels Cause Psychosis?
Do High THC levels cause psychosis? No. Drug-induced psychosis stems from ignorance. You wouldn’t take LSD without ensuring your emotional stability and the safety of your surroundings.
Likewise, if you’re new to cannabis, proceed with caution when it comes to high THC.
But don’t buy into the BS that it’s going to wreck your brain permanently. It won’t. But combine cannabis ignorance with misinformation from public health, and you’ve got a perfect storm.
Do high THC levels cause psychosis? No, drug war propaganda does. The purveyors of this nonsense have always interpreted cannabis’ effects as “madness” or “insanity.”