Lauren M. Dutra, William J. Parish, Camille K. Gourdet, Sarah A Wylie & Jenny L Wilie
A higher prevalence of serious mental illness is linked to the states having legalized marijuana. This is the first analysis of the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and mental health. The results of this analysis suggest that, at a population level, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a higher prevalence of serious mental illness, and cannabis use somewhat accounts for this association.
Similarly, research should continue to investigate the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and specific psychiatric disorders. Mental healthcare providers should continue to assess cannabis use among patients to understand its potential role in patients’ symptoms and treatment.
Policymakers should set aside funding for research that explores the relationship between cannabis legalization and mental health. This analysis also highlights the need for additional research that identifies factors other than cannabis use that may be responsible for the observed relationship between medical cannabis legalization and prevalence of SMI (serious mental illness).
Establishing a timeline of symptoms before and after initiation of cannabis use may be particularly useful.