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Medical marijuana could be used to treat and prevent schizophrenia, if a new compound found in marijuana tested on young Australians proves to work on afflicted patients.
According to European researchers, the drug could be more effective than any other in treating schizophrenia and have fewer side effects. Marijuana, once believed to increase the risk of psychosis, now appears to relieve its symptoms. Leading psychiatrist and mental health advocate Patrick McGorry, too, has stated that the drug has promise as an anti-psychotic medicine.
“There's been a lot more concern in recent times about antipsychotic medication. Obviously it's really effective, but the longer term side effects are worrying people,” McGorry said. “People are willing to try more experimental treatments that have got some promise and cannabidiol (CBD) is definitely one of those.”
Despite McGorry’s promotion of the drug as an aid in preventing psychosis, he has recognized that the drug possesses both good and bad qualities.
“We’re definitely not saying smoke dope to treat psychosis,” McGorry said.
Other experts in the field have also have approved the use of cannabis in the treatment of psychosis. For example, director of the University of NSW’s National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center Jan Copeland has suggested the usage as a treatment, noting that CBD is an interesting part of marijuana that does not get the user high. Instead, CBD balances the THC in marijuana.
Copeland has warned people not to seek CBD in street portions of marijuana, since it often contains little of the compound, thus differentiating medicinal and recreational cannabis. Copeland has noted that there is no evidence yet supporting McGorry’s theory, and that it will be interesting to view the results.
McGorry plans to apply for funding soon and reports that he doesn’t expect ethical hurdles.
Sources: The Sydney Morning Herald
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