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Psychol Med. 2009 Jun;39(6):951-6. doi: 10.1017/S0033291708004741. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

Acute cannabis use causes increased psychotomimetic experiences in individuals prone to psychosis.

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  • 1Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London, London, UK.



Epidemiological evidence suggests a link between cannabis use and psychosis. A variety of factors have been proposed to mediate an individual's vulnerability to the harmful effects of the drug, one of which is their psychosis proneness. We hypothesized that highly psychosis-prone individuals would report more marked psychotic experiences under the acute influence of cannabis.


A group of cannabis users (n=140) completed the Psychotomimetic States Inventory (PSI) once while acutely intoxicated and again when free of cannabis. A control group (n=144) completed the PSI on two parallel test days. All participants also completed a drug history and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ). Highly psychosis-prone individuals from both groups were then compared with individuals scoring low on psychosis proneness by taking those in each group scoring above and below the upper and lower quartiles using norms for the SPQ.


Smoking cannabis in a naturalistic setting reliably induced marked increases in psychotomimetic symptoms. Consistent with predictions, highly psychosis-prone individuals experienced enhanced psychotomimetic states following acute cannabis use.


These findings suggest that an individual's response to acute cannabis and their psychosis-proneness scores are related and both may be markers of vulnerability to the harmful effects of this drug.

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