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Clin Schizophr Relat Psychoses. 2015 Apr;9(1):30-5. doi: 10.3371/CSRP.SHJO.030813.

Pathways to psychosis in cannabis abuse.

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Department of Psychiatry, Elgin Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis, The University of Western Ontario, and Mental Health Resource Foundation, Ontario, Canada, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Lawson Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Cannabis has been implicated as a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia, but the exact biological mechanisms remain unclear. In this review, we attempt to understand the neurobiological pathways that link cannabis use to schizophrenia. This has been an area of great debate; despite similarities between cannabis users and schizophrenia patients, the evidence is not sufficient to establish cause-and-effect. There have been advances in the understanding of the mechanisms of cannabis dependence as well as the role of the cannabinoid system in the development of psychosis and schizophrenia. The neurobiological mechanisms associated with the development of psychosis and effects from cannabis use may be similar but remain elusive. In order to better understand these associations, this paper will show common neurobiological and neuroanatomical changes as well as common cognitive dysfunction in cannabis users and patients of schizophrenia. We conclude that epidemiologic evidence highlights potential causal links; however, neurobiological evidence for causality remains weak.


Cannabinoid System; Cannabis; Psychosis; Schizophrenia; Transition to Psychosis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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