Cannabis Psychosis: Psychosis, Yes, But Cannabis, No

Emergency rooms across the nation are seeing a small but worrisome bump in admissions of teens due to cannabis psychosis. However, “cannabis psychosis” is only a stop-gap term to describe what’s really happening. Adulterants are being added to weed in order to make the high more intense, with stronger hallucinogenic properties. However, those adulterants spell disaster for the user.  Users who encounter pot laced with these newer contaminants find themselves in a state of aggressive, terrified psychosis.

Note that this is not due to cannabis itself. Cannabis can have deleterious effects on people with reality disorders, but otherwise, not so. No, it’s the added chemicals causing the problems. “Fake pot” has been placed on Schedule 1 for a while now, meaning that K2, “spice,” and other such drugs are without any good use and have significant dangers. However, real weed sold on the street is still being cut with chemicals that are more closely related to designer drugs than anything else, and might I add, poorly designed at that.

Users of the contaminated pot (which may be less than half cannabis) fall into a zombie-like state that is notable for its physical violence when breaking A study by the Center for Disease Control in 2015 indicated that the reaction of each user is unpredictable. Some victims have had full on seizures requiring intubation of their airway to keep them breathing. Others become violent, agitated, then fall into a stupor from which they emerge shaken. Most will lose control of their limbs, presenting with a flailing motion that can harm themselves or others. Almost all users who come into contact with one of the contaminants will be paranoid, sometimes extremely so, for up to 72 hours. Drug screens don’t show the precise contaminants, at least not usually. They metabolize out of the system very rapidly. This is why in these cases, teens can sometimes appear to be high, yet pass a drug screen.

Parents and guardians need to keep a watch out. It’s crucial to educate kids that people selling illicit drugs are not interested in your well-being. They’re interested in making money, and their techniques to make a more addicting, more powerful drug creates life-threatening situations. Teens need to understand that what they buy may not be at all what they’re looking for. A similar situation exists for opioids sold on the streets. They too are being laced with far more powerful substances. Overall, the need for educating young people about the dangers of illicit drugs has never been higher.