There’s been a bit of research linking cannabis and psychosis, but, uh, there’s a caveat. The research is leaving women out of the mix—and that’s problematic for the science. A new study published Tuesday in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports found that most of the research involving psychosis and cannabis include mostly men.
Research Fails to Include Women
The team of researchers from the University of York reviewed more than 30 papers on the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia, a chronic mental disorder that can cause psychosis. The National Institute for Medical Health describes its symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
Previous research has shown links between cannabis consumption during pregnancy and psychosis in children, but it also shows that cannabis with high CBD content could help prevent some of the negative effects, which quite frankly lacks sufficient evidence to be conclusive. Part of the reason why is that women are underrepresented in medical research. Some studies are either entirely male, mostly male, or don’t share the gender composition.
“The research we looked at predominantly includes men and not women,” said author Ian Hamilton, who is a lecturer of mental health at the University of York, in a statement. “This could link to a wider problem with the lack of female scientists in addiction research also.”
Research Also Fails to Include People of Color
And that’s not all. The research also fails to include different cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities from around the world. Most cannabis research focuses on the Americas, Europe, and Australia, the new study found. What about African, Asian, and Middle Eastern nations? They’re left out of the mix, and so are whatever ways cannabis impacts their psychological well- being—if at all.
“Across the world governments are opening up access to cannabis for health or recreation,” Hamilton went on, in the statement. “This means that it is important that people have access to information about the risks as well as benefits of using cannabis.” And without including all this information, linking cannabis to psychosis is not so black and white. The study says that this link “has so far not been established.” The link has been known for over a century, per the study, but the details are important. Like how much THC content is in a strain versus CBD? The study points out how that can have an effect on the drug’s impact, too.
As the study notes:
“Dose and frequency of cannabis use continue to be reliable indicators in the risk of developing psychosis. However, some individuals appear to be sensitive to low levels of exposure to cannabis; it is still not clear whether that is due to increasing potency of cannabis or some other factor such as genetics.”
Finding out the different ways women and men are impacted is important in helping the medical community evaluate solutions. Without knowing who’s at greater risk, how are they supposed to devise proper targets for addressing it? The study shines a light on some of the gaps that remain when it comes to medical research on our weed. Before making conclusions, it’s key that these gaps be filled. Otherwise, we’ll be left scratching our heads.