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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 12:40 EDT

Cannabis Does Not Increase Suicide Risk

January 16, 2010

Doctors have declared that cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, does not increase the risk of a person taking their life, Reuters recently reported.

Dr. Stanley Zammit believes marijuana doesn’t have any strong effects on suicide whether it be through depression or anything else.

Zammit, of the department of psychological medicine at Cardiff University School of Medicine in the UK, conducted a study using a group of 50,087 men who were drafted into the Swedish military in 1969-1970. These men ranged in age from 18 to 20 at the onset of the study. At the time of being drafted, about one in ten of the men admitted to using marijuana. In the first analysis, Zammit and colleagues found a “much less consistent and overall weaker” relationship between cannabis use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and suicide.

The men who admitted to having this habit were 62 percent more likely to have committed suicide during the follow-up period than the men who had never used the drug.

To investigate further, Zammit and his team identified suicides among the recruits over the next 33 years in Sweden’s National Cause of Death Registry. During that time, there were 600 suicides or deaths from unknown causes.

Once researchers adjusted for factors that could influence both pot use and suicide risk, such as behavior problems in childhood, psychological adjustment, psychiatric diagnoses, drinking, smoking, and parental drug use, the increased risk of suicide associated with marijuana disappeared.

“I don’t think this can be interpreted as saying, ‘Well, there are no risks of using cannabis,” Zammit says.

He says these findings support the possibility that cannabis use may have a causal relationship with psychosis.

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