Monday, March 19, 2012

IACM-Bulletin of 11 March 2012

cannabis medicine International Association for Cannabis as Medicine


Science: Use of cannabis was not associated with disease severity after a first psychotic episode in a prospective two-year controlled trial


Researchers of Yulius, a Mental Health Institute in Dordrecht, The Netherlands, conducted a randomized, open-label, controlled trial to investigate the association of cannabis use with measures for mental health and social role functioning in 124 patients suffering from non-affective first-episode psychosis. Patients were followed for 2 years. Other patient characteristics that were expected to be independently associated with outcome, among them alcohol and other drug use, were assessed at baseline.

Continued cannabis use was not associated with symptomatic or functional remission or clinical recovery. After 2 years, cannabis use was related to certain aspects of social role functioning, namely economic and social activities. By the end of the trial, 53 percent of study participants had seen their psychotic symptoms go away, with cannabis users just as likely as non-users to recover. They also had as good a chance of "clinical recovery," which meant their symptoms were gone and their daily functioning was back to normal, or close to it. Still, cannabis users did show an increased risk of certain "social" problems, scoring lower on questionnaires gauging financial independence and social activities. "In real life, this could mean that continuing cannabis use has a detrimental effect on social functioning," lead researcher Gunnar Faber told Reuters. He noted, though, that any effects would vary from one user to another - and the findings don't necessarily mean that cannabis itself caused the social problems. Few cannabis users in the study used it heavily, which may help explain why cannabis did not seem to have strong effects on recovery, he said.

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(Sources: Reuters of 1 March 2012; Faber G, Smid HG, Van Gool AR, Wunderink L, van den Bosch RJ, Wiersma D. Continued cannabis use and outcome in first-episode psychosis: data from a randomized, open-label, controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2012 Feb 21. [in press])

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