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Is New Denmark Study Linking Cannabis to Schizophrenia, a Smear Campaign?

smear campaign
Written by Sarah Friedman
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We know that governments are totally cool with spreading bad information, even if we sometimes don’t want to believe it. That Reefer Madness was ever a thing, is a massive indication of such truths in life. So, it’s not a huge surprise that cannabis-resistant country Denmark, has a new smear campaign linking cannabis to schizophrenia.

The recent smear campaigns by the US, and Denmark concerning cannabis and health issues like schizophrenia, don’t change much in the end. We know cannabis is just fine. And we’ve got thousands of years of evidence to back it up. If you have a medical issue that could benefit from cannabis, or just want to feel good, we want to get you your product. Check out our array of Delta 10, THCV, THC-O & Delta-8 THC deals, and a wealth of other compounds, to find your ideal way to use cannabis. And if you’re concerned, please, do the real research, don’t buy the hype of governments who want to determine which products you’ll buy, based on who puts money in their pockets.

First off, what’s schizophrenia?

According to MayoClinic, “Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling. People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Early treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complications develop and may help improve the long-term outlook.”

Much like every standard government-line site that speaks about schizophrenia, this is the general definition. All these sites will also tell you about symptoms and when you should consult a doctor. And most like to add in segments about risk factors, complications, and prevention, none of which any of these sites can give real information on, because these things aren’t known. What you will certainly never see on any of these sites, is how schizophrenia can be absolutely diagnosed, and what causes it. And it doesn’t matter if you look at Mayo, the WHO, or psychiatry.org.

According to basic statistics, which tend to vary for reasons coming up in the next section, the National Institute of Mental Health puts it at this rate for the US: between 0.25% and 0.64%, and this rate for the whole world: 0.33% to 0.75%, which accounts for those not institutionalized. There is, in fact, nothing to indicate that the numbers go higher than 1% worldwide, or that this has changed over decades (or even centuries) of time. This is important for what comes up later.

Cannabis schizophrenia

Is Denmark cool with cannabis?

To start with, Denmark is not a weed-friendly country. Cannabis is illegal for recreational use, with fines and prison sentences for basic crimes like purchase, sale, delivery, or cultivation. Once the amount reaches 10kg, prison sentences of 10 years can be attached. Denmark doesn’t even have a comprehensive medical program, allowing only three large pharmaceutical cannabis medications to be sold with prescription: Sativex, Marinol and Nabilone. The country is getting near the finish of a four-year pilot program which allows test subjects use of the full plant, but what will come of this is hard to say.

The only contradiction in all this, is the Freetown of Christiana. Christiana is a little enclave in Copenhagen, which for different reasons over the years, has retained the ability for an uninterrupted illegal drug market. Considering this is the only place this happens, and owing to the country’s very strict cannabis laws in the year 2021, it suffices to say that Denmark might still hold a bit to the smear campaigns of prohibition, and that makes what comes next, not shocking, just silly.

So, what is Denmark saying about cannabis and schizophrenia?

In July, 2021, this study came out, Development Over Time of the Population-Attributable Risk Fraction for Cannabis Use Disorder in Schizophrenia in Denmark. According to this study, ‘problematic marijauna use’ (whatever that even means), with schizophrenia, increased by 2% in 1995 to 6-8% since 2010…though I find this lack of an end date a little disconcerting.

So let’s get into why this is ridiculous. First off, this study was a ‘nationwide, register-based historical prospective cohort study’, meaning every resident of Denmark was included, who was born before the end of the year 2000, and who was alive and at least 16 years of age from the beginning of 1972 till the end of 2016. This study did not deal with talking to anyone in person, but relied only on in-patient and out-patient medical data taken from the Psychiatric Central Research Register, which only started looking at out-patient care in 1995. Meaning there weren’t any statistics before this, making a comparison to a time before this, moot.

The National Patient Register was used to establish cannabis cases, though it only contains info on inpatient and outpatient treatment – outpatient only starting in 1995. Since ‘cannabis use disorder’ is just as subjective as schizophrenia, the idea that all those earmarked as having the disorder – especially in a country that barely even allows medical treatment with the drug, makes it beyond silly to assume that so many people have had problematic use issues with it.

Furthermore, and as always in studies that rely solely on subjective opinions, we have no information on the doctors that gave diagnoses, or their particular biases, or changing methodologies in diagnostics through that time. And though the study authors say they account for other substances used, and other psychological disorders, they also worked off a lot of old information, and never talked to anyone specifically. Plus, it could have become more popular to make such diagnoses through this time. After all, do you really think the same number of cannabis disorders would’ve been cited in 1995 as 2016? It probably wasn’t even thought about in 1995.

Denmark cannabis schizophrenia

What’s the biggest reason this study is complete BS? Denmark, like so many other places to pull this move (France with CBD, Colorado with delta-8, and the US just recently with a study concerning altering brain structure in teens), does allow the sale of pharmaceutical cannabis. Which means, so long as a major pharmaceutical company produces it, most countries don’t seem to think it’s a problem. Any time a country is willing to let in a pharmaceutical version, while at the same time continuously demonizing the natural version, you know you’ve got an issue.

Oh yeah, and this entire study was funded by Lundbeckfonden, which is the biggest shareholder of Lundbeck the pharmaceutical company. Somehow the study authors did not see this as a conflict of interest that the pharmaceutical company funding their study, specifically looks for treatments/issues concerning psychiatric and neurological disorders…for profit. And might not like the idea of competing with cannabis.

Why is schizophrenia controversial?

Getting into schizophrenia, especially when dealing with something like cannabis, goes beyond dicey, into quite controversial. And there is one main reason why. The one thing that causes the most distress for a researcher like myself, is that schizophrenia, much like every other psychiatric disorder (apart from anxiety), has no medical definition. If this sounds strange because people are given the diagnosis plenty of the time, the question becomes, what kind of diagnosis are they being given?

A medical diagnosis means that something can be medically identified. If you have cancer in the brain, it can be diagnosed. Tests can be run, biopsies done, scans of whatever kind, and the cancer can be located and identified. If you have diabetes, this can be determined by looking at blood glucose levels as well as insulin production. If you have a specific viral, bacterial, or fungal infection, that infection can be looked at under a microscope and identified. And if you have a thing growing on your arm, you can have it checked, and identified as a tumor, wart, blister, or any number of other issues. But the point is, it can be identified.

Psychiatric disorders have no medical diagnosis – and this can be said as fact. There isn’t a scan to be done, blood test that’ll work, or biopsy from a body part, that can give an answer. The only thing there is, is the belief of someone who went through some kind of training. That’s what a subjective diagnosis is. It’s a person’s opinion. Based on whatever they base it on, and meant to fit into a predesigned category of symptoms, which usually comes with a pharmaceutical treatment attached.

The NIMH literally makes this statement: “Precise prevalence estimates of schizophrenia are difficult to obtain due to clinical and methodological factors such as the complexity of schizophrenia diagnosis, its overlap with other disorders, and varying methods for determining diagnoses.” Is there a better way to say that there isn’t more specific information, because its all subjective? And what can then be expected from a study like this out of Denmark saying cannabis is related to schizophrenia?

Denmark cannabis schizophrenia

A little logic

I’ve smoked weed for over 20 years. Want to guess how many other smokers I know? The majority of people I come into contact with, actually, and I can’t think of even one person who would fit into this idea of having problematic cannabis use. Not. Even. One. And I have a degree in psychology, have spent time interning in mental institutions, and worked for many years in behavioral psychology. I know people on all kinds of drugs, at all levels of use, and I have yet to meet even one person who has had the kind of issue that is insinuated by the term ‘cannabis use disorder’.

Now, I might not be a doctor, but I know plenty of people with alcohol, cocaine, benzodiazepine, and opiate issues to the point of being real problems. As a person coming from psychology (my degree is from the University of Pittsburgh), and as a cannabis user, I am still head-scratchingly confused how using cannabis can be considered a disorder at all, and who on earth has it, given that in my over 20 years of being in the cannabis community, I haven’t witnessed it once.

Of course, doctor’s don’t always know everything, and they often don’t follow their own training…and we know this from the current opioid epidemic, and the ridiculous number of prescriptions written by trained professionals who couldn’t think critically enough to not prescribe highly addictive medication to nearly everyone. Sometimes they don’t think for themselves at all, and just listen to what big pharma tells them. It’s hardly uncommon for several different doctors to give several different diagnoses to the very same patient. And this is concerning, because it indicates that there isn’t a definitive answer, and that people might be getting diagnosed for something they don’t have, and/or be given unnecessary medications.

Since there isn’t a definitive way to diagnose it, it does sure make questionable the idea that we can have easy-to-understand statistics on it, or even statistics that remotely come close to useful. Not only that, it means there is a growing body of research and systematic reviews, all based on these baseless subjective opinions.

Cannabis & Schizophrenia – Conclusion

It almost doesn’t matter what came out of Denmark about cannabis and schizophrenia, the study is so massively flawed it doesn’t make a difference. Any study going off subjective diagnoses, and paid for by a pharmaceutical company, always will be, and there’s no way around that. In fact, not only is it flawed, it’s downright dangerous. These studies help put people in mental institutions, on severe medications, or rule out that which can actually be beneficial.

If the rate of schizophrenia has remained consistent through time (go ahead and try to find something that says otherwise), and if cannabis is the most popular drug through time (apart from alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine), then the only thing this study says, is that the government wants to promote fear about the natural plant, so it can sell the pharmaceutical version.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

*** This is an opinion piece that mainly reflects the author’s opinion about a subject ***

About the author

Sarah Friedman

I am a US born writer, travelling the world and doing the digital nomad thing.

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