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Correlates to the variable effects of cannabis in young adults: a preliminary study

Ariella A Camera1*, Veronica Tomaselli24*, Jerry Fleming13*, Gul A Jabbar3, Melissa Trachtenberg4*, Juan A Galvez-Buccollini13, Ashley C Proal3, Richard N Rosenthal2 and Lynn E DeLisi13*

Author Affiliations

1 VA Boston Healthcare System, 940 Belmont Street, Brockton, MA, 02301, USA

2 St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1111 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, 10027, USA

3 Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattack Street, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

4 Langone School of Medicine, New York University, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, USA

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Harm Reduction Journal 2012, 9:15  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-9-15

Published: 30 March 2012



Cannabis use can frequently have adverse affects in those that use it and these can be amplified by various characteristics of an individual, from demographic and environmental variations to familial predisposition for mental illnesses.


The current study of 100 individuals, who were cannabis users during their adolescence and may still be users, was a survey of the self perceived effects of cannabis and their correlates. A reliable family member was also interviewed for determination of family history of various major mental illnesses and substance use.


As many as 40% of cannabis users had paranoid feelings (suspiciousness) when using cannabis, although the most frequent effect was feeling relaxed (46%). Having a familial background for mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia did not determine the effects of cannabis nor its pattern of use, although the number of subjects with such a history was small. An age at which an individual began using cannabis did have an effect on how heavily it was used and the heavier the cannabis use, the more likely the individual was also to have had psychotic symptoms after use. There were no sex differences in effects of cannabis. These results are tempered by the reliance on self-report for many of the variables ascertained.


Cannabis can frequently have negative effects in its users, which can be amplified by certain demographic and/or psychosocial factors. Thus, users with a specific profile may be at a higher risk of unpleasant effects from cannabis use and caution should be noted when cannabis is administered to young people for medicinal purposes.