Tag Archives: cannabis-induced psychosis

New book provides platform to warn other parents

We’re sick and tired of being ridiculed, ostracized and shamed by those who deny the way marijuana can ruin lives!  At last, the parents have a platform in print! When your child has a drug problem — and that drug is marijuana — they may not know it. But there is no limit to the entire family’s suffering. 

For Laura Stack, the outcome was the worst, the death of her son Johnny. Laura told that story in her book, The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana.  She also gave valuable insights into the science behind the harms of cannabis

Johnny’s Ambassador Publishing recently released its second book, The Impact of THC on Our Children: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare. In the new book, twenty-four other parents or families tell their story of the THC nightmare. Amazon.com sells the book in paperback, hardcover, Kindle and audible formats. The stories reveal the dangers of THC use and addiction on teens and young adults. The outcomes include severe mental illness, psychosis and suicide. Continue reading New book provides platform to warn other parents

Reefer Madness in Massachusetts and New York

Jared Ravizza’s knife attack on four girls, ages 9-17, in a Massachusetts movie theater shocked the nation last weekend.  Three of the girls were sisters and their mother spoke out in an interview.  Another attack occurred an hour later at McDonalds in Plymouth, MA, about 30 miles from the movie theater in Braintree.  (Fortunately, no one died, but these incidents are shocking and scary for the victims.)

As our social media watch dogs found out, Jared Ravizza filled his social media with photos related to smoking and drug paraphernalia. In April, he attacked his father, who claimed his son had a mental break.

Ravizza, 26, is also suspected of a murder in a small Connecticut town earlier that day. More details will emerge after a thorough investigation.  The Boston Globe reported on his colorful past and his more recent mental health episodes. 

Recent knife attacks suggest an increase in violence brought on legalizing pot in many states.  Maybe it’s time for an American to publish about suicides and violent assaults in our country, the same way Ross Grainger did it for Great Britain and Ireland.

Attacker Smoked Cannabis is available on Amazon

What is happening in New York?

A 70-year-old Australian woman was attacked last Thursday, May 30, at a New York subway station. A complete stranger whacked her in the head and yelled profanities. He made a gun gesture and allegedly said he would kill her. Fortunately, the cops came to her rescue and caught the attacker, Ryan Smalls, according to the New York Post.

“He was lighting up a joint in their face while they were arresting him,.” according to the woman’s daughter.  (See the photo in the Post)

Since New York legalized cannabis in 2020, violent incidents have occurred in the subways, some suggestive of cannabis-induced psychosis.  Below is a sampling of some of these incidences:

A man riding the subway with his daughter was threatened with a knife for asking a passenger to stop smoking pot. In fact others have been assaulted for merely asking the perpetrators to stop smoking pot.  A Brooklyn subway rider was assaulted by teen girls waved a boxcutter at a Brooklyn subway rider when he asked them to stop smoking marijuana on the train. There was another scuffle on November 14, 2023.

Government has the duty to protect its citizens, and states that legalize pot aren’t doing it. Cannabis is very idiosyncratic drug. Legalization states should post highly visible warning signs about psychosis. Stores sell high-potency THC products that didn’t exist before legalization.  Cannabis-induced psychosis may come on suddenly, or it may develop over time.   

We’ve written two recent articles on today’s reefer madness, because victims have not survived in Florida or Illinois.  (Read our article on why pot does not need be laced to cause extreme violence.)

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Is marijuana laced when it causes extreme psychotic reactions?

Christian Soto, smoked marijuana “laced” with something his friend gave him and went on a killing spree in Rockford, Illinois, on Wednesday afternoon. Soto stabbed his childhood friend Jacob Schupbach, ran over him and killed three others in a violent rampage.

From the New York Times:

“While detectives say the motive is not clear, they said that Mr. Soto told them he believed that drugs given to him by his friend were ‘laced’ with ‘ ‘an unknown psychotic,’ Mr. Hanley said, adding that Mr. Soto ‘said he became paranoid after the drug usage.’” Soto went to Mr. Schupbach’s house to smoke marijuana.

Marijuana need not be “laced” with anything to trigger an extreme psychotic reaction, a fact we’ve publicized since 2014.  (See Myth #2 of 10 Myths Marijuana Advocates want you to believe.)

This case echoes the Bryn Spejcher stabbing case, where the victim provided the marijuana that led to his death. Spejcher also stabbed herself, which Soto did not do. But he also killed Schupbach’s mother and two people unknown to him, a teen girl and a mail carrier.  News reports describe Soto and Schupbach as “childhood friends.”

The house where it began, at 2300 Holmes Street, stands about 2 miles from a pot shop, one of three “dispensaries” in Rockford.

Shortly after news broke of this mass murder, Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia vetoed a marijuana commercialization bill, noting that today’s high potency pot can cause immediate psychosis.  

Other Cases of Cannabis-Induced Psychosis

While the public may be horrified that a person in cannabis-induced psychosis can be acquitted, there’s precedence in other countries. Recently an Irish court suspended the trial of James Kilroy, who strangled his wife while in psychosis from THC. In Dublin, a jury found another man who suffered a cannabis-induced psychosis not guilty of his wife’s murder by reason of insanity.

One motive for keeping cannabis illegal acknowledges that, while somewhat infrequent, use of cannabis can trigger such unspeakable tragedies.  Few states with legalized marijuana require mental health warning labels or warning signs of psychosis on the walls in “dispensaries.”   Cannabis-induced psychosis can be acute, as in the Rockford stabbings, or chronic, as in the Kilroy case.

Different people react differently

If Soto was able to explain himself, his acute psychosis may have subsided by the time he told prosecutors his story. Was the marijuana purchased at one of Rockford’s three “dispensaries” or did it came from a drug dealer?  Such details may be revealed in the trial and after an investigation. Let’s hope the police release toxicology reports on Soto and Schupbach to the public.  Different people react to the same drugs differently.

Illinois legalized marijuana in 2020. Many incidents in the state suggest that opening state-regulated pot shops does not guarantee “safer” cannabis.  

Some people buy Delta-8 THC at smoke shops which also can cause extreme psychotic reactions. Illinois hasn’t banned these products, as about one-third of states have done.

Shame on the politicians who increased access to marijuana by legalizing it and made our lives less safe in the USA.

Other cases in the news

Sadly, these cases are not isolated events. We note a long and ongoing series of marijuana-fueled violent psychotic breaks. Take a look at a few examples:

  • Jake Notman stabbed his girlfriend more than 30 times and ran her over after eating a pot brownie. Like Spejcher, he was cleared of murder because he did not know “what was real and what was not”.   At the trial, Justice May said: “There is an obvious lesson…that cannabis can be very dangerous. It is an illegal drug for good reason.”
  • Lavrius Watson stabbed to death the mother of the children he was babysitting after eating a weed cookie and suffering an “adverse reaction”. He later pleaded “no contest” to murder.
  • Marquis Brown, a Duquesne University student, went to a friend’s apartment, smoked some weed, and then began acting erratically. When campus public safety officers arrived and tried to calm him down, Brown threw a chair through a window and leaped 16 stories to his death

The individual stories are framed by a larger narrative, as more and more research links the use of marijuana to increases in violence, self-harm,  and suicidality.   The  US ignored the warnings,  creating a more violent, drug-fueled society.  We could have prevented the Rockford tragedy, if the state hadn’t legalized marijuana.  Cannabis, not “laced” cannabis, triggers psychosis. 


The link between cannabis concentrates and psychosis | Guest View

By Lauren Davis, published in the Edmonds Beacon, February 18, 2021

In 2012, Washington voters approved Initiative 502, legalizing cannabis. Back then, the black market was dominated by dried cannabis flower, with a potency of approximately 10%.

Dried cannabis flower is biologically limited to about 30% potency, and I-502 capped the potency of edibles at 10%.

But in an oversight of extraordinary proportions, there was no potency limit established for cannabis concentrates like THC-infused vape oils, shatter, and dab wax. Enter science, industry, business investors, and profit motivation and, today, concentrates with 99 percent potency are readily available at cannabis retailers.

According to researchers, these concentrates are “as close to the cannabis plant as strawberries are to Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts.” Cannabis concentrate sales have soared from 14% of the market share in 2015 to 37% in 2019.

I have devoted my professional and legislative career to mental health and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Spurred by reports of youth with cannabis-induced psychosis filling emergency departments and psychiatric wards and high school students having psychotic episodes after dabbing (inhaling), I began to delve into the research on cannabis and psychosis.

The literature is both definitive and damning. Washington’s leading cannabis experts at the University of Washington and Washington State University recently released a consensus statement summarizing the science:

“High potency cannabis use can have lifelong mental health consequences, which often manifest in adolescence or early adulthood. Daily cannabis use, particularly of high potency products, increases the risk of developing a psychotic disorder, like schizophrenia, and is related to an earlier onset of symptoms compared to people who do not use cannabis.”

During the 2020 legislative session, I introduced a bill to cap the potency of cannabis concentrates at 10%. This figure matched the limit for edibles and was a starting point for negotiation. The bill included an exemption for patients using high potency concentrates for medical purposes.

I had numerous meetings with cannabis industry representatives, and no one was aware of the psychosis link. Though they disagreed with my proposed solution, industry leaders were emphatic in their commitment to coming to the table as thoughtful partners to address this issue.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, instead of proposing more palatable policy solutions as promised, cannabis industry representatives testified before the House Commerce & Gaming committee that the research implicating cannabis in psychotic disorders is unfounded.

Borrowing from the well-worn playbooks of their forefathers, big tobacco and opioid manufacturers, cannabis business leaders attempted to poke holes in the science and offer alternative explanations.

In 1957, tobacco industry director Clarence Cook Little wrote: “No one has established that cigarette smoke, or any one of its known constituents, is cancer-causing to man.”

Sixty-three years later, cannabis industry leaders testified to our legislature that “cannabis use [is] not independently associated with psychosis.”

Modeling after Purdue Pharma, the opioid maker that wrote that addiction “is not caused by drugs … it is triggered in a susceptible individual by exposure to drugs,” the cannabis industry tried to offer a counter theory – that it is people who have a genetic predisposition for psychotic disorders who are developing them and then using cannabis to self-medicate.

That theory has been debunked by studies that account for family history and still show a significant increase in psychotic disorders from cannabis use.

I never anticipated the cannabis industry would enthusiastically agree to a low potency limit. I only expected them to make good on their word – to show up as earnest partners in addressing their product’s role in one of the largest emerging health crises of our time.

When the industry’s opening move is to spit on the consensus of the scientific community in the spirit of climate deniers, it’s difficult not to question the sincerity of their espoused commitment to public health.

I’ve introduced House Bill 1463, which caps the potency of cannabis concentrates at 30% and raises the age of purchase for concentrates from 21 to 25. Washington’s cannabis industry now has a second chance to act with integrity and come to the table as problem solvers.

It is only the fate of our children with which we are gambling.

Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) serves northern King County and a portion of Edmonds in the 32nd Legislative District. She was the founding executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance and taught UW’s graduate mental health policy course.