LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Just in time to coincide with the decriminalization of marijuana in D.C., a University of Oxford study reveals why pot makes people paranoid.
Two-thirds of the 121 study participants were injected with 1.5 milligrams of THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, and the remaining third were injected with a placebo.
They were then given a range of tests to measure their “suspiciousness”, including “real-life social situations, a virtual reality simulation, self-report questionnaires and clinical interviews.”
Researchers found that THC increased the likelihood of paranoia occurring. Half the participants had paranoid thoughts with THC, and 30 percent experienced it with placebo. That means 1 in 5 participants had an increase in paranoia directly attributable to the THC.
The abstract of the study says that its objective was to determine whether THC causes paranoia, “and to use the drug as a probe to identify key cognitive mechanisms underlying paranoia.”
“The study very convincingly shows that cannabis can cause short-term paranoia in some people,” says lead researcher Professor Daniel Freeman.
It also “identifies a number of highly plausible ways in which our mind promotes paranoid fears,” he says. “Worry skews our view of the world and makes us focus on perceived threat. Thinking we are inferior means we feel vulnerable to harm. Just small differences in our perception can make us feel that something strange and even frightening is going on.”