March 1, 2005



I am concerned that the study here is slanted towards a certain finding. It should be noted that many people who have pre-existing mental conditions will try, and have some success with, marijuana as a mood stabilizer. Self-medication, if you will.

Given the illegality of cannabis and the politics behind the "War on Drugs", the ability to do open, honest studies of cannabis use and its effects on mental illness is difficult. Any tales one hears of positive effects of cannabis use in treating symptoms of mental illness are apocryphal.

Of course, truly understanding a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, is still a work in progress. Defining the "illness" as a *disease* is still far from the mainstream mode of thought.

Read: Against Depression by Dr. Krause.

Visit: for just one "apocryphal" account.

Posted by: Bobby at September 15, 2005 11:04 AM

I would like to add to the glut of "apocryphal" testimonials to the efficacy of cannabis in treating bipolar affective disorder. The regular use of cannabis has allowed me to decrease the amount of Olanzapine I take (now a mere 2.5 mg. per day). When I do find myself slipping into psychotic thinking, I smoke before going to bed and the next days the troubling thoughts have disappeared. Whereas I was once mentally incapacitated by large doses of neuroleptic, I now feel alive again and able to face life awake and aware. That, statistically, smoking cannabis may increase the incidence of mental illness is accounted for by the fact the some users don't know when to stop and consume massive amounts: a sure recipe for paranoia and delusions.

Posted by: Mark at September 27, 2005 5:28 PM

Back when I did not know what bipolar was, my illness was much worse than befor I started smoking pot. Marijuana helps me stay awake and motivated, but now my doctors seem to have a tendency to blame substance abuse more and lessen the importance of my cyclothymia, which I have no doubt I've had since my early teens, well before I ever experimented with any drugs.
My meds do help my moods and perhaps one day I will no longer feel the need to smoke. But for at least now, it seems to have more therapeutic value to me than anything else. I negative connotations assosiated with pot do bother me, but these thoughts generally come from very biased, closed-minded people, so I try not to worry what people think.

Posted by: Angela at July 8, 2006 11:33 AM

I have been struggling with bipolar disorder that I've been diagnosed with around 2 months ago. I didn't previously know. Once before I knew, I had tried marijuana and I honestly felt much better. The euphoric effects didn't set in, but I was relieved of the negative depressive side of bipolar. I think it could be negative for some people just as much as some medications currently prescribed. Trial and error. It isn't always a bad thing.

Posted by: Mary at April 23, 2007 6:09 PM

I think in however-many years time, when the proper studies are done, Cannabinoids will be a mainstay treatment for Bipolar disorder. It's miraculous for me. I think that when it worsens people's symptoms this is a dosage issue. On my optimum dose I have the kind of life I've always wanted and I will fight to keep my medicine.

Posted by: Suzy at May 22, 2007 9:23 PM

I am bi-polar, and I am a marijuana user and only one word comes to mind after reading this study... Bogus.

Posted by: Tim at August 21, 2007 12:28 AM

If Cannabinoids do work for this disorder I have nothing against using them. The problem I have with these kinds of substances is that they should be used only inside hospitals and not by everybody whenever they need to feel different.

Posted by: narconon at September 6, 2007 12:47 PM

i was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004, i was treated for panic attacks and depression with Paxil until then, i am a cannabis smoker and in my experience cannabis helps me to deal with my symptoms but they do make me unsocial.
i have not smoked cannabis until my mid twenties and i do believe that cannabis usage caused me to have panic attacks, but i did have serious mood swings that i associate with my disorder since i was in elementary school, as well i think even as a bipolar patient individual assessment is needed to be able to determine the effect of cannabis in people with mood disorder, for one i have became calmer and more understanding of my illness as well as more accepting of the world around me.
the study might be right about that if you do have the risk of developing any of the mental illnesses they mention in the study, cannabis consumption might onset it before the actual "due" date of the illness, however have been talking to several people with mood disorder about cannabis use, and been reading the testimonials on-line. after the onset of the illness cannabis seems to help with the symptoms with less side effects than prescribed pharmaceutical medications.
please forgive any grammar errors i have made as english is my second language.

Posted by: jay at September 20, 2007 9:41 PM

I have a Bio Report on MaryJane and need as much information on it and I am having problems finding it!

Posted by: Brittany at September 27, 2007 1:46 PM

Marijuana is my last resort...i have been on just about everything doctors can prescribe for depression and in recent years bipolar disorder. marijuana helps...on two occassions i tried to stop smoking marijuana cause "its so bad" both of those times i ended up in the mental hospital suffering from major depression.
Marijuana helps to keep me even. no mania, no depression, just even. I can function better on marijuana than on some of the drugs i have been prescribed. I am a college student...4.0. I smoke before test because it calms my anxiety. I'm 33 years old and can remember everything just fine thank you.
When i hear people talk about the risks of marijuana i wonder if they know about the risks of bipolar disorder...if my options are smoke or kill myself, i choose smoking everyday allday.

Posted by: n at November 29, 2007 9:03 AM

I was diagnosed five years ago with Bipolar I disorder. I smoked cannabis for the first three years and never fully appreciated the benefits I was getting from it. I recently started smoking again after a two-year hiatus and have noticed an overwhelming difference in my ability to think, be energetic and happy, lively and productive. I believe that I need it on top of my medications to keep me even, and I forsee continuing to use it as long as it works for me.

Posted by: kate at December 27, 2007 2:49 PM

I am 19 years old and have been smoking for 3 years. I've known I've had bipolar disorder I my whole life. Previously to smoking I was suicidal and quite a pain in the ass to deal with. I have had a period of time in my life when I would have hallucinations, but those were brought about by the abuse of alcohol. There is nothing that marijuana could possibly do to hurt you. Currently I am taking the drugs for bipolar disorder and using only marijuana. I am currently stable and life is going smoothly. All I need to do personally is avoid alcohol and harsher drugs. I will be using marijuana for a long time. I think it is what keeps me from losing touch with reality. So after reading that study, I couldn't be laughing harder as they simply try to come up with another bullsh!t reason to make marijuana illegal

Posted by: Doug at January 5, 2008 2:28 PM

To all the people saying marijuana has helped them with their bi-polar all I have to say is, it isn't helping you its making it worse. The only reason its helping you is because of the THC in marijuana which gives you a high. The high makes you happy, and forget all the problems in your life, which is why people smoke weed in the first place, but even though it seems like its helping you it isn't because you are becoming addicted to it and won't be able to manage without it. You may think this report is stupid or bogus, but its true. Marijuana is just as bad as any other antidepressants. I'm not telling you that you should stop, I'm just saying its not good for you. Anything that becomes an addiction isn't good for you. If you think its helping you then fine use it, but trust its not helping your bi-polar get any better, and weed does cause bi-polar it has been proven.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 11, 2008 6:07 PM

First of all, I think it would be interesting to find out how these 1055 people were selected. If they went around asking people who already smoke if they would like to participate, and many of those people who smoke already were pre-disposed to mental illness, then I would think the results would be skewed from the get-go.

As for weed causing bipolar disorder, well, I think it's a bit premature to make that assumption when they are still trying to figure out what does cause it. Lots of people are bipolar and have never smoked weed. Just because something effects brain chemistry doesn't automatically suggest that it's bad for you.

I'm not going to come in here and tell you that smoking weed cures bipolar disorder. It doesn't. But all those grams of Depakote, Zyprexa, and Lamictal I've been shoving down my throat for the last 5 years didn't help either.

Look, if you don't want to smoke pot, that's your business. But if you've never smoked it, and then are going to tell everyone that it causes bipolar disorder, you're doing all the people you think you are helping a diservice.

All I can say to the original topic is that I was on the above listed medications for about 4 and a half years. It was a fight every single day to quell the mania and depression. Not to mention the meds themselves and all their 'awsome' side effects.

I threw all that crap out about a year ago. I started smoking pot about 8 months ago.

The manic and depressive episodes are still there, but I can actually socialize and function.

Again, weed is not a cure-all for any mental disorder. But I think it's a bit rash to dismiss it when there is zero evidence proving it's bad for you.

Show me a study where 1000 people were selected who start without any type of mental disorder, and then let them smoke pot for a year or two, and then let's see how many of them developed bipolar disorder.

When I see that report, I'll consider changing my view.

Posted by: Paul at May 22, 2008 11:24 AM

I have been struggling with a treatment resistant bipolar disorder for about 5 years now. In the last 5 years, I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, adhd, tourettes and other similar disorders, with bipolar being the best guess overall.
In that time I have taken over 30 different medications, all with severe and dangerous side effects like falling to the floor after getting out of bed, catatonia, seizures ect. Lamictal seemed to be the best tolerated medication but only at extremely low doses, not enough, and after a year I experienced suicidal thoughts at an extreme. (due to the use over time of the drug, and thoughts that never existed as part of my condition until on this medication) I had to make a decision to stop against all advice, and was better for it to the suprise of everyone around me. symptoms did not begin to be debilitating until I stopped smoking pot 5 years ago. I was not even diagnosed or had any need to be until I stopped smoking. I was able to work and was more capable than my counterparts in every job I held. I was a productive member of society, where now I am debilitated to the extent that I am on disability and cannot work.

After giving the medical community and the tests a shot, I can say that marijuana is still to this day the only thing that seems to have ever worked to any degree. ECT was very effective as well, but it is a different effect with severe memory loss. I currently do not smoke pot, but over the last 2 years have studied the effects over 2 short spans (less than a month) and can say that those studies I made had drastic beneficial changes. The incomprehensible legal issues are the only things that stop me from using this as my solution, aside from that, it is for certain the best solution available as it stands, for me and my chemical composition. This statement is from a sufferer who does not use it currently and has tried every other option known. I am not some addict (which is hardly an issue with marijuana if you know anything at all) not some pro pot reformist, but merely a person who uses my knowledge of the illness, science, my mental states and logic to deduce the full truth of it. The nature of these disorders though are specific to each while it may be the best for me I cannot say it would be for another, each person has biological, social, and physical parameters that affect the true makeup of the illness.

To use bipolar disorder as a blanket study against a certain drug is idiodic in itself. unlike a specific type of cancer or other medical ailments which are very straightforward and biologically specific. bi-polar origins and functions are still highly unknown and already proven to have variances so great that the case could be made that each disorder is its own issue.

I find it ironic how the medical community still has no specific detail of how these mood disorders actually work, yet have the gall to say they know that this for certain would contribute to the problem. It the same thing as a doctor saying they know how you feel without ever having your issue in the 1st place...there is no comparison to studies vs actually having the issue to deal with on a daily basis.

I take offense to this and other articles like it, to assume that what I know to be true for my issue (not yours) is wrong without knowing what it is we go through first hand is perhaps the most irresponsible thing you could ever do as a medical professional. It borders criminal to assume that medical issues should follow a social preference of treatment.

Posted by: Kevin at May 22, 2008 12:33 PM

I too have bipolar disorder and I'm a rapid/multi-cycler. I've been on everything that's made by pharmaceutical companies for my illness and never got any positive results. Lithium just made feel totally disconnected and catatonic. Sure, it kept my mania at bay, but at what cost? I was completely lifeless. A zombie. Not the way you want to go through life. Then there was depakote, lamictal, seroquel, and countless others with no success and lots of negative side effects. I began to use cannabis about a year ago at the suggestion of a very close friend who happens to be in psychology. After a short time using cannabis, I began to feel more "normal". My mania seemed to almost stop completely. Again, I'm a rapid and multi-cycler which means I cycle often and at times in both the manic and depressed spectrums simultaneously. Well, since using cannabis over a year ago I haven't had a full blown episode. Do I believe cannabis has helped me? Of course I do. Do I believe this article claiming cannabis use leads to bipolar disorder? No way!! In fact, this article is complete BS. Nothing but propaganda. Bottom line is it's not manufactured by the corporate pharmaceutical machine, so there's not much money for them to make on it, so of course these so-called studies are generated to create a negative view on it. It's time the government gets its head out of its butt and joins the 21st century. Cannabis is not a dangerous drug. You can not overdose on cannabis, and there's never been a single death reported from cannabis use. The only reason people believe it is dangerous is because they've been spoon-fed propaganda by our wonderful government. It's time they get with the program and legalize it for medicinal purposes. I can honestly say that cannabis has improved my quality of life by leaps and bounds compared to any manufactured psychiatric pharmaceutical ever could.

Posted by: Chris at June 25, 2008 6:08 PM

I�m Bipolar and on Celexa , other psych meds and smoke pot. After a full-blown manic episode, I feel that pot was a contributing factor to going manic. I think it may depend on the strength of the pot. Each type of pot has a different THC content. A weaker type of pot may be better for Bipolar people. My pot is pretty strong and increases my pulse from 70 bpm to 130 bpm. If you are like me and will continue to smoke pot regardless, look for warning signs that you could be going manic. If you can�t fall to sleep or are waking up in the middle of the night, you could be on your way to mania. Take your pulse to see if it is normal. If you can�t sleep and/ or your pulse is elevated, perhaps you should not smoke pot for a few days. My problem before, was not realizing that the pot was making me manic and increasing my pulse and continuing to smoke more pot. For me pot just seemed to fuel the mania fire.

Posted by: Billy at July 3, 2008 6:45 PM

I am bipolar but i also know that i have an addictive personality. Being a heavy marijuana user the past 4 years i can tell you that with time comes tolerance and the pot wont be doing the job it should after some time, in cases of daily use. It can be theraputic but i feel it can make mood swings worse and simply cause more racing thoughts. Dont get me wrong i love marijuana, but being 24 years old i think its time to put the bong down and learn how to cope with my problems without pot. I also agree that maybe the only reason pot is used in self medication is cause it gets you high and makes you care less about your problems. Personally whenever I smoke I find it only enchances the current mood that I am in. That being said I hope i can stop because when you use marijuana long enough the brain becomes almost reliant on it and in my research the cannabinoids in the brain will always have a craving or fixation for marijuana.

Posted by: Marc Coletti at July 16, 2008 7:38 PM

I have suffered bipolar symptoms since I was 15 years old and didn't start smoking pot until I was 18, and the symptoms immediately were reduced. Each time I go off of pot I end up destroying my life because of something I say or do in the manic state or because of the intense debilitation of the depression. I am 43 now, and this has been going on for some time. While using pot I build up my life and thrive because the anti-manic properties keep me from going over the edge, but when I run out the symptoms return, just as they do when I go off of prescribed pharmaceuticals, but the pharmaceuticals--unlike pot--always carry with them dangerous side-effects ranging from kidney and liver damage to seizures and tardive dyskinesia. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that any of the pharmaceuticals are more dangerous than pot. These studies are ridiculous because they are using reverse logic--first they find someone with bipolar and then ask them if they smoke pot and use statistical correlations to justify the biased conclusions they came into the study determined to prove. The fact of the matter is that people with bipolar are more likely to seek relief from their symptoms by self-medicating. It's chicken or egg, and the bipolar came first, not the weed, and any true scientist understands this while government propagandists use sophistry to promote their biases. With pot I can lead a normal life--graduated summa cum laude with honors degree while smoking every day in moderate doses; without pot my symptoms overwhelm me and I can't even be around people. Because the pharmaceutical industry is the one which will suffer the most if pot is legal they hire these "scientists" to propagate their bull, just as the only scientists in the world who don't believe in global warming are the ones hired by the oil and coal industries. If we are serious as a culture about easing the suffering of people with bipolar disorder, then we should invest in serious testing to find out the truth.

Posted by: erik at August 14, 2008 1:34 PM

I'm writing on behalf of a someone I'm concerned about: 24 years old, diagnosed as bipolar a year or so ago (previously dealing with depression since her late teens), has had 2 episodes of suicidal thoughts (last one was 2 years ago), is on Lamictal and 2 other drugs (she has IBS). She's been a bit of a pothead for a few years now, I imagine.

Because she worried the family this month with her calls home that she's "in trouble" & was also suffering from very low self-esteem, I visited her at grad school, taking her on day trips for a fresh perspective.

During that time, I observed her pot usage. She smokes 4 wide, cigarette-thick joints by herself each day which amounts to consuming an 8th of pot every 5 days. [And if it's not pot in her mouth, then it's a cigarette.]

But pot use is showing an addictive nature, in that her life revolves around it.

She's aware of losing ground in school, missing classes, and lack of motivation. And she hasn't been able to feel good about her new social life at school.

She had a messy break up with her boyfriend of 4 years a few months before school and was hoping to start anew in another state. But her old relationship insulated her from socializing/adapting and maybe gave her a sense of status she now lacks. And although she is a little boy-crazy (having always gotten along better with guys than gals) she is having trouble finding a clique for herself. Would that she felt stronger in her solitude.

For whatever reason, despite the hassles it causes her and everybody who loves her, she goes off her meds (or runs out) every few months and then crashes, in a deep self-loathing depression. She ultimately can be brought back to reason with logic, hand-holding, getting her back on the meds, and a good night's sleep. But they are very painful times with talks late into the night, and worry that lingers for days.

Here are my questions:

1) While she (hopefully) works out her problems while with the therapist, how do you assess the proper dose of pot? Many writers here believe it has enhanced their lives. I'd love to know the amount that fellow bipolars use to stay level-- it could be a very useful benchmark.

[At the encouragement of her therapist & family, she's now going to MA (marijuana anonymous) once a week to get support in trying to limit her usage.]

2) She recently had a crash: she'd gone off her meds, hated life, had low self-esteem, and wanted to come home. But she also said she had just gotten off pot for 24 hours. Did suddenly going without pot exacerbate her discomfort caused by missing her bipolar meds? Or was the pot withdrawal unrelated to her crash?

If any of you have thoughts, please write. I'm very grateful for the help.

Thank you.

Posted by: Barry at November 19, 2008 9:33 PM

my first bi-polar episoide was at 14, suicide and deep deppression. never took drugs or alcohol before this. i am now 54 and began useing pot 3 years ago. it really helps. been thru all the rx drugs and got toxic or rare side affects that put me in hospital. pot helps me stablize.

Posted by: conniehay at March 4, 2009 11:28 AM

I have been suffering from type II bipolar depression my whole life and it is Hell. Weed definitely helps me. People who want to judge us "self medicaters" DO NOT know what it is like to experience this disorder. I have been on meds with no luck, they actually made me feel worse. I will never play the med game again. I believe you have to learn how to cope with it and what works best for you, not based on societal parameters. I am an artist, and having an outlet for the torment inside me helps. Weed also helps. Surrounding myself with a positive environment and people help. Reducing stress in your life helps. We will probably never be cured, we just have to learn how to make it better. Both my brother and sister have my same symptoms, and we all smoke pot, not just to "get high", as some ignorant commenter said, but to cope with our mental and physical anguish. We are not loser potheads either. We are highly intelligent, productive people. Some may call it substance abuse, but it's my medication, and I know that someday it will be recognized for its medicinal qualities, as it already is in California. It affects more lives in a positve manner rather than negative.

Posted by: Amanda at December 10, 2009 3:42 PM

so true, all these comments,
since i started to smoke marijuana my depression vanished and i became hypomanic,
not totally happy still, but at least aware of my own feelings and not living like a robot anymore,
if i dont smoke marijuana i go downright crazy and not the other way around,
i just think psychiatry is made up by a bunch of dumb, know-it-all-betters, who feel superior to their patients but havent got a clue,
maybe people with psychiatric ilnesses are just people who are more connected to inner freedom and true humanity,
at least thats my experience,
its the 'normal'people i dont trust...

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