Recent news of a teenager charged with the murder of one of Melbourne’s homeless citizens has many people worried. News has speculated that the accused young man had recently started using cannabis, and this changed his behaviour.
It’s important to remember that media portrayals of mental illness tend to be inflammatory, and can often imply a causal link between drug use, mental illness and crime.
Nevertheless, it’s a timely reminder for parents and their adolescents to improve their awareness of evidence-based research in the area of cannabis use. There is an association between cannabis use and mental illness, but it’s not a causal link.
This means that cannabis use has not been shown to directly ‘cause’ mental illness, but there is a potential for it to exacerbate difficulties in someone who is already vulnerable to mental illness.