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Cannabis Appears to Protect Against Weight Gain in Patients with Psychotic Disorders

Updated on March 26, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

There’s big news for cannabis users with psychotic disorders out of the Journal of Psychopharmacology. A three-year longitudinal study has found that cannabis smoking may protect against weight gain, particularly in patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis. (And let’s not forget, edibles may help too!)

The research involved measuring glycemic and lipid parameters when patients first presented for treatment, and then again three years later. At both points, cannabis use was self-reported and study participants were divided into three groups: continuers, discontinuers, and non-users.

Continuers were those who continued using cannabis products throughout the three-year study duration while discontinuers were those using cannabis products during the first reporting period who were no longer doing so three years later.

The results showed a significant difference in weight gain among discontinuers and non-users compared to cannabis users. At the beginning of the study, cannabis users presented with lower weight, body mass index, cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. These results continued throughout the duration of the study. What’s more, the discontinuers presented with a higher increase in weight overall (compared to both continuers and non-users) from the start of the study to the end.

Psychotic episodes have been known to contribute to metabolic changes, but this research suggests cannabis could protect against those changes and prevent associated weight gain. While the researchers concluded more data is needed, these results fall in line with what we already know about marijuana and weight maintenance as well as marijuana and weight loss.