Cannabis and Psychosis – Is there a link?

On the 29th of January, AMRA held its first cafe of 2017 at the Nasir Mosque in Gillingham. The event focused on the research of Psychiatry registrar and PhD student, Dr Musa Sami, who is based at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.

The cafe began with an introduction and an attempt at defining the condition of Psychosis which was more complex than at first glance. The talk then expanded on the culture and history of cannabis use. Dr Musa presented his own work that linked the two areas. He discussed his cutting edge research that worked to develop a better understanding of the effects of drug misuse and if symptoms of psychotic behaviour could be identified more readily.

After Zuhr/Asr namaaz the event was enriched by refreshments in the form of a light lunch of sandwiches and fruit. This was one of the most valuable parts of the event for those in attendance as it facilitated discussion between both the speaker and also other experts in the research area that were present at the event.

Two of the key points of discussion were:

i) based on the evidence available concerning the links between drug misuse and psychosis, should cannabis be legalised? This is a long-running debate and the benefits and shortcomings were critiqued and assessed. As is typical with a room full of academics, no definite conclusion was reached, but there are certainly strong arguments to control such substances that can be found in the Quran.

ii) the hypothesis presented by those of non-religious backgrounds that spiritual events, such as revelation, are psychotic events. This was a valuable discussion as it elucidated and separated the key characteristics of both events and shed light on why, fundamentally, the two can not be considered alike. Revelation fills the person with a greater realisation of moral truths, an understanding of human nature, or a set of laws or instructions with a clear and defined structure. In fact, it is on the foundation of such truths that the law of the secular west is built – hardly a good idea if the outcome of psychotic episodes. On the other hand, psychotic events are erratic, unstructured, and offer those that suffer from such episodes no feeling of enlightenment. However, could spiritual events be using the same pathways? Potentially. There is certainly much research to be carried out in this area!

Our next cafe will be held in London and focusing on Cosmology, led by the work of Dr Furqaan Yusaf. We look forward to seeing there. Details for registration will be available soon! If you want to sign up to the AMRA newsletter, please email: research@khuddam.co.uk

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