Reefer madness?

Illustration by Kate Mitrano

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Does weed cause psychosis or not? I am so confused right now.

—Auntie D. Pressant

Eh. I could’ve sworn we went over this just a little while ago. It seems like every week, some scientist is trying to prove that weed is bad for you, despite thousands of years of data and experience showing that cannabis is a fairly benign substance.

For the last time: Weed does not cause psychosis. That’s it. The Lancet publishes a study claiming that daily use of high potency cannabis can make someone three times more likely to experience some sort of psychotic episode (delusions, paranoia, yadda yadda) and people lose their minds. Everyone needs to calm down.

Daily experience has shown me that most people handle their weed just fine. And according to what Ian Hamilton (University of York mental health and addiction specialist) told Popular Science magazine, the odds of a heavy cannabis user having a psychotic episode are about 1 in 20,000. I will take those odds.

But if you are worried about it, there are things you can do, like smoke less weed, or make sure your pot has a decent CBD content. Philip McGuire, professor of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London, told CNN this: “If healthy volunteers are given THC this induces transient psychotic symptoms like paranoia. However, if volunteers are given CBD beforehand, this blocks the induction of psychotic symptoms by THC.”

So, the answer is: If you are very unlucky, weed might freak you out, but if you are smart you can take steps to beat the odds. Good luck.

A little birdie told me you are in Amsterdam. How is it?

—V. Lamme Sfrites

It’s very nice. I think it’s spring break because the place is freaking crowded. The weed is still illegal, but tolerated. My friend Derrick from the VOC (a Dutch organization similar to NORML) seems to think that full legalization isn’t very far away, though I wonder if legality would wreck the coffee shop scene, because almost all the hash in the Netherlands comes from Morocco. Mmmmm, Moroccan hash.

Where was I? Oh yeah. The prices are similar to California, 10 to 16 euros a gram, which is like $12 to $20. You can also buy a preroll (all weed, weed and tobacco, or hash and tobacco are the general options) or sit at the table and roll your own.

A lot of the regular non-weed selling bars and nightclubs seem to have a super relaxed attitude about people smoking in their lounges, so that’s nice. My only gripe is that there is a lot of weed I want to try, but I’m not trying to wreck my travel budget by buying 100 grams of weed.

I would love it if clubs (all the clubs, worldwide) could maybe offer a “weed flight,” like a bong hit or two or four or five different strains for the flavor chasers of the world. Just thought I would throw that into the universe.