High potency cannabis use linked to psychosis finds study

Alfie Dingley with his mother Hannah Deacon who was told her medicinal cannabis supply was being halted because it had become available on the NHS

"They estimated that people who smoked marijuana daily were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared with people who never used the drug, and the risk increased to almost five times more likely among those who used high-potency marijuana daily".

They found daily marijuana use was more common among people with a new psychosis diagnosis than among those who did not smoke marijuana. However, she and her team estimate that out of five new psychosis cases, one may be related to daily marijuana use and one in 10 cases is due to high-potency weed.

The evidence shows those types of users may actually be three times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder than someone who has never used cannabis.

In Amsterdam, the incidence of first-time psychosis would likely drop from 38 to 19 per 100,000 people per year, while in London, the number of cases would decline from 46 to 32 per 100,000 people.

The researchers collected information about participants' history of cannabis use and other recreational drugs.

"If you are going to legalise cannabis, unless you want to pay for more a lot more psychiatric beds and a lot more psychiatrists, then you need to devise a system where you would legalise in a way that wouldn't increase the consumption and increase the potency", study author Sir Robin Murray told The Guardian.

Skunk contains more THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, than regular cannabis, and THC can induce psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

Cannabis oil treated my epilepsy I went from Universal Credit to work
Cannabis oil treated my epilepsy I went from Universal Credit to work

People who use cannabis every day run a significantly higher risk of developing the serious mental illness psychosis, especially if they use more potent forms of the drug, such as skunk, scientists said. In their analysis, 30 percent of the 901 first-time psychosis patients they observed reported daily cannabis use, compared to 7 percent of the 1,237 in the control group.

The European research, which checked out hashish use in 11 leading cities and Brazil, is the primary to point out the effect of marijuana use on charges of psychosis, an extreme psychological situation, in massive populations. But they note that the cut-off of 10% THC for potency is conservative.

Because this was an observational study, it can't prove a direct cause-and-effect link between pot and psychosis, said Suzanne Gage, a psychologist with the University of Liverpool who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

Voices for legalisation of cannabis have been growing in recent months, buoyed by the Government's decision to permit limited use for medical treatment.

Even the Royal College of Psychiatrists is reviewing its position to consider the view that decriminalisation would give the government power to regulate its strength and generate taxes.

Researchers from King's College London studied 2,100 people in 11 cities in Europe and South America in the biggest study of its kind.

And they said that even medicinal cannabis oil - available in the United Kingdom for a very limited number of people - should come with a warning of psychosis as a possible side effect.

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