“Cannabis: Scientists Call for Action Amid Mental Health Concerns” Ian Sample, The Guardian, 15 April 2016

The risks of heavy cannabis for mental health are serious enough to warrant global public health campaigns, according to international drugs experts who said young people were particularly vulnerable.

Scientists in the UK, US, Europe, and Australia are warning that frequent use of marijuana can increase psychosis in vulnerable people, and comes at a time close to the first UN special session on the global drugs problem since 1998. The majority of people who smoke cannabis do not develop psychotic disorders, but those who do usually have their lives ruined by hallucinations, delusions, and irrational behavior. Some may go on to recover from the episodes, while others develop serious issues such as schizophrenia. The risks for this diagnosis only become higher in those with continued heavy cannabis use. Public health warnings for cannabis have been extremely limited, but the time has come where researchers believe the evidence is strong enough to issue clear warnings. In the US specifically, marijuana has become more popular and potent than ever. Over the past 20 years, the strength of cannabis seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration has increased from 4%-12% THC. Meanwhile, the number of users rose from 14.5 million to 22.2 million in the seven years to 2014. In the UK, cannabis is the most popular illegal drug, and according to Public Health England data, more young people enter treatment centres for help with cannabis than any other drug, alcohol included. The number of under-18s in treatment for cannabis rose from 9,000 in 2006 to 13,400 in 2015. The drug now accounts for three-quarters of young people receiving help in specialist drugs centres. The most common age group is 15- to 16-year-olds. The evidence that cannabis can cause psychosis is not 100% conclusive, as it is still possible that people who are prone to psychosis are simply more likely to use the drug. But for some, such as this anonymous government spokesperson, their position on cannabis is clear: “We must prevent drug use in our communities and help people who are dependent to recover, while ensuring our drugs laws are enforced. There is clear scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health, and harms communities.”

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“Cannabis: Scientists Call for Action Amid Mental Health Concerns” Ian Sample, The Guardian, 15 April 2016


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