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High-strength cannabis increases risk of mental health problems

High-strength cannabis increases risk of mental health problems

About 900 people who were diagnosed with a first episode of the disorder at a mental health clinic, including those with delusions and hallucinations, were compared with more than 1,200 healthy patients.

Presenting results of a large worldwide study conducted in one in site Brazil and across 11 sites in Europe - including in Amsterdam, London and Paris - the researchers found that people who used cannabis daily were three times more likely to have an episode of psychosis than people who had never used it. That number increased to a startling five times more likely for those who used high-potency cannabis-anything with at least 10% THC-daily. Conclusion -Smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis - in which people lose touch with reality - by almost five times. They then observed that if there was no supply of high-potency cannabis, cases of first-episode psychosis would be preventable.

The study found that the three European cities - London, Paris and Amsterdam - had the highest rates of new diagnoses of psychosis - 45.7 per 100,000 person-years in London, 46.1 in Paris and 37.9 in Amsterdam.

The spread of the most powerful form of the drug is taking its toll on mental health, and a push towards legalising marijuana must deal with this, researchers say.

"Therefore, it is of public health importance to acknowledge alongside the potential medicinal properties of some cannabis constituents the potential adverse effects that are associated with daily cannabis use, especially of high-potency varieties", the authors write.

The scientists found that daily marijuana use increased the likelihood of a psychotic disorder, and this was five times more so in those who consumed high-potency weed variants.

Many countries - including most recently Canada - have legalized or decriminalized cannabis use, leading to some concerns about increased use and its potential harm. But they note that the cut-off of 10% THC for potency is conservative.

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.

"This fact undermines the theory that cannabis exposure is a direct cause of psychosis in otherwise non-predisposed subjects, and instead indicates that those most likely to express psychotic symptoms probably possess a predisposition to both cannabis use and psychosis", Armentano said. It is perfectly possible that the association between cannabis and psychosis is bidirectional. It was paid for by funders including Britain's Medical Research Council, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Di Forti's team investigated data from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Brazil, where it's also legal. The PAF assumes causality between daily/high potency cannabis use and first episode psychosis.

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