High potency marijuana strongly linked to psychosis

A sales associate uses a pair of chopsticks to hold a bud of Lemon Skunk the highest potency strain

She added: "If we recognise that we could get rid of 25 percent of people with psychosis if they didn't smoke skunk, that would make the problem of psychiatric shortages so much easier". And with all the buzz over medical marijuana, it's starting to gain an aura of healthfulness.

Taking any version of the drug on a daily basis was found to triple the chances of developing psychosis. Now research suggests the potency of the cannabis is also important, with patterns in cannabis use linked to how often new cases of psychotic disorders arise in different cities.

The researchers collected information about participants' history of cannabis use and other recreational drugs. "Cannabis for them could be an extra risk factor, but it definitely doesn't have to be involved".

To reach their conclusions, the researchers turned to 11 sites across Europe and another in Brazil and examined new cases of psychosis between 2010 and 2015, finding a total of 901.

The researchers then asked these individuals and a control group of 1,200-plus other healthy people about their habits, including their use of weed.

People reported the names of weed strains they used, such as skunk in the United Kingdom or the Dutch Nederwiet, which allowed the researchers to identify the THC content in each product through data gathered by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction and national data from the different countries. If high-potency cannabis were no longer available, 12.2 percent of cases of first-episode psychosis could be prevented across the 11 sites.

Use of high-potency weed nearly doubled the odds of having psychosis compared with someone who had never smoked weed, explains Di Forti.

Di Forti concluded that marijuana users should "avoid high-potency types and daily use, and seek a doctor's advice if concerned about experiencing psychotic symptoms".

Robin Murray, a professor at the IoPPN who also worked on the study, said it should be noted by all policymakers and any potential cannabis users. It found that the average potency of weed in Europe and the U.S.in 2017 was 17.1 percent, up from 8.9 percent in 2008.

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.

"In European cities where high-potency cannabis is widely available, a significant proportion of new cases of psychosis are associated with daily cannabis use and high-potency cannabis", Di Forti said.

High-strength cannabis, such as skunk, has levels of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) above 10%. The research comes after a Lancet study said cannabis is responsible for 60,000 cases of depression in young people in Britain.

"The use of cannabis with a high concentration of THC has more harmful effects on mental health than the use of weaker forms", said lead author Marta Di Forti, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King´s College London. Using it a couple of times a week was less unsafe, but still increased the risk 1.6-fold.

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