Friday, 26 April, 2019

Study finds strong cannabis linked to psychosis

Man smoking marijuana Enlarge Image Shutterstock
Anna Jefferson | 21 March, 2019, 16:40

The risk increased to almost five times more likely in those who smoked high-potency marijuana on a daily basis.

"Cannabis carries severe health risks and users have a higher chance of developing psychosis".

In the new study, the researchers found that about 30 percent of patients with psychosis reported daily marijuana use, compared with just 7 percent of controls (people without psychosis); and 37 percent of patients reported high-potency marijuana use, compared with 19 percent of controls. They compared these patients with more than 1,200 random folks who'd never been diagnosed with psychosis.

Potent cannabis types with more than 10 percent of the psychoactive ingredient THC were linked to a five times greater risk.

Adjusted for other factors, people who used cannabis daily were three times as likely to be diagnosed with an initial episode of psychosis, and people who used high-potency cannabis were about five times more likely to develop psychosis, according to the research.

"We asked people if they used cannabis, when did they start using it and what kind of cannabis", explains study author Marta Di Forti, a psychiatrist and clinician scientist at King's College London.

A third of psychosis cases in London are the result of smoking skunk, according to a study that underlines the danger of super-strength cannabis. In London, 2 in 10 cases were linked to daily use, while 3 in 10 were linked to high-potency use. The fact that consuming high-THC cannabis products has a greater risk is concerning, Lisdahl says, because these products are more common in the market now.

More studies using different designs "could help us to triangulate evidence and get a better idea of whether it's truly a causal effect", Gage said.

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If high-THC cannabis - including strains such as "trainwreck", "gorilla glue", and "hindu kush" - were no longer available, "12 per cent of cases of first-episode psychosis could be prevented across Europe", the researchers calculated. But the new study shows that cities with more easily available high-THC weed do have a higher rate of new diagnoses of psychosis.

The new study is "in line with a lot of research over the last few years showing an association between use of marijuana ... and onset of psychotic illness", said Dr. David Roane, chairman of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved with the study.

It is the biggest study to look at the impact of marijuana on psychiatric disorders.

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.

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, which is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is attempting to tease out the various influences, Lisdahl says.

"That could be the thing that tips the scale for some people", she told the AP.

Dr Di Forti said even low-THC cannabis oil, used for epilepsy and MS, should come with a warning of possible mental health effects.

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