Skunk 'psychosis risk' warning
BBC NEWS Health Skunk 'psychosis risk' warning
People who smoke the strongest form of cannabis - known as skunk - may be more at risk of psychosis than those who use milder forms, UK researchers claim. (but they dont ask, how does prohibition help, nor explore how unregulated and criminal markets induce madness? /Blair)
In a study of 300 people, those who had suffered an episode of psychosis were 18 times more likely to have smoked skunk than other cannabis users.
A Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting heard they were also more likely to use cannabis every day.
But experts urged caution over the interpretation of the findings.
The evidence on the link between cannabis and psychotic illness such as schizophrenia has been inconsistent.
|We should take a cannabis history in a more detailed way like we do when we take a history of cigarettes smoking to establish risk of lung cancer - Dr Maria Di Forti|
Earlier this year the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs concluded there was a probably a weak link between the two but that it is not yet clear if this link will become stronger as use of skunk becomes more widespread. (It didnt stop the the DAILY MAIL from reporting this headline "Why 'skunk' smokers are 18 TIMES more likely to become psychotic ...UK - 2 Jul - psychotic vs clinical detection of some characteristics of psychosis, one of which is 'but i like my skunk, i prefer skunk, dont take my skunk away' falls way short of psychotic! )
Study leader, Dr Maria Di Forte from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said confusion had occurred because some other studies had lumped all cannabis use together.
She looked at data from 197 people referred to a mental health unit with a first episode of psychosis, of whom 112 had used cannabis at some point and 120 controls, 72 of whom had used cannabis.
Among those who used the drug, people who had a psychotic episode were twice as likely to have used cannabis for longer, three times more likely to have used it every day and 18 times more likely to use skunk.
NOTE: THC doses have anxiolytic and antidepressive properties. Higher doses have reversed effects: they are highly anxiogenic and depressogenic. High THC doses can produce schizophrenia-like psychoses, which usually go without negative symptoms and remit after THC has been excreted, mostly within one week of abstinence
(Mathers and Ghodse, 1992, McGuire et al., 1994, Hall and Degenhardt, 2000, Johns, 2001). /Blair
Skunk is three times stronger than other types and now accounts for between 70% and 80% of samples seized. Dr Di Forte said if the preliminary results were proven it raised concern about the increasing availability of skunk. She urged psychiatrists to question their patients more carefully about their drug habits.
"We should take a cannabis history in a more detailed way like we do when we take a history of cigarettes smoking to establish risk of lung cancer.
"But it would be naive to say that smoking a joint is safe as we do not have enough data to reach such conclusion," she added. (why is it not naive to say it is harmful absent evidence to say it is)
Co-researcher Dr Paul Morrison said skunk has higher levels of THC which causes the psychotic symptoms and lower levels of another compound called cannabidiol which seems to protect users from the effects of THC.
Professor David Nutt, an expert in psycho-pharmacology at the University of Bristol and member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said any new data on the risks of psychosis associated with skunk would be interesting but it was difficult to pick out cause and effect.
"If it's true it would be important but there are many explanations for these kinds of findings."
Richard Colwill, spokesman for the mental health charity SANE, said cannabis, particularly skunk, can be dangerous (not a word I would use, this is exaggeration, and thus harmful to credible education/intervention/Blair) for the significant (1% 0f 1% is not significant) minority of people vulnerable to mental illness.
"We have daily evidence that it can trigger frightening psychotic episodes, relapse, and in some cases a life-long mental condition such as schizophrenia." (precautionary note: I see daily, evidence of clinicians fallacy in-particular from the Royal Society of vested interest in all this mayhem, but I see little truth that cannabis is neither pharmacologically addictive or in comparison to a raft 'contraindications' of pharmacology dolled out by practicing psychologists. /Blair)
Cannabis is currently a class C drug but the Home Secretary has recommended it should be reclassified to a Class B drug because skunk now dominates the UK's cannabis market. (the reason here is illogical, and contrary to the 'health' interests of all UK citizens. The Home Secret'ary's political agenda is more dangerous than any cannabis!)
If approved by [UK] Parliament, reclassification would take effect from early 2009.
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Published: 2008/07/02 14:11:11 GMT © BBC MMVIII