Drug expert warns against cannabis 'complacency'

By on 16/02/2015 in News

A Birmingham drugs expert has warned regular users of cannabis they risk developing mental health problems – even if they are not smoking super-strong varieties.

News reports today have revealed a study by King’s College London found that smoking potent cannabis was linked to 24% of new psychosis cases.

The research by KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience suggests the risk of psychosis is three times higher for users of potent ‘skunk-like’ cannabis than for non-users.

An estimated 60,000 people in Britain are currently living with conditions involving hallucinations and paranoid episodes brought on by abuse of high-potency cannabis, known as skunk, and the KCL study suggests more than 300,000 people who have smoked skunk will experience such problems in their lifetime.

Responding to the reports, Birmingham Public Health substance misuse expert Ricky Bhandal said: “Sadly some people will see these reports and think: ‘I smoke a lot but it’s not skunk, so I’m OK’. That’s a risky assumption to make. The majority of cannabis on the street is skunk and with new strains emerging all the time it’s difficult to manage your risk.

“There’s plenty of research to show that heavy cannabis use, particularly  at a young age, can lead to mental health problems.

“Of course there are additional risks with the super-strong varieties of cannabis but it would be a mistake for anyone assuming they are smoking weaker varieties to think they’re not at risk.

“Taking any drug is a risk and whatever the substance, if anyone in the city needs support, we’re here to help.â€

The Birmingham Public Health Substance Misuse team works with partners across the city to provide treatment and services for people with drug and alcohol problems.

For information and advice about drug and alcohol treatment services in Birmingham, call free phone 0300 5555 999.

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