PROPAGANDA ALERT: Skunk ‘Bigger Psychosis Risk’ Than Other Cannabis Types

People who smoke potent skunk are more at risk of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia than those who use other types of cannabis, scientists suspect.

According to new research, regular users double their risk of psychosis but heavy skunk users increase theirs seven-fold.

UK experts have a theory it is down to skunk’s composition – it contains more of the chemical that gets users stoned.

The work is published in British Journal of Psychiatry.

The findings come only weeks after the UK’s chief drugs adviser was sacked after he criticised the government’s decision to reclassify cannabis up to Class B from C.

The authors of the latest research from the Institute of Psychiatry were quick to stress that their work is merely to inform.

And they point out that drug use only accounts for the minority of cases of psychotic illnesses – somewhere between 10% and 15%. Other risk factors, such as family history of mental health problems, play a far bigger part.

But they say cannabis, and particularly stronger skunk, should be considered a potential health hazard in a similar way to alcohol.

Lifestyle choices

Just as downing a bottle of whisky a day is riskier than drinking half a glass of wine each evening with your dinner, smoking strong skunk every day poses a greater threat than smoking less potent types of cannabis every now and then, they say.

When Dr Marta Di Forti and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry screened 280 patients admitted to their hospital with psychotic symptoms for the first time, they found most – nearly 80% – were heavy skunk users.

They also questioned healthy controls of a similar age and social background, who they recruited through newspaper ads and the internet, about their personal drug use.

They found no real difference between the two groups in whether they had ever used cannabis or their age at first use.

But the patients with psychosis were twice as likely to have used cannabis for longer than five years, and over six times more likely to use it every day.

Moreover, among those who had used cannabis, patients with psychosis were seven times more likely to use skunk than controls.

The experts believe skunk is particularly damaging because it contains more THC.


This is the main psychoactive ingredient and has been shown to produce psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions in experiments.

Unlike skunk, hashish – cannabis resin – contains substantial quantities of another chemical called cannabidiol or CBD and research suggests this can act as an antidote to the THC, counteracting its psychotic side effects.

Dr Di Forte said their findings were concerning, particularly as skunk has come to dominate the UK cannabis market in recent years.

“Public education about the risks of heavy use of high-potency cannabis is vital.”

She said more far work was needed to assess the exact risks of smoking different types and quantities of cannabis.

Experts do know that the risks go up with both duration and amount of use.

Zero tolerance

A spokesman from The Legalise Cannabis Alliance UK said: “We don’t need to worry about the health harms of people smoking cannabis per se, whether it is skunk or not.

“What is a concern is that as a result of prohibition some dealers put other stuff into the cannabis they sell that may be damaging. I’ve heard of lead and glass being put in it.”

Chris Hudson, addictions expert at the charity Frank, said: “You never truly know what you’re getting and stronger cannabis, such as skunk, can increase the chance of suffering a nasty reaction.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The reclassification of cannabis as a Class B drug was partly in response to emerging concerns about the growing use of stronger strains of cannabis, such as skunk, and the harm they may cause to users’ mental health.

“We remain determined to crack down on all illegal substances and minimise their harm to health and society as a whole.”

Marjorie Wallace of the mental health charity SANE said: “We receives daily evidence that the long-term use of skunk, with its specific chemical make-up, can trigger frightening psychotic episodes, cause relapse and may bring about mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

“It can also rob developing young minds of their potential and wreck their futures and those of their families.”

– Article from BBC News.

BBC News Says Hash is Safer Than Marijuana

by Scott Morgan, Stop the Drug War (DRCNet)

Having apparently missed the memo that the alleged causal link between marijuana and psychosis is demonstrably false, BBC News is still spreading mindless hysteria and confusion about it. In an article overflowing with dubious claims, this one in particular caught my eye:

The experts believe skunk is particularly damaging because it contains more THC.

Unlike skunk, hashish – cannabis resin – contains substantial quantities of another chemical called cannabidiol or CBD and research suggests this can act as an antidote to the THC, counteracting its psychotic side effects.

And where did all that delicious, brain-nurturing CBD come from? It came from the cannabis plant, i.e. the exact thing you’re claiming is so dangerous. The statement above, though not entirely untrue, highlights the fundamental ignorance about the cannabis plant that underlies this whole crazy obsession with “skunk” that has gripped the British press for years now. So let me break this down for you:

1. Skunk is just one variety of cannabis and hardly comprises the bulk of the market for good marijuana. It’s an old strain that’s been hybridized a million times over with other strains to the point that one rarely knows if they’re smoking Skunk or not. Many strains contain some amount of Skunk, but there’s generally no way to tell, especially if you’re buying on the black market. In reality, the British press is just using the term “skunk” as slang for any type of high-potency marijuana. And that’s why the hash comparison is absurd…

2. The only reason hash is often high in CBD is because hash is usually made from indica strains, which produce more CBD. But most commercial cannabis is indica-dominant anyway, so the whole idea that hash contains some special ingredient that’s missing from cannabis is just pure nonsense. It all comes from the plant and it just depends what variety you’re using. Instead of calling everything “skunk” and confusing everyone, why not educate the public about which strains have the healthiest ingredients?

If you’re concerned about the safety of marijuana users, there is absolutely only one logical solution: regulate and control the product so that users know what they’re getting and researchers know what they’re studying. We could argue about this for a thousand years, or we could test it out right now and learn the truth.

– Article from Stop the Drug War (DRCNet).



  1. Laurie on

    I am not a researcher just someone who works with people with psychosis and almost all of them are regular marijuana users. In the past my clients were mixed users and non users. Something has changed in the twenty five years that I have been working. I used marijuana as a teen but clearly something is different now. Everyone who has been working a long time in the field is noticing it and we are not working in policy or government. Schizophrenia is a terrible lifelong illness. I would like you not to become ill if it can be prevented.
    The reality people have messed with mother nature and screwed it up and people are having a tough time accepting that their poor horticultural practices have resulted in making the marijuana unusable.
    Be safe.

  2. Bradson on

    What a good point you make. If this THC = high risk of mental illness hypothesis is true, then Marinol is incredibly dangerous. No mention of that in the article. Also, it’s possible that the people with the more severe problems are attracted to stronger pot because it helps them cope better. These researchers instead favor the opinion that it causes the disorder. The evidence as presented is not proof of causation.

  3. Anonymous on

    So drug use is 10 to 15% of 1% of general population. And what all is included in drug use.
    By suggesting cannabis should be considered a potential health hazard in a similar way to alcohol are they suggesting it is not yet the health hazard of alcohol or that they were mistaken before and it is not nearly the hazard it was purported to be and is being downgraded to the level of acceptability of alcohol.

  4. Anonymous on

    I am of the opinion that neurotic would be a better description of what happens with strong weed, and mostly upon

  5. Anonymous on

    Fools, the lot of ’em.

    Obviously, they know nothing of Cannabis use. This is why drug studies are so skewed. People with psychosis are likely to be lower on the socioeconomic scale. People on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale are more likely to use illegal substances. Did it ever occur to them that the unfortunate people afflicted with schizophrenia might be more inclined to smoke weed than a higher class “sane” researcher?

    Like most mental disorders, Cannabis probably helps it.

    I do not have schizophrenia, but I can see how it would help them calm down and relax any psychotic tendencies or episodes. We already give those unfortunate people Lithium, Benzodiazepines, and a host of other, far more dangerous drugs.

  6. eclecticone on

    Does Marinol have to be follwed by a joint to ameliorate the the high THC level and avoid psychosis??? I think not!


  7. Anonymous on

    If I DIDN’T smoke weed I would go crazy. Think how life would be if you could never get high again. Hard to think about isn’t it? What would happen is that you would go completely bonkers within one year.

  8. Steve Bottrell on

    “Skunk” as they call it is just good pot. Its been around since I started smoking pot in the early 80s. There may be one particular strain called skunk, but not that I am aware of. Many strains smell skunky. White Widow for instance has a great skunky smell. And its a kick ass buzz. As I get older I realize that politics is all about the money and rarely has anything to do with a benefit to society. Its all about a bunch of people sitting around making shit up to justify a paycheck. Much like these “researchers”. By putting forth bs like this, they will probably get another government grant, where as if they said pot is harmless, the government will cut them off. Ask Prof. Nutt. It truly is a fucked up world we live in.

  9. From the 70s on

    Skunk if I recall was the pot in BC before the current BC Bud back in the earlier 90s long before it was in Britain.

    It was real good except it stunk to much to grow and the industry switched to less smelling pot.

    As for hash at 4% THC, of course that’s so they can push the LIE of HIGH THC BC Bud propaganda (like our RCMP do). You have to basically ignore the fact that before we had a domestic pot growing market, almost everywhere in Canada people smoked imported hash (at least from Alberta, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal to Nova Scotia). The truth is we now smoke a lower THC product than Canadians smoked in the 70s and 80s, BC Bud.

    But that doesn’t stop the RCMP from running around trying to scare everyone and spread FEAR that our pot has extreme THC levels.

  10. Anonymous on

    Sorry lab rat, the war is still on and we are loosing it.

    (for if we haven’t lost it already !?!)

  11. Anonymous on

    in addition to that, watch youtube: Psychiatry, The industry of death.

    ( Verry shocking stuff ! Did you know? and better ask yourselves; can you handle it? )

  12. Anonymous on

    There are these kind of stoners who need to take the strongest weed available in order to silence the “voices in their heads”.

    They have to take at least something that calms them down that actually works, but frankly spoken, I know that it’s “the world gone mad”, not the other way around.

    Psychiatry is not a science and no many ppl actually know what a psychosis is.
    I myself am able to jump in and out of a psychosis in a matter of seconds and on commend, and I can tell you it is NOT an ILLNESS!

    It’s just a different acception of reality, but one that might get out of hand when not in control of it.

    In order to trigger or stop a pschycotic reaction in ones head, one must figure out wich mechanics there have to be put in place first to activate it.

    It is’nt that difficult to controll tough, just get to figure out what it is that’s causing it, and how it got there in the first place.

    It’s all about giving in to certain kind of thougts and consepts and when in controll, you just don’t allow these certain thoughts and concepts to enter your brain anymore.

    It’s as simple as that.

    No need for psychiatric medication though since It’s not an illnes one should cure, consiously or not, one always puts the mechanics in place by one self !!!

    Or in other words, it is YOU who activates and controlls the psychose, the catch here only is that during a true psychosis, by consious you don’t seem to know yourselves any more that it’s you who is doing it.

    But it’s true that any kind of weed in any kind of dose might be of help to trigger the psychosis more easy, but it’s also verry good possible to achieve a psychotic state of mind without it.
    Skunk in this aspect doesn’t have nothing to do with it.

    On the other hand in fact, some good indica might be of help to reverse the “running mind” in order to calm it down and bring it back into the kind of reality most of us do accept as the one and only (fuck but lol)

    Truth is, there are numerous states of reality inside of you, all fully capable of interacting with your surroundment that are seemingly beeing situated outside yourself.
    (most likely it’s not though, no matter how wierd the coincidence of what you are experiencing but fromout a larger understanding it might be all true, no matter the general consensus.)

    The focus should only not be put on the correlation between weed and psychosis whereas weed is beeing mentioned as the cause of psychosis.

    The person just happens to be in desperate NEED of a psychosis, since the all accepted consensus doesn’t suit him/her anylonger or became an obstruction in his/her develpment as a good/true human beeing.

    IMHO The previous BBC article plainly is reversed science only, and merely aimed at narrow minded ppl.

    Thus,the whole article is just some crappy shit that’s ment to fear monger.

    BY G.G.

  13. LabRat on

    I ran into this article yesterday at BBC and thought I was having a flash-back! Thank heavens someone else saw it too. I was getting ready to call those nice young men in their clean white coats to come and take me awaaaayyyy haha!

    They probably thought we were all too stoned to notice that they were regurgitating the same old BS they tried on us a few months ago.

    I would like to say “Nice try”, but it wasn’t. Nice or a try.

    HEY, you dumb assed prohibitionists!

    The war is over and you lost!

  14. Ganjabagger on

    Hash is made from the Trichomes, Cannabinoids, and THC from the Cannabis Indica plant which is also referred to as “Skunk”, i.e., they are one and the same with the exception that Hash is more a “Skunk Concentrate”. In my Opinion anyone using common sense will see that this story is a Government\Press backscratching session. People who do not use or have tried cannabis will view this story without question, People who have used or tried cannabis will see right through this article. This is just another example of Large Corporations (i.e., BBC) catering to Government’s will to place propaganda out to the people and the people that govern for a misguided conservitive endeavor.

  15. B on

    Why does so much of the research supporting prohibition use skewed statistics or fuzzy terminology? What exactly do they mean by “hashish” or, in their words “cannabis resin”? I saw this article from another source a day or two ago and it said the hash they were talking about was 4% THC. I’ve never heard of real hash being 4% THC. Every reputable source I’ve read says hash is 70 – 90% THC, which would make sense since hash is resin glands from the surface of the plant, the main source of THC, collected and pressed together. The only hash I’ve heard of that might be 4% THC is Moroccan soap bars, which are highly adulterated crap, although from what I’ve read they are the dominant form of hash in the UK. You can just rub the buds from your next bag through your hand and smoke what collects on your hand, you won’t get much, but it’ll be a closer approximation to hash than that crap. Also, don’t the legal THC pills have THC concentrations above 10% per dose? Aren’t the concentrations in these pills fairly similar to that of high grade cannabis? Wouldn’t that make these pills dangerous, especially since they contain none of the other chemicals in cannabis which may counteract the potential negative effects of a pure dose of THC?