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.

Potency

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).

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