One in eight cannabis dealers caught by the police are children, according to official Government figures.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed that 268 under 18s received cautions or convictions for offences related to dealing cannabis in 2009, the equivalent of five a week.
And more than 13,000 youngsters needed hospital treatment after using the drug during the same year, the equivalent of 36 children a day.
The figure has alarmed critics concerned about the devastating effect which the drug could take on youngsters’ health.
Charles Walker, the Conservative MP who obtained the figures, said: “Cannabis is seen as a soft drug but the stuff being smoked now is three times more potent than the stuff that was around in the 60s and 70s.
“It can fry your brain, and double a young person’s chance of psychosis and schizophrenia. We are consigning thousands of young people to a lifetime of underachievement by making it so easy for them to get hold of this drug.
“The laws surrounding cannabis were framed by people in their 40s, 50s and 60s whose own experience was of a much weaker form.”
His concerns were echoed by Marolin Watson, from the drugs charity Hope UK, who said: “It is likely that for every young person in treatment, there are many more whose cannabis use is compromising their future prospects.”
She added: “Using it is like playing Russian roulette with their mental health.’
Cannabis was downgraded from a Class B drug to a Class C drug in 2004. The move was a disaster. In the three years after the law in the UK was weakened the number of cannabis addicts receiving NHS treatment doubled.
The reclassification was also accompanied by a surge in the number of children aged 15 and under being treated for mental illness.
Faced with such overwhelming evidence, the Labour Government restored cannabis to a class B drug in January 2009.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the Christian GP who was appointed as a Government drugs adviser last month had been sacked by the Home Office because of his views on homosexuality.
Dr Hans-Christian Raabe, a respected GP who backs total abstinence from drugs, was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) by the Home Office last month.
But he was dismissed earlier this month after it emerged that he had co-authored a 2005 scientific paper which linked homosexuality with child sex abuse.