A 16-year-old boy who brutally killed his mother was suffering from a mental illness triggered by cannabis use, the Old Bailey has heard.
The boy, whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons, is reported to have experienced a psychotic episode on the night of her murder.
He started smoking the illegal drug when he was just 13 and had been experiencing hallucinations, believing that he could hear magical spirits, according to The Times.
The article also highlighted the results of a crime survey published in July which found that cannabis is the most commonly used drug in England and Wales.
It drew attention to a substantial change in Britain’s cannabis market over recent years, with homegrown cannabis tending to have a stronger psychoactive element.
The risks of cannabis, including dependency and mental health issues, have been highlighted by health experts.
The teenager told the court that on the night of his mother’s death he was “following voices” that told him to attack her.
Four weeks prior to the incident the teenager had been assessed by mental health services.
They noted that he was hearing voices in his head and that he was a “chronic” heavy cannabis user, but did not prescribe him any treatment.
A neighbour who witnessed the attack in east London said: “He scared the life out of me. He just looked right through me, like a mad man.”
The boy, who was 15 at the time, arrived at a police station in a “dream-like state” the court heard.
He told police officers that he wanted to speak to his solicitor about “black magic” and asked for a “jinn”, a spirit.
Forensic psychiatrist Philip Joseph said the teenager’s symptoms were “consistent with a diagnosis of a paranoid psychosis, in which it is likely cannabis ingestion has played some part.”
Joseph added that in this case, “cannabis has triggered the onset of an underlying mental illness, which may be paranoid schizophrenia”.
The boy is charged with murder but has not yet entered a plea so the trial continues.
Last month the Global Commission on Drug Policy called for countries to “Stop criminalizing people for drug use and possession”.
In response, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said, “we disagree that legalization of drugs will make people healthier and communities safer”.