Cannabis blamed for rise in mental cases

The number of children aged 15 or under being treated for mental illness increased rapidly after laws on cannabis were relaxed, new official figures suggest.

Information obtained by an MP shows that the NHS spent £2.72million on anti-psychotic drugs for under 16s last year. That is a two-thirds increase on the 2004 figure of £1.7million.

The cost of the anti-psychotic drug has not changed much over that period, meaning most of the extra money was spent treating substantially more young patients.

This is the latest evidence adding to a mountain of research on the damage caused by cannabis to mental health.

A study lasting 27 years involving 50,000 people showed that smoking cannabis trebles the risk of a young person developing schizophrenia.

Cannabis-related admissions to mental hospitals have risen by 85% since Labour came to power according to Government figures.

There are now more than 22,000 people a year, almost half under the age of 18, being treated for cannabis addiction. In 1997 the number was 1,600.

Last month the Government announced it will reverse its disastrous 2004 decision to weaken the law on cannabis. The drug will once again be a Class B substance.

The MP who obtained the latest information, James Brokenshire, said: “These are shocking figures and they suggest an increase in the prevalence of psychosis in the young.

He added: “The Government’s mixed messages on cannabis have caused real harm and we won’t know the full extent of the damage for years to come.”

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