Cannabis is four times stronger today than in the 1960s and countries legalising it are experimenting with the minds of their youth, two experienced psychiatrists have warned.
Professor Robin Murray and Marco Colizzi issued the stark caution as they said it was “now incontrovertible that heavy cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis”.
In an editorial for The British Journal of Psychiatry, they said much of the pressure for legal cannabis comes not from the public “but rather from investors keen to make a fast buck”.
Prof Murray and Colizzi explained how forms of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s contained less than four per cent of the THC psychoactive component.
Now however, in the skunk that “dominates the market”, there is an average of 16 per cent THC.
The USA and Canada have embarked on a major pharmaceutical experiment with the brains of their youth.
In the US state of Colorado, “preparations such as wax dabs containing up to 90% THC can be bought”.
The authors said it would be wise to observe what happens in parts of North America where cannabis has been legalised.
“The USA and Canada have embarked on a major pharmaceutical experiment with the brains of their youth”, they wrote, before issuing a call for more public education on the dangers of cannabis.
“It would be a shame when we are in sight of ridding the country of the scourge of tobacco use, if it were to be replaced by use of a drug that, although less harmful to the body, is more toxic to the mind”, they concluded.
Their comments were welcomed by Mary Brett, of Cannabis Skunk Sense, who said the warning was “very timely and badly needed”.
She noted that she had spoken to parents who had “seen severe mental illnesses in their offspring”.
Last year, a mother warned of the dangers of skunk, after the drug destroyed the mental health of her son.
Josie Laurent recounted how her son Henri, a budding young photographer, fell apart after smoking skunk from the age of 15.
What followed was psychosis and multiple sectioning.
“He wanted to run an advertising agency – that was his dream. There’s nothing left of his dreams now”, she said.