The NHS has launched a new clinic specifically for patients suffering from psychosis as a result of cannabis use.
A growing body of research clearly points to a link between smoking Skunk – a potent form of cannabis – and mental illness.
The London clinic is running a trial with 20 patients over the course of the next twelve months.
“two-thirds of my psychosis patients had a history of cannabis use”Dr Marta Di Forti
Dr Marta Di Forti, of King’s College London, said there is “a crisis of high potency cannabis that we can simply no longer ignore” and that the clinic is responding to that crisis.
She said: “For years, desperate families have been unable to access the treatment their loved ones need and they have simply fallen through the cracks. This kind of clinic is more urgent than ever.”
Dr Di Forti decided to launch the clinic when it became “ridiculous” how many psychosis patients were also cannabis smokers.
“It got to the point where two-thirds of my psychosis patients had a history of cannabis use”, she said.
“there is no way you can legalise recreational cannabis without cannabis use going up” Dr Marta Di Forti
Professor Sir Robin Murray, the first British academic to demonstrate a link between cannabis and psychosis, is a consultant on the project.
He said: “The basic problem is we have lots of young people who have cannabis-induced psychosis. They are dependent on cannabis and they’re also psychotic, so if they go to addiction services, they get told to get lost.
“If they go to psychotic services, their psychosis gets treated but nobody pays much attention to their cannabis use.”
The recent change to allow unlicensed cannabis-based medicines in the UK has prompted pro-cannabis campaigners to call for the Class B drug to be legalised for recreational use.
Dr Di Forti cautioned against this, saying: “My concern is that there is no way you can legalise recreational cannabis without cannabis use going up, as has happened in America, and there is a potential for a lot of people to come to harm.”
In Canada and the US state of Colorado, legalisation has brought about increased use of the drug.
Canada saw the number of first-time cannabis users almost double after its legalisation in October, while in Colorado, where the drug was decriminalised in 2012, cannabis is said to be “devastating whole communities”.