Daily cannabis and skunk users run higher psychosis risk

Man smoking marijuana

After surveying the patients about their use of cannabis and other drugs, researchers found daily marijuana use was more common among patients with a first episode of psychosis compared with the healthy, control group.

Cannabis is defined as being strong when it has a THC level of more than 10 per cent.

Adults' recreational use of pot is now legal in Canada.

But NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said it would be "premature at best, and sensational at worst" to conclude a causal relationship exists between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders.

It's "increasingly evident that [marijuana use is] a risk factor" for psychosis, Roane told Live Science.

For the new study, researchers collected data on about 900 patients diagnosed with their first episode of psychosis at 11 hospitals in Europe between May 2010 and April 2015. What's more, those who reported using high-potency marijuana on a daily basis were five times more likely to have a diagnosis of first-episode psychosis, compared with those who never used it.

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"The next priority is to identify which individuals are at risk from daily potent cannabis use", she wrote. Now research suggests the potency of the cannabis is also important, with patterns in cannabis use linked to how often new cases of psychotic disorders arise in different cities.

"As the legal status of cannabis changes in many countries and states, and as we consider the medicinal properties of some types of cannabis, it is of vital public health importance that we also consider the potential adverse effects that are associated with daily cannabis use, especially high-potency varieties", lead study author Dr. Marta Di Forti, of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Neuroscience at King's College London, said in a statement. Incidences of psychosis were higher in Amsterdam than most other locations studied, with only south London surpassing it.

This would mean that if high potency cannabis were no longer available, the incidence of psychosis in Amsterdam, for example, would be expected to drop to 18.8 from 37.9 per 100,000 people a year, and in London to 31.9 from 45.7 per 100,000 people a year. "Cannabis for them could be an extra risk factor, but it definitely doesn't have to be involved". "Fifteen years ago, nobody thought that cannabis thought increased the risk of psychosis", he said.

Almost 30 per cent of patients who had experienced a first episode of psychosis were daily cannabis users, compared with less than seven percent of those in the control group.

However, the registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Adrian James, said the findings were to be "taken seriously", and that his institution "is reviewing the mental health effect of cannabis use".

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