Study links psychosis with use of cannabis

Orla Dwyer

Image Credit: Alison Clair

The results of a study linking potent forms of cannabis to an increased chance of developing psychosis is unsurprising, according to DCU SSDP and an addiction counsellor.

The study found that taking any form of cannabis daily tripled the chances of developing psychosis. Using highly potent cannabis that contained high levels of THC, the main psychoactive part of cannabis, increased the risk five-fold.

Chairperson of the DCU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Declan Moore said the society was not surprised by the outcome of the study.

“We don’t think it will impact the progress of the legislation for cannabis regulation and decriminalisation both for medicinal and recreational use in Ireland,” said Moore.

“People who engage in use of cannabis for either medicinal or recreational use should be provided with the supports and services they need and be educated on the risks of their use,” he continued.

The study was carried out by scientists in England, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Brazil. The link with psychosis was found to be highest in London and Amsterdam, likely due to the common availability of high-potency cannabis.

The lead researcher of the study from London Dr Marta Di Forti said the findings were consistent with previous studies showing that cannabis with high THC content can have harmful effects on mental health.

Psychosis is a mental disorder where thoughts and emotions are impaired causing lost contact with reality. Addiction counsellor Marie Byrne said she has seen a lot of similar studies and has witnessed firsthand the link between potent cannabis and mental health issues.

“The effects of the drug have damaged the view of cannabis more than these studies… A lot of people underestimate the effects of cannabis,” said Byrne.

“If you’re talking about reducing harm of any drugs, we can’t say that there is a safe way of using it.

“For young people trying to get off cannabis, they find it difficult to find a social place to go where there are no drugs.”

Researchers examined the drug use of 901 patients experiencing their first psychotic episode between 2010 and 2015 along with over 1,200 healthy individuals.

The study found that in London, cannabis with a 14 per cent THC content makes up 94 per cent of the drug sold on the street. In France and Spain, cannabis with THC of less than 10 per cent was still commonly used.

Orla Dwyer 

Image Credit: Alison Clair