insist cannabis is a significant cause of psychosis
by Angela Hussain
are insisting that cannabis is a significant cause of psychosis.
This is despite a Home Office report that only one per cent of schizophrenia
diagnoses are cannabis-related.
Royal College of Psychiatrists said there is a “wealth of
research evidence” linking cannabis to psychosis, as well
as violence and psychological impairment.
The college added it was “very concerned” about the
Home Secretary Charles Clarke's decision not to reclassify Class
C cannabis as a Class B drug.
A report last week by the Home Office's Advisory Council on the
Misuse of Drugs concluded that evidence on cannabis's mental health
links is not strong enough to justify upgrading the drug to class
"Current evidence suggests, at worst, that using cannabis increases
the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by 1%." said
However, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has disagreed
with the decision not to reclassify cannabis.
A RCP statement read: “The college is very concerned about
the Home Secretary's decision not to reclassify cannabis."
Although not specifying whether it disagreed with the advisory council's
"one per cent" figure, the RCP statement read: "Research
shows that anyone with a pre-existing mental health problem, or
who is more vulnerable to mental illness (e.g. with a family history
of schizophrenia), is at increased risk of psychosis and other mental
illnesses such as depression, if they use cannabis.
"Acute cannabis intoxification can also lead to short-term
memory loss, as well as to poor co-ordination and learning.
"The risks are particularly worrying with the young who are
more vulnerable to its damaging effects. Moreover, there is overwhelming
evidence that exposure of the unborn child to cannabis is associated
with significant cognitive impairment, and behavioural and emotional
problems in childhood and adolescence."
Clarke said his decision was influenced by the fact that cannabis
use had fallen by four per cent among 16 to 24-year-olds from 28
per cent in 1998 to 24 per cent last year.
Clarke said he is to order research into possible links with mental
illness and studies into the strength of cannabis most widely used.
A public campaign will also be launched stressing cannabis is harmful
used to be a Class B drug, and was reclassified to Class C in January
"Many people wrongly interpreted the reclassification to mean
that cannabis was not harmful and that its use was not harmful and
that its use was acceptable and even legal," said Mr Clarke.
Council On the Misuse of Drugs report on cannabis (pdf)
is safe in comparison to alcohol and tobacco
Steve Clements, self employed, York
There is a continued exageration of the problem of cannabis, while
alcohol is allowed to run rampant through our society almost unhindered.
Very few things in life are free from harm. These potential harms
are out of control when left to an illegal supply.
People who actually think that class B or C actually makes any difference
are living in cloud cuckoo land. Cannabis is - on reading the research
- remarkably safe when compared to legal substances, such as alcohol
It's time to take control of the supply of cannabis with proper
regulation, age restricted sales and quality control of strength
etc. An advertising campaign to repeat tired old messages is just
a waste of taxpayers money.
I meet people
everyday damaged by cannabis use
David Pyke, psychiatric nurse, Norwich
February 1, 2006
am replying to Mr Clements comments. I am not going to repeat "tired
old messages". I just want to say that, just because cannabis
is allegedly less harmful than alcohol or tobacco does not mean
we should close our eyes to the damage it does to many people.
is a trendy thing to say "cannabis is OK". But it is not,
even if the figure that "only" one per cent of people
is affected is correct - and I believe that it is wrong - then that
is one per cent too many.
my job I meet people every day who are damaged by cannabis use.
Apart from the psychological damage they cause themselves they are
as much danger to others as a drunken lout on a Saturday night.
Also, there has been research that indicates excessive smoking of
cannais is more likely to cause cancer than smoking cigarettes.
excessive use of drugs, whether it is cannabis, alcohol or tobacco
is irresponsible both to yourself and to society. Mr Clements dislays
a narrow point of view if he thinks otherwise.
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