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My Response to The Mail Online


My Response to The Mail Online


Original Article Here

Scientists show that unless you smoke a great deal of the strongest strains of cannabis every day from the age of 15 there is NO SIGNIFICANT INCREASE in risk of psychosis or other mental disorders.

  • Researchers highlight the dangers of synthetic cannabis such as “Spice” whereas natural cannabis has anti-psychotic properties
  • A study found that only those who have a predisposition to mental illness, start at 15 or under, smoke strong strains, daily, heavily and for many years have any significant increase in risk of psychosis
  • Regulated and quality controlled cannabis carries no significant increased risk and has been seen to help with mental illness


Published 18:00 15 February 2015

The study, leaked and completely misinterpreted by the Mail on Sunday ahead of its publication to the Lancet, a journal for medically qualified and intelligent readers, so they can attempt again to reignite the Reefer Madness lies and misinformation campaign of the 1930s against cannabis.

The Mail on Sunday understood that certain strains of cannabis were responsible for up to 25% of new cases of psychotic mental illness, but have missed all the important information that, in fact, this is limited to a tiny proportion of the general population who start smoking at age 15 or younger and have a predisposition to mental illness often through a family history and/or certain genetic markers or from certain birth traumas such as hypoxia or being born prematurely.

In addition they would have to be smoking the drug as opposed to other methods of ingestion and they would also have to be taking large quantities on a daily basis over many years for the increase risk to be significant, making it potentially one of the safest psychoactive substances known to man and certainly safer than alcohol or nicotine which are both far easier to prove are linked to increased risk of mental illness.

Both Professor Robin Murray and, The Mail on Sunday, have completely misunderstood the meaning of the term “Skunk” which actually refers to one of about 100 subsets of strains that contain high THC. Experts in this field will tell you that it is actually the ratio between THC and CBD and not the strength per say that has been seen to produce this tiny increase of risk to a tiny proportion of the general population.

Whilst for the sake of clarity I will continue to use the incorrect term “Skunk” you can find much more detailed and accurate information on what “Skunk” is here

According to Crime Survey figures for England and Wales, over a million youngsters aged 16 to 24 smoke cannabis. But the vast majority of these consumers are not at risk. Experts warn, however, that whilst cannabis in its natural form appears to have few if any negative consequences, synthetic forms of cannabis which have been created recently to circumnavigate the ridiculous law is far more potent and potentially damaging to mental and physical health.

Cases of severe psychosis related directly to these synthetic forms of cannabis such as “Spice” have increased from 80 in 2009 to 12000 in 2012 and now have their own name within the Psychiatric community: Spice-o-phrenia

The researchers, led by a team at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London, conclude there is an 'urgent need to inform young people about the risks of synthetic cannabis' and reading between the lines; 'until the world realises that drug laws need to be reviewed against scientific evidence and cannabis in its natural form is legalised' 

The findings will add substance to a 2010 report by the Journal of Schizophrenia Research, which found that schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis consumption demonstrate higher levels of cognitive performance compared to non-consumers. Researchers in that study concluded, “The results of the present analysis suggest that cannabis consumption in patients with schizophrenia is associated with better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating that schizophrenia patients with a history of cannabis consumption have less severe cognitive deficits than schizophrenia patients without cannabis consumption.”

A 2011  meta-analysis published online by the journal Schizophrenia Research also affirmed that schizophrenics with a history of cannabis consumption demonstrate “superior neurocognitive performance” compared to non-consumers. Investigators at the University of Toronto, Institute of Medical Sciences reviewed eight separate studies assessing the impact of marijuana consumption on cognition, executive function, learning, and working memory in schizophrenic subjects. Researchers determined that the results of each of the performance measurements suggested “superior cognitive functioning in cannabis-consuming patients as compared to non-consuming patients.” Little wonder, perhaps, that the UK firm, GW Pharmaceuticals who produce 200 Tonnes of raw cannabis under government license and whose sole purpose is to exploit the huge potential for medicinal benefits of cannabis and hold 40 patents for other indications have patented cannabis’ anti-psychotic properties for the treatment of psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.

This report was chaired by schizophrenia expert Professor Sir Robin Murray, who also played a key part in the new study. It looked at cannabis use in two groups, each containing about 400 people, from 2005 to 2011. Those in the first group had all suffered 'first-episode psychosis'– a diagnosed first occurrence of the disorder. Oddly there is no data available regarding the recorded triggers for their psychosis, which would have been very useful in determining whether cannabis could be implicated.

The second group were volunteers who agreed to answer questions about themselves – including on cannabis use and mental health history – for a study. Some said they had suffered psychosis, others said not. They were not told the nature of the project and no evidence of the veracity of those data were recorded.

The academics found those in the first group were more likely to smoke cannabis daily – and to smoke “skunk” – than those in the second. The researchers say: 'Skunk use alone was sought by 24 per cent of adults presenting with first-episode psychosis to the psychiatric services in South London.' It is highly likely, however, that this would be in an effort to ameliorate the onset of their symptoms.

The latest research, to be published in The Lancet, concludes: 'Only those 15yrs old or under who used excessive amounts of the strongest forms of cannabis every day for a number of years and had a predisposition for mental illness were more likely to have a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.' But the research appears also showed that natural forms of cannabis with a narrower THC/CBD ratio had no significant increased risk even in such patients.

It can be concluded that other factors such as living in a city, being a migrant, having genetic markers, a family history of mental illness and/or traumas experienced at birth such as hypoxia and premature birth constitute a far more significant increase in risk. Research has found, for instance, that compared to those born at term, babies born before 32 weeks of gestation were 7.4 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, 2.9 times more likely to suffer from depression and 2.5 times more likely to experience psychosis. 

Professor Sir Robin Murray was keen to point out, however, that even this research must be treated with caution as the factor of tobacco smoking with cannabis for which we already have far clearer link to increased risk of psychosis was not taken into account.

Tobacco use before, at, and after first-episode psychosis: a systematic meta-analysis.

He added that it is not really similar, for instance, to the increased risk of lung cancer from smoking tobacco which stands at a factor of 10 to 15 times, whereas cannabis even limited to the tiny proportion of people who might be exposed to this increased risk, the impact was only 2 or 3 times more likely. “Some people are just unlucky with their genes which makes them more vulnerable across the board to developing psychosis. It looks as if, starting before 15 increases the risk which might be because the brain is still developing and all sort of changes are happening in your dopamine and cannabinoid receptors, but people who started at 18 had a minimal (insignificant) increase in risk”

“It is important to understand that this is also dose related like alcohol. Most people drink sensibly and never have any issues, which is the same with cannabis.  It’s the people who drink something like a bottle of whisky a day or it’s the people who smoke 5 or 6 joints of high potency cannabis every day that get into trouble. The increase in strength of cannabis which people talk about is merely like the difference between lager and whisky.  It is basically the same stuff but more concentrated. However  it is a little more complicated because cannabis contains not just THC but there is also another substance, CBD which seems to have an ameliorating function.”

Most of the cannabis available before prohibition which forced the cultivation and distribution into the hands of criminals with a single profit motive, had the same amount of THC and CBD but modern “Skunk” has 16-20% and almost no CBD as this produces more of the “high” that recreational consumers are looking for, however CBD seems to counteract the psychotic effect of THC. As such a market where the strain, quality, strength and THC/CBD ratio of the substance can be regulated and assured would significantly reduce if not eliminate the harms and risks.

Michael Ellis, a Tory member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, got all of this completely upside down, ignored all the actual science and ignorantly stated: 'This powerful new study illustrates that those in government and the police must be careful to send out the right message. Cannabis isn't a harmless drug: it can ruin lives.' We have asked where the Tory minister got the idea that anyone has ever said cannabis was a harmless drug but was no longer available for comment.

Professor David Nutt said that it really is time that we leave decisions on relative harms of substances in the hands of experts and scientists rather than in the hands of politicians who know nothing "They do not want a discussion on drugs for a number of reasons. One is they'd lose the argument. The second is that senior Tories have got rather spectacularly interesting drug histories."

He also added that “Studying the side-effects of recreational drugs (instead of banning them) on mental well being could help to unblock the logjam preventing much-needed psychiatric medicines from being developed

Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds


Jon Liebling (pictured) believes his mental health issues have been effectively managed using cannabis

Former IT Manager Jon Liebling, 47, from Berkshire knows first hand the amazing benefits of cannabis for the management of symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with the terrifying experience of being put onto anti-depressant drugs by his doctor. “When I was arrested which forced me to stop taking cannabis and was prescribed various medications such as Fluoxetine (Prozac) the feelings of anxiety and depression returned and I started to have suicidal thoughts which I had never experienced before. Yes the Prozac made me happy, but it made me happy with suicidal thoughts! This scared me nearly literally to death and I felt I had no choice but to stop using these dangerous prescription medications and go back to taking cannabis, which I had taken since my early 20s. Unfortunately this means that I am breaking the law again, but what am I supposed to do. My health is more of a priority than a law that prevents me from taking a medicine derived from a natural plant that actually works and has no unwanted side-effects. I am sure my wife and daughter would agree. I am now fine and happy that I have stopped using prescription medications. Cannabis is one of the main reasons that I am still alive.

Read more detail about

Me, Cannabis and the Law



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