Nz Young Among World’s highest users of cannabis-NZ Herald- Sat October 17

This was in the NZ Herald today, note cannabis is known to cause psychotic episodes.

Lancet study includes long list of health risks for the world’s 166 million cannabis smokers.

Young people in New Zealand are among the world’s biggest users of cannabis. Nearly 4 percent of adults globally use the drug, though it raises many health concerns according to a paper published in the Lancet yesterday.

It cited figures from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which estimated that in 2006 there were 166 million users of cannabis aged from 15-64 0r 3.9 percent of the world’s population  in this age category. The drug is the most used among young people in rich countries, led by New Zealand, Australia and the US, followed bu Europe, but appears to be becoming popular on a global scale, with use rising in low and middle income countries it said.

The study by Australia professors Wayne Hall and Louisa Degenhardt, is an overview of published research into cannabis use and impacts.

Hall and Degenhardt say that as a problem for public health, cannabis is “probably modest” compared with the burden from alcohol, tobacco and other illegal drugs.Even so, cannabis has a long list of suspected adverse health effects they warn.

They include the risk of dependence, car accidents,impaired breathing, damaged cardiovascular healtg, psychotic episodes and educational failure among teens who smoke the drug regularly. Around 9 percent of people who ever use cannabis become dependent on it, says the paper. By comparison, the risk of addiction for nicotine is 32 percent, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine and 15 percent for alcohol.

   “Acute adverse effects of cannabis use include anxiety and panic in naive( first time) users, and a probable increased risk of accidents if users drive while intoxicated” it says…

…Another area of concern is so-called “skunk”- extremely potent cannabis from plants selected to have higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drugs active ingredient. Level’s of THC found in seized cannabis have risen in the past two decades, says the study. ” A hugh THC content can increase anxiety, depression and psychotic symptoms if regular users do not titrate(measure out) their dose.

END

On the Lancet site they also have an article on cannabis and Psychosis B ut you have to be registered to see it.

This website – The Medical Journal of Australia– has some interesting information also on cannabis and psychosis:

Cannabis and schizophrenia
  Does cannabis cause schizophrenia? Perhaps the more worrying question is whether cannabis causes chronic psychosis, particularly schizophrenia. The work of Andreasson and others examined this question in a cohort of male Swedish conscripts, followed up through a national psychiatric case register.16 They found that having used cannabis between one and 10 times at conscription increased the relative risk of schizophrenia to 1.3, the risk rising to 6.0 for those who had used cannabis on 50 or more occasions. However, this relative risk was reduced after adjustment for factors which independently contributed to the risk of schizophrenia. While this study provides some of the strongest evidence for a link between cannabis and psychosis, methodological concerns have been raised. These include the temporal gap between self-reported cannabis use at conscription and later schizophrenia, the potential confounding role of other substance use (particularly as amphetamines were a major drug of abuse during the study period), the adequacy of psychological assessment at conscription, and the reliability of self-reported drug use at conscription.3

Nevertheless, the association between cannabis use and schizophrenia is strengthened by studies which demonstrate that cannabis is widely used among people with schizophrenia. A recent study in Newcastle examined substance use in all outpatients with schizophrenia, finding 29.9% of subjects had some use of cannabis in their lifetime, with 7.7% and 28.3% of subjects having lifetime diagnoses of cannabis abuse and dependence, respectively.17 Notably, alcohol was more commonly used than cannabis, while amphetamines were the third most commonly used substance.

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