Most UK cannabis ‘super strength skunk’

BBC News 28 February 2018
Family First Comment: This may be a UK study but the demand for ‘stronger’ cannabis is a natural consequence of addiction to drugs – a bigger ‘hit’
“The risk of psychosis is three times higher for users of potent “skunk-like” cannabis than for non-users.”

Most cannabis being sold illegally in the UK is super-strength skunk linked to a higher risk of psychotic mental health episodes, an analysis of 995 samples seized by the police suggests.

In 2016, 94% of police seizures were high-potency marijuana, compared to 85% in 2008 and 51% in 2005.

The drug contains more of the psychoactive ingredient THC than some other types of cannabis, such as hash.

Researchers from King’s College London say users should be warned of this.

Types of cannabis
There are three main types of street cannabis – hash (hashish or resin), herbal cannabis (weed, grass or marijuana) and high-potency cannabis or skunk.

Hash is made from the resin of the plant, while herbal cannabis is made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of pollinated cannabis plants.

Skunk is made from unpollinated cannabis plants which naturally contain higher levels of THC – the substance that gives recreational users the ‘stoned’ feelings they seek from the drug, but can also cause nasty side effects, including paranoia and hallucinations.

Hash and herbal cannabis are considered to be milder than skunk. That’s because they contain higher levels of a substance called CBD (cannabidiol) which experts say works as an anti-psychotic and counteracts some of the negative effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

How risky is skunk?
It’s argued that cannabis with high levels of THC and no or very low CBD can lead to people developing psychiatric issues.

The skunk examined by the researchers from King’s College London was high potency – about 14% THC.

Previous work by the same team, based on a study of 780 people, suggests the risk of psychosis is three times higher for users of potent “skunk-like” cannabis than for non-users.

The use of hash, a milder form of the drug, was not associated with increased risk of psychosis.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, there is sufficient evidence to show that people who use cannabis, particularly at a younger age, such as around the age of 15, have a higher than average risk of developing a psychotic illness, including schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


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