Researchers from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath (UK) have systematically analyzed the relationship between the types of cannabis people use and their addiction and mental health problems. Their work draws on 20 studies involving almost 120,000 people.
After alcohol and nicotine, cannabis is the most widely used drug globally. The latest estimates from the UK suggest that over the last year, around one in five individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 had used cannabis.
The new study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, suggests that people who use high-potency cannabis are more likely to experience addiction than those using low-potency products. It also suggests that people using high-potency cannabis are more likely to experience a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia.
These findings may help to explain why more people have received treatment for cannabis problems over recent years. Data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction show a 76% increase in people entering treatment for cannabis addiction in the past decade.
Lead author Kat Petrilli, from the University of Bath's Department of Psychology, explained, "Our systematic review found that people who use higher-potency cannabis could be at increased risk of addiction as well as psychosis when compared to people who use cannabis products with lower potencies.
"These results are important in the context of harm reduction, which aims to minimize the negative consequences associated with drug use. While the safest level of use for cannabis is of course 'no use,' it is important to acknowledge that a significant number of people across the world use cannabis regularly, and to ensure they can make informed decisions that could reduce any possible harms associated with it."
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