The UK Mail on Sunday PUBLISHED: 25 March 2018
Britain could set off a schizophrenia timebomb if it ignores the dangers of super-strength ‘skunk’ cannabis, one of the UK’s most eminent psychiatrists warns today.
Strong evidence now shows that smoking potent forms of the Class B drug increases the chance of psychosis, paranoid delusions and schizophrenia.
But too many people – from teenagers to top officials – have little idea of the terrible toll it can take on the mind, says Professor Sir Robin Murray.
Prof Murray, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: ‘I don’t think any serious researcher or psychiatrist would now dispute that cannabis consumption is a component cause of psychosis.’
He warned that:
- MRI scans show long-term use of skunk can shrink a vital part of the brain;
- The substance – now dominant on Britain’s streets – is four times stronger on average than cannabis smoked in the past;
- A clear majority of studies show those who regularly smoke cannabis are at ‘significant increased risk’ of developing psychosis or schizophrenia-like illness;
- Heavy users of skunk are up to four times more likely than non-users to develop psychotic symptoms.
MRI scans reveal that long-term use of skunk shrinks the hippocampus – the part of the brain essential for regulating emotions and long-term memory – by 11 per cent