Further evidence proves cannabis could lead to the onset of mental illness

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 13, 2003.

  1. April 13, 2003
    The Malta Independent Online

    Daniela Xuereb

    Smoking cannabis could lead to mental illness, a recent study by Professor John Henry, a toxicologist at the Imperial London College, has revealed.

    Prof. Henry, a leading drug expert, warned that cannabis was far more dangerous than tobacco as regards mental health. He said both cannabis and cigarettes could cause illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, but smoking cannabis could lead to a major increase in schizophrenia and depression.

    “There is a four-fold increase in schizophrenia, and a four-fold increase in major depression. That is something very, very different to what cigarettes do to you,” explained Prof. Henry.

    The news was recently circulated in Malta by sedqa, the National Agency Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Sina Bugeja, sedqa's chief executive officer told The Malta Independent on Sunday it is vital that the public are aware of the danger when smoking cannabis.

    “The use of cannabis can cause a condition called drug-induced psychosis. This usually passes after a few days,” said Mrs Bugeja. “However, if someone has a predisposition to a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, these drugs can precipitate the first episode in what could be a lifelong, disabling condition.”

    No drug is necessarily safer than another, said Mrs Bugeja. “The best example of this is tobacco. More people die from diseases caused by smoking cigarettes each year than from alcohol, drugs, murder, car accidents, AIDS, and fires combined. Those who are hooked on cocaine and heroin started on cannabis and moved on.”

    Prof. Henry's evidence was supported by research carried out by Dr Anton Grech, a neuropsychiatrist interviewed by this newspaper last year.

    Dr Grech had highlighted the link between cannabis abuse and the onset of schizophrenia. In 1998 he carried out a study at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, the Maudsley Hospital - the first mental hospital to be built - where he also lectured. His research clearly showed that cannabis could be one of the causes of schizophrenia.

    His research was based on discovering whether psychosis (one area of which is schizophrenia) can be caused or aggravated by the abuse of alcohol or drugs. Asked to list the effects of cannabis on the brain, Dr Grech said cannabis is physiologically addictive, unlike heroin which is physically addictive too.

    He said when someone smokes cannabis a substance called dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is used in the pathways of pleasure in our brain, and with schizophrenia there is an overproduction of dopamine in the brain.

    An article written by Andrew Johns from the Department of Forensic Psychiatry and Institute of Psychiatry at the De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill in London, which was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry two years ago, clearly shows how the prevalence of lifetime and regular use of cannabis has increased in most developed countries.

    Dr Johns stated that accumulative evidence highlights the risks of dependence and other adverse effects, particularly among people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders. He re-evaluated the adverse effects of cannabis in the general population and among vulnerable individuals, including those with serious psychiatric disorders. Results of his study showed that people with major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are especially vulnerable in that cannabis generally provokes relapse and aggravates existing symptoms.
  2. I am not as educated as a toxicologist is...but I disagree with his findings that marijuana exacerbates mental illness. From personal experience, I find that marijuana keeps my mind focused on the reality of today, without the interference of some mental abreaction. Just an opinion...challenges me to do some research.
  3. "drug-induced psychosis" is only brought about in patients with preexisting mental problems...This does not explain anything in regards to mentally healthy people.

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