CANNABIS SATIVA versus SKUNK the hybrid menace….
Posted by lahar9jhadav on March 20, 2007
Robin M Murray:Teenage schizophrenia is the issue, not legality.
The Government mistake was to suggest cannabis was harmless
Published: 18 March 2007 Independent.
For 150 years it has been known that acute intoxication with cann-abis can induce hallucinations and delusions. However, this was thought to be a transient effect which usually rapidly resolved itself. Then in the late 1980s and 1990s psychiatrists like me began to see growing numbers of young people with schizophrenia who were taking large amounts of cannabis.
We first thought that they were self-medicating in an attempt to ameliorate their anxiety and paranoia. However, since their families often told us that cannabis seemed to exacerbate the symptoms, we decided to examine this. When we followed up 119 young people who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, we discovered that far from being helped by cannabis, those who continued to take the drug four years later were three times more likely still to be hallucinating and deluded than non-consumers.
If cannabis could make schizophrenia worse, could it have caused the psychosis in the first place? The only way to decide is to question large numbers of healthy people about their cannabis habits and follow them up to see whether the cannabis consumers are more likely to develop psychosis. Eight studies have now reported that those who consistently take large amounts of cannabis have an increased risk of later developing schizophrenia-like psychosis.
It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of all people with schizophrenia in the UK would not have developed the illness if they had not smoked cannabis, so there are about 25,000 individuals whose lives have been ruined by cannabis.
Why are we seeing so many cases of cannabis-induced schizophrenia? A UN report in 2006 suggested three reasons.
First, the consumption of cannabis climbed steadily across Europe over the past four decades to reach a peak about 2002.
Second, high-potency cannabis preparations are more widely available. Traditional 1960s herbal cannabis contained about 2-3 per cent of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); but today’s skunk varieties may contain 15 or 20 per cent THC and new resin preparations have up to 30 per cent. Skunk is to old-fashioned hash as is whisky to lager. You can become alcoholic by just drinking lager; but you have to drink a lot more lager than whisky. Similarly, you can go psychotic if you smoke enough traditional marijuana, but you have to consume a lot more for a lot longer than with skunk.
Third, the age of starting cannabis use has been steadily lowering. It is now commonly taken at 15 and some of the patients I see started at 12 or 13 years.
Of course, most cannabis smokers never come to any harm, just as the vast majority of drinkers don’t get liver disease. It is simply that the more you take the greater the risk.
The frequency of cannabis consumption and the resultant psychosis in the UK is among the highest in Europe. I am not convinced, however, that the exact classification of cannabis is of much relevance. The Government’s mistake was rather to give the impression that cannabis was harmless and that there was no link with psychosis.
Charles Clarke, the then Home Secretary, realised the error in 2005 and promised education and research. The benefits of education about the risks can be seen in the US where cannabis consumption has fallen.
The UK education campaign was largely invisible, and there is still no significant government-funded research into cannabis-induced schizophrenia. Indeed to judge by the relative amounts of parliamentary time devoted to fox-hunting and psychosis since 1997, MPs have been much more interested in the mental health of foxes than of its young citizens.
Robin M Murray is professor of psychiatry and consultant at the Maudsley Hospital, London
Rosie Boycott: Skunk is dangerous. But I still believe in my campaign to decriminalise cannabis
Today’s skunk is far cheaper and more potent than my teenage joints
Published: 18 March 2007
I smoked my first joint in the summer of 1968. I was 17 and it was the summer of love: hot, sexy, the Rolling Stones performing for free in Hyde Park and the dope was plentiful and benign. It would come in from the Lebanon, Morocco or Afghanistan and I’d buy it in small lumps which looked and crumbled just like Oxo cubes.
Sitting on the grass in Hyde Park, armed with a packet of cigarette papers and the contents of a Benson & Hedges, I rolled my first joint. The dope made me happy. It seemed such a much better way to get high than my parents’ nightly tipple of sherry or dry martinis.
Everyone I knew in those days smoked pot and most people I know now have smoked at least once in their lives: some of them now run corporations and political parties, and there is no evidence that smoking pot ever hurt them. When I began a campaign to decriminalise cannabis at The Independent on Sunday in 1997 we were greeted with derision by the powers that be. Alastair Campbell memorably described us as a “bunch of old hippies still living in the Sixties”.
But our campaign quickly attracted the attention of police officers, prison wardens and teachers who were by no means just a bunch of old hippies. Our points were simple: cannabis does less harm than alcohol; it does not lead people to violence, and no one smokes themselves to death (as they might drink themselves to death). Cannabis, not in itself an addictive drug, does not lead people to hard drugs but the criminalisation of it means that the person who sells you pot has a vested interest in leading you towards much more harmful and potentially addictive substances. Locking up young kids because they smoked dope meant we were making criminals of people who were, I believe, no more criminal than my sherry-tippling mother.
Our campaigning worked. In time the law was changed and cannabis was reclassified, making possession barely against the law. I am glad about this because I do not believe that we can ever contain the drug trade by making outlaws of the users and by allowing criminal gangs to control the supply.
But in one respect I have changed my mind. In 1997, I was confident that cannabis was an almost harmless drug. No drug, even caffeine, can be said to be entirely without its dangers. But I was talking about the pot that comes from the sun-filled fields of the Lebanon, Morocco and Afghanistan. Today’s 30-times stronger variety – known as skunk – has been definitively linked with paranoid schizo-phrenia and psychosis, mostly among teenage boys who smoke heavily. It is now the most common form of the drug available on our streets because it can be grown so easily at home.
You can buy enhanced-strength cannabis seeds over the net. Simply type in AK-47 or Black Widow and you’ll find yourself at a site which will instantly mail you enough seeds to start a small factory.
Last summer I visited a hydroponic supply store in north London located behind a piano shop. The piano area was musty and dimly lit, but once through a small door in the back, I was in something that was part garden centre, part pharmacy and part chemical repository.
Strange bits of furniture which outwardly resembled portable wardrobes opened up to reveal a complex system of lights and plastic tubes which carry fertilisers to the plants. By alternating light levels and a judicious use of chemicals, you can go from seed to plant in just eight weeks. The outlay is negligible. A single plant produces about an ounce of skunk, which costs between £100 and £120 on the street.
The dope I used to smoke that we campaigned to have legalised is now a rarity. Why bother with all the problems of importation if you can grow it in your bedroom as easily as I grew mustard and cress on blotting paper when I was a kid at school?
Psychologist Julie Lynn-Evans, who works with teenagers who have developed paranoia and schizophrenia from smoking dope, says that she would rather her children became addicted to heroin than skunk. At least you can completely recover from a heroin problem, whereas skunk can leave lasting damage. Teenage boys, whose brains mature later than those of girls, are particularly vulnerable.
Hearing voices is a familiar symptom. While researching a TV programme on the subject last year, I met a 20-year-old patient of Julie’s and I asked him what the voices said. “Just real absolute junk… they don’t want me to do that to them and I don’t want them doing it to me but…”
He talked about them as though they were real. To him they were, holding conversations in his head which could go on for weeks, telling him he was no good, reinforcing messages of paranoia and low self-esteem.
Julie says that it is the most serious stuff on our streets today: “Once it has hit the frontal lobes of the developing adolescent, you just don’t know whether they’ll recover or not.”
But how are people to know just what they are smoking? Teenagers are always going to smoke cannabis, just as they will always indulge in under-age drinking. But on today’s chaotic streets, where cannabis doesn’t come with a product-information label, it’s like entering an off-licence and asking for a pint of alcohol without knowing whether you’re buying beer or tequila.
The real dangers of skunk do not change my mind about legalisation. Indeed, I now think full legalisation to be more important, so that there can be sensible education about the possible dangers. We can never, ever hope to give out clear, straightforward educational messages about drugs while they remain illegal. We have no chance of ever controlling how drugs are sold and who they are sold to. Illegality drives the drug trade underground, exposing users to drugs – not just cannabis – of fluctuating strength and dubious origin, randomly dangerous in their inconsistencies.
Ending all prohibition on cannabis and all other drugs is not saying “yes” to drugs. Today’s skunk is far cheaper and far more potent than what I smoked as a 20-year-old. And we are all paying an increasingly high price.
Unlike the old-fashioned cannabis of my youth, skunk makes people aggressive: they steal, break into cars and snatch phones. It makes everyone the victim but the true losers are our sons and daughters who literally, where skunk is concerned, risk losing their minds and themselves.
LEGALIZE CANNABIS SATIVA and INDICA
regulate its production and sale, expecially to those under 21
and outlaw the hybrids
PS > THC is regarded as cannabis’ main active ingredient. There are however some 40 different possible active ingredients in cannabis in addition to THC, including dronabinol, which can now be prescribed by doctors to alleviate nausea caused by chemotherapy. Until comparatively recently it was unknown how THC worked. However it is now believed that it interacts with a natural neurotransmitter called Anandamide (‘ananda’ meaning ‘bliss’ in sanskrit). Download ANANDAMIDE INFO
Has enough work been done to isolate the various compounds and their role in the mental-health problems caused by cannabis/skunk?
It is my view that the balance of ingredients in different cannabis plants/preparations is what is causing the problems.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.