Advances in nutrient technology and growing techniques have allowed for marijuana growers to produce a high-potency drug, containing THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) levels in upwards of 30 percent. THC is the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, which is responsible for the euphoric feelings derived from the drug. Traditionally, marijuana contained THC levels that were much lower, which has many experts fearing that the increase may lead to mental health problems.
At the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), researchers have found that nearly a quarter of new psychosis cases can be tied to high-potency marijuana, The Independent reports. The new findings, researchers argue, is a call-to-action for the “urgent need” to educate the youth regarding the dangers of high-potency marijuana use.
“This paper suggests that we could prevent almost one quarter of cases of psychosis if no-one smoked high potency cannabis. This could save young patients a lot of suffering and the NHS a lot of money,” said study researcher Sir Robin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research at IoPPN.
In the United States, despite the fact that medical marijuana programs exist in 23 states – as well as full legalization in four states, there has been little research conducted with marijuana due to the 80 years of federal prohibition. This means that not much is known of the risks associated with the use of high-potency marijuana.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan bill was put before the senate which, if passed, would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana, The Washington Post reports. The measure, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, would reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.
The CARERS Act would allow for scientists to obtain marijuana for more medical research, which is clearly needed considering the IoPPN’s study.
The findings were published in Lancet Psychiatry.