NO MORE 'LOVE' DRUG
Marijuana has long been linked with headbands and girls with kaleidoscope eyes.
It has been known as the love and peace drug, the mystical smoke which put
the paisley into the Beatles.
But latest research suggests the marijuana of the new century is a far more
potent drug. Some research even connects it to psychosis.
A Dutch study published last month made a strong link.
The study of 2400 young Germans found exposure to cannabis during
adolescence and young adulthood raised the risk of psychotic symptoms later
Psychosis is when people lose touch with reality and suffer delusions.
As many as one in 20 people experience psychosis during their lives --
whether they smoke marijuana or not.
Last year a British study found cannabis users were seven times more likely
to have mental illness.
It found the drug affects the brain severely and is a leading cause of
psychosis in Britain.
Head of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, Prof Robin Murray, last year
raised concerns that marijuana today is different from what it once was.
Prof Murray said modern strains of marijuana are up to 10-times stronger
than that consumed by previous generations. His comments were backed up
around the world.
German cannabis authority Prof Markus Leweke, of Cologne University,
reported that cannabis is at least three times stronger than it used to be.
"Cannabis today is totally different than cannabis 20 or 30 years ago,"
Prof Leweke said.
Prof Wayne Hall, from the University of Queensland, has estimated the
chance of psychosis increases from 1 in 100 to about 1 in 50 with heavy
Prof Hall also linked heavy marijuana use with poor school performance,
early drop-out and increased chance of depression and poorer mental health.
Clinical psychiatrist Peter Norrie said many decision-makers in their 40s
and 50s had memories of marijuana which was quite different to modern "dope".
"It's like comparing light beer with a bottle of whiskey," Dr Norrie said.
Hydroponics have allowed the development of far stronger marijuana,
including skunk, a hydroponically grown type of marijuana which originated
in the Netherlands. The name comes from the pungent smell and the plant is
usually in dwarf form.
Skunk is high in THC, the ingredient which is responsible for the marijuana
Cannabis growers have also experimented with other dwarf sub-species
including Mexican Big Buds (a distinctive dark red strain which has been
reported in Tasmania), Northern Lights, Early Girls, Super Skunk, Hindu
Kush and Shiva.
The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence has identified a major trend
towards hydroponic cultivation of cannabis.
Tasmania Police have reported an increase in the number of plants seized
which have been hydroponically grown.