Cannabis: a drug more dangerous than heroin.

Discussion in 'Cannabis & Health' started by Sky Walker, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Sky Walker

    Sky Walker Gold Member

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    Cannabis: a drug more dangerous than heroin


    Melanie Reid

    October 19 2006

    The dangers of cannabis use by young people have been evident for several years. Growing numbers of teenagers are encountering mental health problems and their distressed families, searching for answers, are discovering an unwelcome truth: that everywhere circumstantial links exist between heavy cannabis use and various forms of psychosis. Most painfully of all, these families are realising that there is no way back; that the damage is done.

    This is the common pattern. A bright child with no obvious psychological problems reaches his mid-teens (it tends to be boys rather than girls) when suddenly his school work starts to deteriorate. He seems to have trouble thinking clearly; he starts to miss lessons and becomes isolated from friends. He complains that people are talking about him behind this back.

    The teenager may get to university, but then starts to suffer depression and psychosis. At some point, the parents learn their child has been a heavy cannabis user for years. He may drop out, and find it difficult to get a job. In severe cases, he will become overwhelmed with paranoid fears. The workers at the National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now called Rethink) hear this heartbreaking story again and again from parents.

    No-one can say for sure there are causal links between heavy cannabis use on developing brains and psychiatric disorder. The fact that X follows Y does not prove that X was the cause of Y. But for many professionals in the field - such as Neil McKeganey, professor of drug misuse research at Glasgow University, who says he is now contacted frequently about people in their late teens running into difficulty in this way - there is a conviction that smoking cannabis may, indeed, be desperately harmful for predisposed youngsters.

    We are deficient in knowledge about the most common street drug (after alcohol). Concerned academics find it deeply disconcerting how little research there is on cannabis. They point to the fact that the government is preoccupied with heroin and cocaine, and as a result has devoted little money to a drug that has traditionally been regarded as a low-level problem.

    You do not have to look far to see why. The fact that in 2004 the government downgraded cannabis, moving it from a class B to class C drug, means ministers are most unlikely to commission research that would be likely to have a deeply embarrassing result, ie that the reclassification was foolish. Nobody willingly likes egg on their face; even ewer want to pay for it.

    What evidence exists is hard to ignore. In 1997, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported the adverse effects of the drug, especially for adolescents. These included: developmental problems, permanent cognitive impairment, psychosis, chronic apathy (usually permanent) and an impact on the frontal lobe function of the brain which can trigger schizophrenia and manic depression.

    A Swedish study in the 1980s found heavy users of cannabis at the age of 18 were six times more likely to develop schizophrenia in later life. Two recent studies in Holland have found that the incidence of psychosis in cannabis users was almost three times higher. Depression was also three times more common in cannabis users. In areas of south London, the incidence of schizophrenia has doubled in 30 years. Robin Murray, professor of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, and a consultant at the Maudsley Hospital, is one of the few UK experts studying cannabis. For years, he has been warning about the harm the drug can cause, pointing out that cannabis is the common reason for relapses in psychiatric patients. The same relapse was evident at Yale medical school when volunteers were given THC, the major active ingredient of cannabis, by injection.

    Professor Murray said recently: "Five years ago, 95% of psychiatrists would have said cannabis does not cause psychosis. Now I would say that 95% say it does. It is a quiet epidemic."

    His was among research gathered for the Conservative Party's social justice policy review this week. The report cited Professor Peter Jones of Cambridge University, who found that eight out of 10 cases of initial psychiatric disorders occurred in those who were heavy users of cannabis. He said: "I work in a first-contact schizophrenia service and it might as well be a cannabis dependency unit." He estimates that children who start smoking cannabis at 10 or 11 treble their risk of developing schizophrenia.

    Mary Brett, the researcher who prepared the report for the Tories, has criticised the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (who reviewed the evidence in 2002 and advised the government to downgrade cannabis) because not one single expert on cannabis, psychosis or schizophrenia was a member.

    The issue, it's clear, will be there to battle over at the next General Election. It's a gloomy prospect. I can think of nothing worse, or more unhelpful, than an unctuous fight on old right/left lines over cannabis. We'll regress to a polarity between the liberal baby-boomers who smoked grass 30 years ago, with their nostalgic posturing, versus the traditional hang-'em-and-flog-'em brigade. It is crazy, for what was an argument about social freedoms is now a medical argument about the risk of permanent brain damage. But lost in the wilderness will be common sense, and damaged families will be left to spin in the wind.

    You don't need to be a reactionary to be deeply worried about cannabis . You just need to be a parent of a teenager, or know a young person, as I do, whose life is now blighted by mental ill health, most probably as a result of excessive cannabis use. We need to remove this debate from the political arena and put it into the hands of the scientists. Times have changed. We are talking about a different drug, one which under the umbrella name of skunk is massively more powerful than the grass of 30 years ago, which was equivalent to two pints of beer. Nowadays the relatively mild form of the drug is almost unobtainable. It has been overtaken by artificially produced skunk, grown hydroponically in people's houses. This form of the drug can be up to 20 times as powerful as the natural product and one joint can have the effect of more than 10 pints.
    Small wonder that thousands of young people who smoke it regularly lay themselves open to developing psychosis, or that experts, given its widespread use, now view cannabis as more dangerous than heroin.

    In their submission to the House of Commons select committee on science and technology in July 2006, Rethink, representing the parents, made the case that the government has not contributed to the evidence base on cannabis, and has failed to reflect the evidence that already exists. Damningly, the organisation said that to its knowledge, the government has never attempted to communicate the mental health risks of cannabis to the wider public and to school-age children.

    More than 25 years ago, in a report on cannabis, the World Health Organisation said: "To provide rigid proof of causality in such investigations is logically and theoretically impossible, and to demand it is unreasonable." Surely we have more evidence now about this quiet epidemic than was ever thought possible, and it is time to warn teenagers of the dangers they face.

    Source: http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/72474.shtml
     
  2. SPWIM

    SPWIM Newbie

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    So one country shows a sixfold increase in schizophrenia - what about every other country in the world? Cannabis is an easy target. When most people start using, they are teenagers and are going through lots of hormonal and personality changes anyway. As for the schizophrenia thing, their statistics only imply that some people with schizophrenia have smoked cannabis, or at the very most support than it can exaggerate a person's existing mental health tendencies, not that cannabis causes schizophrenia.
     
    1. 5/5,
      good post and damn you need some good rep
      Oct 19, 2006
  3. Lehendakari

    Lehendakari Gold Member

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    Swim loves weed and smokes everyday. He thinks weed actually helped him a lot, but I think weed CAN be very dangerous when used at young ages.

    He started smoking when he was 16 maybe, but he never consumed great amounts till he was old enough.

    As other You said, when you are a teenager you develop important changes all over your body and I think weed CAN definitely affect those changes and it's impossible to know how.

    Also I think it is clear that weed CAN trigger mental diseases in certain people. You just have to check people suffering from derealization/depersonalization. Many of them had the first attack whe they FIRST smoked weed.

    As I said Swim loves weed and wants it legal, but let's face it, it is dangerous to some degree and I'll try very hard to keep my kids away from it.
     
  4. INodHardOhYeah

    INodHardOhYeah Gold Member

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    It is true that cannabis is responsible for the "early onset" of psychotic illnesses such as, schizofrenia, schizoaffective disorder, etc. But that does not in any way, shape, or form mean that cannabis causes these conditions. But still, SWIM most likely would have had a few years of "sanity" before the schizoaffective disorder set in, possibly up to 7, (I was diagnosed 2 years ago). If SWIM only smokes every 2 months or so he doesn't have any problems, but if he goes back to daily smoking things get a little weird. The first warning sign is stuttering, then, I get a little strange.... also, if I go awhile without sleeping the same thing can happen.
     
  5. Paracelsus

    Paracelsus Platinum Member & Advisor

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    The way I think, if X follows Y, Y could be a cause of X, not X a cause of Y.
    Either my mind doesn't work anymore or the one who wrote this has serious mental problems. I tend to agree with the second part.
     
  6. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Gold Member

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    Fuck, that article is truly laughable. The first half is like an old wive's anecdote and I love the use of sweeping generalisations and extremely loose statistics based on pretty much anything. Now Swedish studies from, wait for it, THE NINETEEN FRICKIN' 80's! are what's considered cutting edge marijuana studies to this writer. Wow! I'm impressed.

    Glancing through it again, do I see the words "permanent brain damage" or is SWIM's vision melting due to the cannabis he smoked last night? Perhaps the article could have maintained some credibility amongst the mislead before that little phrase was spurted out. Time and time again we hear of all these "mysterious links" between cannabis and any sort of mental disorder from schizophrenia to autism but have we ever seen any concrete evidence? When a pro-pot individual sees an article like "Cannabis may decrease the risk of Alzheimer's" we smile but take this with a little pinch of salt. It's unfortunate that people on the other side of the spectrum take these little theoretical snippets so seriously when it has anything to do with the negative aspects of smoking the old doobie.

    There's one thing I'll agree with though, this has to be taken from the politicians to the scientists. I'm quite confident that an objective, well-researched study of this type would make a very strong pro-cannabis case. Numerous studies have shown this in the past.

    One joint of skunk is the equivalent of ten pints of beer? Oh sweet salmon, this is comical. What a downright stupid, for use of a better word, conclusion.
     
  7. thundercles

    thundercles Titanium Member

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    signs of my schizoaffective disorder started to show shortly before I started using cannabis, and using it helped me cope with the symptoms quite a bit.
     
  8. Bikelbees

    Bikelbees Silver Member

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    Hey check this out - score "You are Stoned!" at this fun for all the family game. I didn't run at all from the pushers as invited to and was then forceably given multiple blowbacks in between colliding into more McBurgers, this not due to being wasted on weed but due to his total lack of preparation in operating the keyboard operations required to avoid the 3 types of blow at given at once (skunk ie 10 pints, reg grass another 2 pints and hash OR a double havana club). This being on top of my vision being blurred onscreen and having to read government health warnings flashed over the game whilst I was playing along. And to find such innocence castigated in terms of I'm a total waster cos I had all that gangita!!! Well its at http://www.dopedash.co.uk/game.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  9. Sklander

    Sklander Silver Member

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    Whomever wrote that load of shit must've been blasted out of their mind on some kller dank... I couldn't help but chuckle while reading it.

    Did they just forget the enormous numbers of people who develop lung, lip, and throat cancer from the use of Tobacco? What about Cirrhosis from Alcohol? What about all the drunk driving accidents and alcohol related deaths from alcohol?

    Do they really want us to believe that marijuana is dangerous?

    What a joke...
     
  10. Trebor

    Trebor Palladium Member

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    Swim began using at 15, at the time he had just completeted a state exam, he recieved very bad grades. He then began smoking cannabis, in vthe last exams he did, he recieved marks that were shall we say, impressive. Becuase of this I cannot believe the idea that cannabis makes you stupid. I can't.
     
  11. stoneinfocus

    stoneinfocus Silver Member

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    I don´t think heroin is a dangerous drug, despite of the risk of overdose, so if cannabis is slightly more dangerous than heroin, so be it, it´s still a lot saver/healthier, than diesel smoke exhaustion/pollution, hate, war and alcohol.
     
  12. allyourbase

    allyourbase Palladium Member

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    it would have to make you stupid to believe this utter shit.
     
  13. bewilderment

    bewilderment Drug Geek Extraordinaire Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Prescription psychiatric medication can also cause psychosis and worsen mental illness, but I don't see any news articles claiming that antidepressants or other meds are worse than heroin.

    Swim experienced a few psychotic episodes before ever touching cannabis which seemed mostly to be due to sleep deprivation (which Paxil exacerbated) and the effects of different prescribed medications.

    When she first began smoking marijuana, she did have a few episodes of cannabis-induced psychosis, but the episodes only lasted a few hours until the drug wore off. She can't recall whether or not she was also on antidepressants at the time, but it's more than possible.

    The symptoms of her disorder(s) were greatly alleviated by later use of cannabis and cannabis became her antidepressant of choice since it did not cause the agitation and insomnia related to the prescription medications. Since she has been forced to quit smoking marijuana, her mood swings have been horrendous. But, she refuses to get back on prescription psychiatric medication because of the side effects and the fact that most doctors seem to have no idea what they're doing.

    Her "illness" has not worsened due to her use of cannabis, however. Her mood swings are quite awful, but she was much worse before she ever began smoking marijuana.

    Here are some statistics according to one site:

    Disorder: Risk of Substance Abuse
    Antisocial personality disorder : 15.5%
    Manic episode: 14.5%
    Schizophrenia: 10.1%
    Panic disorder: 04. 3%
    Major depressive episode : 04.1%
    Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 03.4%
    Phobias: 02.1%

    These stats are from here: http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs7/7343/index.htm

    Now, many drugs do greatly worsen mental disorders, but cannabis is one of the safest drugs out there and I do not believe that it plays a causal role. It is pretty good medication, however.

    I also think that it's safe to say that those who suffer from mental illness and self-medicate are likely to do so with a variety of drugs.

    Swim first tried cannabis when she was 16 and never touched it again until she was 18. She never smoked regularly until she was 20 years old. She hasn't experienced even one psychotic episode since she smoked regularly. In fact, she has abused a variety of hallucinogens as well as cannabis (she has used other drugs, but not to a great extent) and the last psychotic episode she recalls is before she ever even touched these drugs--this is, of course, not counting delusions encountered while under the influence.

    So, in swim's opinion, psychiatric meds pose a greater threat to mental health.

    I also agree with those who pointed out that a many changes occur during the adolescent period as it is. Many illnesses do not manifest until the teenage years or young adulthood and this just so happens to be the time period when the greatest number of people begin experimenting with drugs.

    It is also true that with some medications, the risk of cannabis-induced psychosis is heightened.

    Also, the diagnosis of "schizophrenia" is hotly debated in the psychiatric field. Some argue that it is simply a jumble of a variety of different mental disorders. I know of several people in my family who have been diagnosed as "schizophrenic" and their primary drug of abuse is marijuana. However, their major problems did not begin appearing until they began abusing so-called "harder" drugs such as meth and heroin.
     
  14. Paracelsus

    Paracelsus Platinum Member & Advisor

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    maybe that is a cause why the anti-drug propaganda says that drug addicts are antisocial hooligans, killers, gang members and use drugs only to show their revolt against society. And that is a cause why drug users are not taken serious at all, at least where i live.

    It's ridiculous that many people don't actually know that drugs can provide fun. They think all they do is make the addict loose control, make him violent, and create addiction. So they believe everything about "the reason teens use drugs is because they protest against society".

    My idea for anarchist protesters: IF YOU WANT TO SHOW YOUR REVOLT AGAINST SOCIETY, DON'T USE DRUGS. SNORT BAKING SODA, SHOOT LACTOSE, AND SHOOT LEMON JUICE UP YOUR ASS! OR BETTER, SMOKE PEANUT SHELLS AND BANANA PEEL.
     
  15. enquirewithin

    enquirewithin Gold Member

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    This article has appears to have no scientific basis whatsoever. Perhaps the author has watched "Reefer Madness" too many times. Films should be banned as they are bad for mental health.
     
  16. CrookedEye

    CrookedEye Palladium Member

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    Anyone bother to think maybe the young folks they studied may have already had some developmental problems, and that cannabis was the way they tried to self medicate?? If one uses a drug to escape, be it alcohol or cannabis (or whatever), that is not healthy... Bet it has much more to do with family life and outside inflences than any drug... Of course, that is swim's opinion...
     
  17. INodHardOhYeah

    INodHardOhYeah Gold Member

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    It actually has much more to do with imbalances of specific essential neurotransmitters, e.g. too much or too little seretonin/dopeamine etc. There is weight to these theories (those I outlined above, not theories contained within the original article) but they are still just that, theories.
     
  18. INodHardOhYeah

    INodHardOhYeah Gold Member

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    I hate to be "that guy" but this (the above quote) is actually fairly factual, the key word is predisposed. The material was presented in a biased view (as would be expected) just as opinions on this board are extremelly biased (as would be expected), but there is actually some merit to a few select portions of this article.
     
  19. MrG

    MrG Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Ok class, what is the KEY word here?

    Anyone?

    No?

    Okay, drum roll please . . . . . .


    Circumstantial


    As in, I have no evidence whatsoever that what I am saying is true so here is something I have made up and presented as fact.
     
  20. thecowman

    thecowman Newbie

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    can overdose on heroin nuff said