TUESDAY, July 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Cannabis has become much more potent over the years, and that may explain why the number of people becoming addicted to the drug has skyrocketed, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Bath Addiction and Mental Health Group in the UK used data from 20 studies to analyze the relationship between the types of marijuana people use and their addiction and mental health problems. The studies involved nearly 120,000 people in total.
The team carried out previous studies on the concentration of THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis – and therefore knew that it had increased significantly over time, making today’s pot much stronger.
Researchers have found that people who use high potency marijuana are more likely to develop an addiction than those who use low potency products. The study also suggests that people who use high-potency cannabis are more likely to suffer from a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia.
“These findings are important in the context of harm reduction, which aims to minimize the negative consequences associated with drug use,” said study author Kat Petrilli, from the university’s psychology department. . “While the safest level of cannabis use is of course ‘no use’, it is important to recognize that a significant number of people around the world regularly use cannabis and to ensure that they can take informed decisions likely to reduce the potential harms associated with this.”
This helps explain why more people have received treatment for cannabis problems in recent years, according to the study. Data from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction showed a 76% increase in the number of people entering treatment for cannabis addiction over the past 10 years.
Marijuana ranks third, after alcohol and nicotine, among the most widely used drugs in the world.
Public health guidelines and policies aimed at making pot use safer could inform how the drug is regulated, the authors said.
Although cannabis use is still illegal in the UK, the authors note that it is legal for recreational use in parts of the US, Canada and Uruguay. It could also become legal in other parts of the world, including Germany, the authors said.
“Our results suggest that people who use cannabis may reduce their risk of harm by using less potent products,” said lead author Dr. Tom Freeman. “In places where cannabis is sold legally, providing consumers with accurate information about product content and access to low-potency products could help people use cannabis more safely.”
The results were published on July 25 in The Lancet Psychiatry log.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has more on THC.
SOURCE: University of Bath, press release, 25 July 2022