New research has been published which indicates an increased risk of developing psychosis in people who use skunk compared to people who use other less potent forms of cannabis.
The research was conducted by Dr Marta Di Forti from the Institute of Psychiatry and was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Regular users double their risk of psychosis but heavy skunk users increase theirs seven-fold.
SANE has been campaigning for many years about the links between cannabis and psychotic illness and evidence that the drug may not only precipitate psychotic breakdown but cause long-term mental damage.
The findings come only weeks after Professor David Nutt, the Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was asked to resign after criticising the government’s decision to reclassify cannabis from Class C to B.
Commenting on the study Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, said:
“This study adds to our understanding of the dangers of skunk cannabis. Those of us on the front line, including psychiatrists, police and families, know that this drug can be particularly dangerous for the significant minority of people vulnerable to mental illness.
“SANE receives daily evidence that the long-term use of skunk, with its specific chemical make-up, can trigger frightening psychotic episodes, cause relapse and may bring about mental conditions such as schizophrenia. It can also rob developing young minds of their potential and wreck their futures and those of their families.
“As far as drug classification is concerned, we have no wish to increase penalties against users, but we need to give out an uncompromising warning about the specific links between skunk and mental illness.”