Why Smoking "Skunk" Cannabis May Lead to Early Psychosis

A recent study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin suggests that daily use of high-potency cannabis can lead to chronic users experiencing their first psychotic episode earlier than they otherwise would. A team of researchers led by Dr. Maria Di Forti at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London surveyed 410 patients between the ages of 18 and 65, all of whom had a history of psychotic episodes. The survey examined history of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use as well as the age at which the patients first experienced a psychotic episode.

What the researchers found was that males were more likely to use cannabis overall than females and also experienced psychosis at a younger age. They also found that patients who started smoking cannabis at age 15 or younger preferred to smoke high-potency "skunk" cannabis rather than lower potency "hash" type cannabis. The earliest onset of psychotic episodes occurred in males who have been smoking high-potency cannabis on a daily basis -- on average, their first psychotic episode occurred six years earlier than for non-users.

Skunk cannabis has become increasingly popular in recent years with a THC content of 16 percent compared to the 4 per cent found in lower-potency "hash-type" cannabis. Though news reports have raised concerns about the dangers associated with skunk cannabis, including people being admitted to hospitals for mental health problems, skeptics have disputed the potential risks involved. Believed to have originated in the United States, European growers have developed a profitable business growing skunk cannabis in hothouses. Users often regard it as being safer than than regular marijuana because it is harder to fake but long-term use of skunk cannabis has been linked to adverse psychiatric effects including depression.

To read more, check out my new Huffington Post contribution


Related Stories

  • The Power of the Placebo (Part 1 of 2)
  • Is Low Birth Weight Linked to Child Aggression?
  • Studying Hypnagogic Hallucinations


The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979