Science

A new study says use of high-potency cannabis damages a key part of the brain – causing psychosis

A study published online in Psychological Medicine looked at the effects of skunk – a potent form of cannabis with stronger smell and containing higher levels of the main active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – on the brain. Various sources such as Forbes however, have pointed out this is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Which condition exists first, the psychotic symptoms or the marijuana smoking? A team at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London in the UK, found the use of skunk to correlate with damage to the– an important part of the brain responsible for communication between the left and right hemisphere. The study says the use of this potent form of pot is linked to psychotic symptoms. A previous study from King’s College linked the use of skunk to a fivefold increased risk of psychosis – a term which describes hallucinations and delusions from mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. The team looked at about 100 individuals, about half with psychotic symptoms and the other half with no symptoms of psychosis. They gathered information regarding their past use of cannabis and other recreational drugs.

Image: cannabis leaf. Courtesy of: www.morguefile.com

Those with a history of frequent use of high-potency cannabis showed signs of white matter damage in their corpus callosum – an area of the brain with greater cannabinoid receptors, which targets THC. The study states :  “Frequent use of high-potency cannabis is associated with disturbed callosal microstructural organization in individuals with and without psychosis. Since high-potency preparations are now replacing traditional herbal drugs in many European countries, raising awareness about the risks of high-potency cannabis is crucial.”