Pot can cause mental illness says The Lancet
Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic, researchers report in an analysis of past research…the new review suggests that even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent.
And those who use the drug regularly could increase their risk factor by 50 to 200 per cent!The study is reportedly a “comprehensive meta-analysis to date of a possible causal relation between cannabis use and psychotic and affective illness later in life.” This new research has examined 35 studies that “tracked tens of thousands of people for periods ranging from one year to 27 years to examine the effect of marijuana on mental health…they looked for psychotic illnesses as well as cognitive disorders including delusions and hallucinations, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, neuroses and suicidal tendencies.
However the study acknowledges:
There could be something else about marijuana users, “like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses…
The findings of the study will not exactly be engraved in stone but they are still likely to shake the comfort zone of cannabis users. Most sensible people don’t want to take chances….why, more research could unravel something worse…studies on this subject are ongoing. And the research seems to be pointing in one direction – that we do not know enough about the harm of cannabis use can cause.
Is Cannabis safer than alcohol and tobacco?
Although a Lancet study as recent as a few months ago said that tobacco and alcohol (the socially accepted drugs) were “more harmful than cannabis,” I feel they might have revised this opinion now. After all, who has heard of tobacco or alcohol being related to mental illness? Yes, I have heard of those with mental illness getting addicted to alcohol, but not the other way round. If this study is corroborated by further research and a direct link established between cannabis and mental illness, then it would confirm my suspicion that cannabis is more harmful than either tobacco or alcohol.
Britain changing its policy on cannabis
Britain is taking this study seriously. It says here:
As cabinet ministers in the UK fall over themselves to tell all about their cannabis-taking younger days, Gordon Brown’s Government begins its review of the classification of cannabis, with the probable outcome of relabelling it a class B drug of misuse. Possession would then become an offence likely to lead to arrest and perhaps a jail sentence. Cannabis was downgraded to class C in 2004, which meant that the penalties for possession, production, or supply were reduced.
How legal is it round the world?
You can get information of the legality of cannabis in different parts of the world here. Most countries have some kind of laws regarding its cultivation, use, possession, or recreational use. Laws regarding possession of cannabis are very strict in Asia. It is important to note that laws are getting more restrictive in some western nations, like Denmark for instance (and Britain). Its banned in Sweden and Switzerland, even for personal use. However, in some parts of Australia its legal. In some countries (Canada) there is a movement to legalize cannabis, but I feel that this study could put a dampener on these efforts.
What about India?
Over here we do have less cause for worry as our laws have banned cultivation, possession and use of cannabis, but on the other hand there is an increasing number of urban youth falling prey to drugs, and not just cannabis. In fact of late, this phenomena called rave parties has been in the news. After a rave party was busted by the Pune police a few months ago the media attention went on for weeks after the event. Before then a lot of people had never heard of a rave. Now everyone knows that the term is associated with drugs…and not just cannabis.
Can you believe it, if you google ‘rave parties’ five out of ten results on the front page are from India!!
It’s ironic because apparently the term rave is not so respectable in the west anymore. The rave culture as it’s called started to decline in the 1990’s…in India one doesn’t know how widespread or how popular it is, but its certainly ‘cool.’ Just a few days ago police busted a rave party in Mumbai. Most rave parties are held on farmhouses of the well-heeled and are generally kept under wraps.
I also found a travel site trying to lure tourists to come to Goa for its rave parties!! Sure, there was no mention of drugs…
What is worrying is that a lot of people here seem that there is nothing wrong with raves or drugs. I am definitely not taking a moral stand here…but from the health point of view I think some serious doubts have been raised..and its better to be safe than sorry.