Cannabis 'affecting young minds'
BBC NEWS, 2006/12/10
Half of young people using cannabis suffer side
effects such as paranoia and blackouts, a UK survey
More than 80% of the 727 young people in their teens
and early 20s polled by YoungMinds had tried the drug
- the vast majority before they were 18.
The charity is calling for urgent research on the
effects of cannabis on the developing teenage brain.
It is releasing guidance for young people and
professionals on the effects cannabis may have on
Barbara Herts, YoungMinds chief executive, said: "Many
young people are experimenting with cannabis from a
"We are extremely concerned that there is still very
little known about the effects of cannabis on the
developing teenage brain and it is crucial that more
studies are carried out in this area."
She said virtually all of the research on both short
and longer-term cognitive effects has been conducted
This is a problem as the young, developing brain could
be much more vulnerable to its effects, she explained.
Ms Herts said studies show young people who use
cannabis regularly or heavily are at least twice as
likely to develop a psychotic mental disorder by young
adulthood than those who do not smoke.
Psychosis is a type of mental health problem, which
includes conditions like schizophrenia, that can
seriously affect the way you think, feel and behave.
She said: "Young people, their parents and the
professionals working with them need to understand the
issues surrounding cannabis use and the potential
dangers to their mental health and wellbeing."
Drug helpline Frank recently launched a TV ad warning
young people of the damage cannabis can do to the
brain as part of its drugs awareness campaign.
A spokesman said they were particularly targeting 11-
Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said:
"Although cannabis use has been falling among young
people over recent years, and is now at its lowest
level for nearly a decade, we cannot be complacent.
"There is evidence that cannabis not only worsens
existing mental health problems but may trigger -
although the risk is thought to be small - some
conditions such as schizophrenia.
"We support calls for more research into the possible
long-term effects particularly of drug use among
children and young people."