Accessibility statement

Call for new public health message about high potency cannabis

Posted on 18 April 2016

Department of Health Sciences' Lecturer in Mental Health Ian Hamilton has joined other researchers to call for a new public health campaign about the dangers of higher potency cannabis.

Researchers from Kings College, The University of Bristol and The University of York are all concerned about the risks to users, particularly younger ones, of cannabis which has increased in potency over recent years due to increasing tetrahydracannibinol (THC) levels. Higher THC and lower cannabidiols (CBDs) are associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis. 

"The combined risks to mental and physical health justify a public health campaign that should aim to reduce the potential for harm for high risk groups who use cannabis," said Ian. "This would require a radical change in the current public health approach to drugs which promotes abstinence rather than trying to minimise harm."

Some 75% of cannabis users combine tobacco with cannabis when they smoke a joint, this can significantly increase the risk of developing tobacco dependency and developing respiratory related problems.

A podcast via The Guardian outlining the research to date and the rationale for a public health campaign featuring Professor Sir Robin Murray, Dr Suzi Gage and Ian Hamilton can be accessed here:

Guardian article: Cannabis: scientists call for action amid mental health concerns

Guardian editorial: The Guardian view on cannabis and psychosis: how do we protect teenagers?