How extended cannabis use can eventually lead to poor mental
health. But how many young people realise this?
Last year I hit the big 40 and it dawned on me that I’d smoked
cannabis for more than half my life. In 1980 I only rarely came
across marijuana exotica such as sensemillia and durban poison. The
pleasure in these weeds was their potency and at the time they were
expensive and rare.
At age 16 I smoked about 3.5 grams of weed a week. All through my
twenties and early thirties I only got through seven grams a week.
But in my mid-thirties, when faced with unemployment because of
poor physical health, my use and state of mind became a serious
In 2001 I sought help and admitted myself to hospital for 28 days.
I had been smoking 28 grams a week for the past six months. And
here comes the but: I didn’t use cannabis with a high level of
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in dope,
during my formative years. Nowadays the norm for most youngsters is
3.5 to 7 grams a week of weed containing 15 per cent THC.
It seems everywhere I go there are young people smoking joints
oblivious to the illegality, and more importantly, the potential
harm dope may one day inflict upon them.
Today more young people are using dope, and some say as many as
half of all under 24 year olds have tried it. Today the dope of
choice is skunk weed and its average THC level is more than 15 per
cent. Some mental health professionals I’ve spoken to say they’ve
seen an increase in the number of their clients suffering psychosis
symptoms who have a history of regular cannabis use.
It is about time young people are as informed about cannabis usage
as they are about alcohol and tobacco. I welcome the call by
Rethink and other mental health organisations for an official study
of possible links between cannabis use and poor mental health.
People should be educated to allow them to make informed decisions
about the frequency and quantity of any dope they use.
At the same time data should be gathered to allow a coherent and
rational debate and the formulation of a national drugs
After almost four years of recovery I am officially an ex-mental
health service user. Life through my newly clear eyes is sweet.
Without the care and support of my community mental health team I
doubt I’d have been able to say this. Knowing I could pick up the
phone to speak to someone who knew me, understood me and was never
judgmental gave me the strength to believe in myself.
I’m hoping to get into some form of social care work. I’ve started
a part-time mentoring course while I get on with the business of
bringing in some money and giving my life more meaning.
Martyn Abbas-Jones (a pseudonym) has used mental health
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