According to a study published Monday in the Lancet Psychiatry, compared with people who use lower potency products (typically 5 to 10 milligrams per gram of THC), those who use higher potency cannabis are more likely to develop addiction and mental health problems. .
Scientists have set the “standard unit of THC” at 5 milligrams of THC for research purposes. This amount is said to cause mild intoxication in occasional users.
“One of the highest quality studies included in our publication found that high-potency versus low-potency cannabis use was associated with a fourfold higher risk of addiction,” said study co-author Tom Freeman, senior lecturer in the department. PhD in Psychology and Head of the Addictions and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath in the UK, in an email.
The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction found that the number of people seeking treatment for cannabis addiction has increased by 76% over the past decade, “while the effectiveness of cannabis has continued to rise over the past decade. last decade. the same period,” Freeman said.
In addition, “a United Nations report showed that over the past two decades, the proportion of people seeking treatment for cannabis addiction has increased in all regions of the world except Africa,” he said.
According to a 2020 study by Freeman and his team at the University of Bath, in one gram of herbal cannabis, the dried and harvested tops of habitually smoked female marijuana plants, the concentration of THC increased by about 2.9 milligrams each year.
In cannabis resin, the sticky brown sap of the plant from which extracts and potencies are made, THC levels increased by about 5.7 milligrams each year from 1975 to 2017, according to a study. Concentrated foods can reach extremely high levels of THC.
Experts fear that this yearly increase in potency may not be clear to consumers. While looking at a product label can tell a person the “exact potency” of THC in a store where marijuana is sold legally, “people who buy cannabis illegally may not have access to reliable information about the potency of the product they are buying.” . help,” says Freeman.
“However, some types of cannabis tend to be more effective than others – cannabis extracts tend to be more effective than cannabis flowers,” he added.
While people try to regulate their consumption as their cannabis strength changes, “for example, putting less cannabis into the joint or inhaling less deeply,” these efforts are not working to their full potential, Freeman said. This means that “more potent products always deliver a larger dose of THC to consumers than less potent products,” he said.
Mental health affected
As marijuana became more potent, the number of cases of marijuana-related psychosis increased, according to the review. According to Freeman, psychosis is “losing touch with reality,” which can be described as hearing voices and delirium.
“The evidence linking the power of cannabis to addiction and psychosis was very clear,” he said.
According to a 2020 study, users of highly potent weeds are significantly more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder than those who smoke weaker varieties of marijuana.
However, a new review of studies found a “more diverse” link between increased marijuana effects and depression and anxiety, “meaning the impact on these other mental health outcomes is unclear,” Freeman said.