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For those of you who aren't familar with the UK's newspapers, the Daily Mail is the one you can always count on for spreading fear and ill-informed stories about the dangers of drug use. Today they decided on the sensationalist front page headline "THE CANNABIS TIMEBOMB" and went on to say how anyone who smokes weed is at a great risk of becoming schizophrenic. This follows just a few days after another scientists claims that Cannabis presents almost no danger what so ever, and that it is far safer than tobacco or Alcohol.
However I looked into the daily mail's website and they have the above story (link at top of message) presented November last year. It would appear they have dug out the old story just to make sure that the general public is, once again, confused into believing the anti-drug propaganda. It makes my blood boil.
The cannabis timebomb by JENNY HOPE, Daily Mail 22nd November 2002
eenage cannabis-smokers dramatically increase their risk of suffering mental illness, doctors reveal today.
Youngsters face being struck by depression and schizophrenia in later life, according to three studies which back mounting evidence of the damaging effects of the drug.
Researchers discovered that those who started using cannabis in their teens had a fourfold higher risk of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, and the severity was linked to how long they had taken the drug.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, show that the risks to mental health of the so-called 'soft' drug are far higher than previously thought.
At least a third of UK youngsters have tried the drug, figures from the European School Survey of 15 and 16-year-olds show. Another report found that 79 per cent of children believe cannabis is 'safe'.
The research on the health effects of the drug will shock many from a previous generation who for more than 30 years have claimed it is harmless.
A study at King's College, London, led by Dr Louise Arsenault, proved for the first time that schizophrenia - characterised by delusions and hallucinations - can be triggered by using cannabis.
The research followed 759 people in New Zealand from their birth in 1972 until the age of 26 in 1998. It found that young adolescents who used cannabis, especially those who started before they were 15, had more symptoms of schizophrenia as adults than non-users.
Those who began using the drug in their early teens were four times more at risk of developing serious psychiatric condition than non-users.
One in ten who used cannabis before the age of 15 developed schizophrenia by the age of 26 compared to three per cent of those who did not.
Dr Arsenault said: 'The uniqueness of this study is that we could identify symptoms children had before they started using cannabis.
'As a result, we can say that cannabis can trigger schizophrenia rather than the drug being chosen by people predisposed to develop this illness.
'At the very least, cannabis use should be delayed until late teens. It is only in the 1990s that very young teenagers began using it, and we may find schizophrenia increasing in the next few years.
'Young people think cannabis is a cool and safe drug, but it's very dangerous.'
In the second study, experts at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia, found that teenage girls who frequently used the drug were more likely to suffer depression and anxiety than other adolescents. Daily use of cannabis was linked to a more than fivefold increase in the risk, while weekly use resulted in a doubling of risk, said the study of 1,600 students.
The third study, of more than 50,000 Swedish men, showed the use of cannabis increased the risk of schizophrenia by 30 per cent.
The findings led to calls from the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the Government to halt moves which would effectively decriminalise cannabis use. Professor Drummond, a leading psychiatrist at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, and a member of the college's substance misuse faculty, said a relaxation of the law would lead to more young people using the drug and higher rates of mental illness.
'We need a major Government campaign to tell people about the risks of using cannabis,' said Professor Drummond. 'It must also invest in treating cannabis dependence, because more people are turning up at NHS addiction clinics with this problem.
Police in South London have been running an 'experiment' in toleration of cannabis, which no longer leads to the automatic arrest of users.
'Experiments like Brixton send out the message that cannabis is a safe drug because the police think so,' said the professor. 'But research shows the dangers.'
Doctors do not understand how cannabis increases the risk of mental illness, but suspect it affects production of the brain chemical dopamine.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said, 'Research is increasingly confirming our concerns about the use of cannabis and its relation to mental illness.'