Studies that have tied cannabis use to schizophrenia in the developing brain are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marijuana. Are different strains and synthetic cannabinoids especially dangerous? Are we doing enough to educate young people on the risks? Does marijuana use lower IQ? Where is the line between medical marijuana and recreational use? Our author, a noted British psychiatrist, offers a European perspective on these issues.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, European psychiatrists like me started seeing an increasing number of previously well-functioning teenagers who had developed hallucinations and delusions: the characteristic picture of schizophrenia. These troubled patients puzzled us because most had been bright and sociable and had no ties to the usual risk factors such as a family history of the disorder or developmental insult to the brain. Family and friends would often say, “Maybe it was all the cannabis they have been smoking,” and we would confidently reassure them that they were mistaken and tell them that cannabis was known to be a safe drug.
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