PUBLISHED: 14 February 2019
Smoking cannabis in your teenage years raises the risk of depression and suicide in later life, a landmark new study has found.
Researchers from the US and UK have revealed the drug could impair a child's brain to the extent it triggers mental health disorders later in life.
In the largest research of its kind, experts from Oxford University and McGill University estimated that over half a million adults in the UK and US could be saved from mental health disorders by avoiding the drug as a teenager.
The teams have now warned that cannabis, legal in several US states and used by millions of young people is a significant public health risk with 'devastating consequences'. They have urgently called for officials to make tackling use of the drug a priority.
'It's a big public health and mental health problem, we think,' co-author Professor Andrea Cipriani, from the University of Oxford, said.
'The number of people who are exposed to cannabis, especially in this vulnerable age, is very high and I think this should be a priority for public health and the mental health sector.'
The researchers, at McGill University and the University of Oxford, analysed data from 11 studies involving more than 23,000 individuals.
February 2019 by Adela Talbot, University of Western Ontario
Daniel Hardy, a Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor, led a recent study that found “alarming” damage to important organs in newborns who were exposed to cannabis – and, specifically, to THC – while in utero. This damage could lead to heart disease and diabetes later in life.
Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's safe.
Exposure to cannabis – and, specifically, to THC – while in utero leads to heart defects and metabolic limitations likely to result in heart diseaseand diabetes later in life, according to a Western-led study.
"All the studies to date have tried to address how exposure to cannabis in pregnancy influences offspring have been limited to the brain and behaviour. They indicate a correlation between cannabis use and low birth weight and there's a good body of work that demonstrates moms who used cannabis in pregnancy have children who have issues with anxiety and social disorders. But no one had looked at metabolic outcomes."
Given such alarming findings and their implications for children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy, Hardy called Health Canada and offered to present a seminar on his research.
These newer studies bring into precise focus recent work in the cannabis field showing that adolescent cannabis exposure results in loss of whole dendrites including synapses (4) and a reduction in post-synaptic glutamate A2 AMPA receptors (5)… Cannabis dependence is notable for its wide spectrum of clinical presentations including psychiatric, respiratory, immune, cardiac, vascular, bony, reproductive and malignant manifestations…Tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids have prominent epigenetic footprints transmissible through human and rodent sperm for several generations (5)
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A very similar drug already exists as a trailed, tested and approved pharmaceutical; if fact has been in on the register for decades…
Sativex (nabiximols) is the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK. The drug can prescribed for the treatment for MS-related spasticity when a person has shown inadequate response to other symptomatic treatments or found their side effects intolerable. Sativex can be used in addition to a person's current anti-spasticity medication.
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