A new study links cannabis use with psychosis.
Cannabis users that started using the illicit drug at 15 years or younger were twice as likely to develop psychosis.
The longer duration from first use of cannabis is associated with multiple psychosis related incidents.
The study looked at 3801 people with an average age of 20 years.
Delusions, hallucinations and schizophrenia are amongst the mental health impacts of cannabis use.
(Source: Archives of General Psychiatry, 1 March 2010).
This is the latest in a number of scientific studies that link cannabis use to mental health problems.
As cannabis is the most widely used drug in Australia and surveys are showing that first use is getting earlier in childhood, this study is concerning for users, their families and health authorities.
The mental health problems showing in young people proves that it is now time to have early intervention programs to get users out of cannabis use quickly.
Known cannabis users and those with mental health problems should be the target for early intervention.
Cannabis use is associated with many other health problems so the benefit to the users and health authorities is larger than mental health.
Now is an excellent time to introduce an intensive drug demand reduction campaign with a diversion of identified cannabis users into rehabilitation to get them free of cannabis use.