High THC Strains Linked To Mental Health Issues

Liz Filmer
30 Jul 2022

A new study reports that excessive use of cannabis containing high levels of THC is linked to an increased risk of addiction, cannabis use disorder, and mental health problems.

The strength of cannabis has increased internationally over the years, alongside the rates of people being treated for cannabis-related disorders, say the researchers of a new study from the Addiction and Mental Health Group, University of Bath (UK).

The team systematically analysed the potential link between the types of cannabis people use and their addiction and mental health problems. The study is quite extensive, drawing on a total of 20 studies and involving around 120,000 people.

Following alcohol and nicotine, cannabis is the most widely abused drug globally. Latest estimations from the UK indicate that in the last year alone, roughly one in five 16-24-year-olds has used cannabis.

New studies from the research team at Bath have found that the THC concentration in cannabis has risen immensely over time. Unsurprisingly to most of us, the cannabis used today is typically much more potent than previously.

The new study proposes that people regularly using high potency cannabis are more likely to experience addiction than those using low potency cannabis. The study also suggests that people using high THC cannabis are more likely to encounter psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.

This information could help to explain why more people appear to have received treatment for cannabis problems in recent years. Data obtained from the "European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction" has shown a 76% increase in people starting treatment for cannabis addiction in the past ten years.

"Our systematic review found that people who use higher potency cannabis could be at increased risks of addiction and psychosis when compared to those who use cannabis products with lower potency.- Kat Petrilli, lead author of the study, University of Bath's Department of Psychology 

Strategies to make cannabis use safer could advise how the drug is regulated in the UK and beyond. Revenue could be invested into education and treatment for cannabis problems. In the UK, the Liberal Democrats have asserted that a legally controlled market could enforce a limit on the potency of cannabis products.

The findings suggest that using cannabis could reduce their risk of harm by using lower potency products. In places where cannabis is legally sold, it gives people the correct product content information and access to lower potency products.

Despite anecdotal evidence of links between cannabis and anxiety and depression, the authors note that the relations between cannabis potency and other mental health problems are unclear.

Liz Filmer