The possibility of cannabis use leading to schizophrenia has been ruled out according to a latest report from the Government drugs advisers. The definitive link between cannabis use and impairment of mental health (psychological and psychomotor performance) however, cannot be ruled out. It can lead to acute intoxication subsequently resulting in a relapse of mental illness.
It was requested to examine fresh medical evidence for the ability of potent forms of the drug to induce a significant impairment in the mental health. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has now established that smoking of cannabis can increase the susceptibility to schizophrenia by just 1%. This extent of metal health impairment is not comparable to that induced by Class B substrates. Due to this reason, cannabis would be retained in Class C, against the requisition to be considered as a Class B substrate.
It is quite possible that some individuals might be more prone to developing schizophrenia as a consequence of cannabis use. These at-risk individuals cannot be identified by the currently available techniques. So far, it has been possible to highlight only a weak or a causal association between cannabis use frequency and the development of psychosis.
Out of the 3 million people who have used cannabis, an insignificant proportion had developed schizophrenia. On the contrary, several people who have developed schizophrenia do not have a documented history of cannabis use. It has therefore been concluded that cannabis use need not necessarily lead to schizophrenia.
It has also been concluded that cannabis would still be retained in Class C, which means that the penalty associated with personal possession of such a substrate would be much lower. This decision has led to mixed reaction from health officials who are worried that cannabis could be perceived as a relatively safe drug.
The council members have however warned that the possibility of cancer and bronchitis associated with cannabis use should not be ignored. A review has also been ordered to closely examine the classification of 'date rape' drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB, presently under Class C.
To conclude, discouraging people to use cannabis would not be possible without a sustained educational programme, projecting the wide range of impairment in physical and psychological health.