The GP's View: We cannot ignore dangers of taking cannabis

The black-market cannabis user is at risk of consuming high levels of THC, the most psychoactive chemical in the plant
Dr Martin Scurr

WALK down a busy street or even stroll through a park and these days you stand a good chance of catching a waft of the sweet, tell-tale smell of cannabis.

While still illegal for recreational use, social tolerance for the drug seems to have grown, which gives me great concern.

It's just over a year since the law changed in Britain to allow – with due precautions – medical cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Unsurprisingly, the increased awareness of some known medical benefits, such as easing the muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, has been a trigger for more people to access cannabis illicitly.

A recent YouGov poll found more than a million people were using the drug, bought illegally, to treat an illness. But unlike with medical cannabis, which has been made to pharmaceutical standards, people do not know what they are buying.

The black-market cannabis user is at risk of consuming high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The best-known of the active chemicals in the cannabis plant, THC is a the most psychoactive, ie the one that makes you high and is linked to an increased risk of psychotic illnesses.

Consider, too, recent research from Boston University that revealed the risk of miscarriage is doubled when would-be fathers used cannabis at least once a week, compared to not using it at all. Whether this is due to damage to sperm or passive cannabis smoking by the mother-to-be remains unclear.

What is clear, is that illegal cannabis, whether used for recreational or medicinal purposes, is of unknown content, unknown quality and is inevitably unreliable and potentially dangerous.

© Daily Mail

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