High-potency cannabis linked to youth psychosis

Summary: Young individuals who use high-potency cannabis between the ages of 16 and 18 are twice as likely to experience psychosis by their mid-twenties compared to those who use lower-potency strains Is.

The research used data from the 90s Children's Study, tracking thousands of participants in Bristol. This is the first longitudinal study linking early cannabis use to later psychotic experiences with specific potency levels.

The findings underscore the significant mental health risks associated with stronger forms of cannabis, highlighting the urgent need for public health education and policy adjustments.

Important facts:

  1. Participants who used higher-potency cannabis reported twice the rate of psychotic experiences compared to those who used less potent forms.
  2. The study shows that 10.1% of high-potency cannabis users developed new psychotic symptoms after use, significantly higher than the 3.8% who used lower-potency variants.
  3. This research contributes to the broader discussion on cannabis potency, in which THC levels have increased dramatically over several decades, potentially leading to increased mental health problems among young users.

Source: University of Bath

Young individuals who used high-potency cannabis, such as skunk, between the ages of 16 and 18 were twice as likely to have psychotic experiences between the ages of 19 to 24 compared to those who used lower-potency cannabis. .

This is according to a new study from the University of Bath published today in the scientific journal, Addiction,

Previous studies from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath have found that the concentration of THC in cannabis – the main psychoactive component of cannabis – has increased by 14% from 1970 to 2017, meaning that THC dominates the UK cannabis market today. Is. High potency cannabis varieties like Skunk.

It shows a head and leaves.
High-potency cannabis users were more than twice as likely to report new psychotic experiences after starting to use cannabis, compared to low-potency cannabis users. Credit: Neuroscience News

This new study is the first longitudinal examination of early adolescent psychosis measures and detailed cannabis potency.

The data stems from the Children of the 90s Study, the most comprehensive research project of its kind. It started in Bristol 30 years ago, collecting information and data from thousands of families across the city.

Approximately 14,000 individuals were included in the study from birth, many of whom are still participating in the study today. At ages 16 to 18, participants were asked about recent cannabis use. By age 24, they disclosed their primary cannabis type and any experiences of psychotic experiences such as hallucinations or delusions.

Lead author, Dr Lindsay Hines, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: “Young people who use high-potency forms of cannabis are twice as likely to have psychosis-related experiences such as hallucinations and delusions.

“Importantly, the youth we asked did not report these experiences before they started using cannabis. This provides evidence that high potency cannabis use can have negative effects on mental health.

The study adds to the body of research stemming from the ALSPAC study, which examines a variety of topics, from the relationship between medications taken while pregnant and baby's well-being to how social media can lead to self-harm Is.

Key findings from this study:

• 6.4% of youth who used cannabis had new psychotic experiences, compared with 3.8% of non-users

• After starting to use cannabis, 10.1% of youth using high-potency cannabis reported new psychotic experiences, while 3.8% of youth using low-potency cannabis reported new psychotic experiences.

• High-potency cannabis users were more than twice as likely to report new psychotic experiences after beginning cannabis use, compared to low-potency cannabis users.

This research adds to a growing body of evidence showing that high-potency cannabis use is associated with an increased likelihood of psychotic experiences and longer incidence.

Researchers are now demanding better evidence on the long-term consequences of high-potency cannabis use and exploring ways to reduce the potency of cannabis available to young people.

Dr. Hines said: “Cannabis is changing and higher potency cannabis is becoming increasingly available. These findings show how important it is to understand the long-term effects of high-powered use in young people. We need to improve the messaging and information available to young people on the effects of cannabis use in the 21st century.

Funding: The study has been published in the scientific journal, Addiction and was funded by The Wellcome Trust.

About this psychosis and THC research news

Author: chris melvin
Source: University of Bath
contact: Chris Melvin – University of Bath
image: Image attributed to Neuroscience News

Original Research: open access.
“Incident psychotic experiences following self-reported use of high-potency cannabis: results from a longitudinal cohort study” by Lindsay Hines et al. Addiction


Event-related psychotic experiences following self-reported use of high-potency cannabis: results of a longitudinal cohort study.

Background and objectives

High-potency cannabis use has been associated with an increased risk of psychosis, but the lack of prospective data hinders understanding of causality in this relationship. The aim of this study is to combine prospective reports of cannabis use with retrospective reports of the ability to estimate the potency of cannabis used in adolescence and to explore whether there is an association between cannabis use in adolescence and higher potency. Cannabis use is associated with psychotic experiences of the event.


Population-based birth cohort studies.


United Kingdom.


n= 5570 participants who reported any cannabis use (yes/no) aged 16 and 18 years, and n= 1560 participants from this group also gave a retrospective report on the potency of cannabis.


In questionnaires at ages 16 and 18, individuals self-reported their lifetime cannabis use, and at age 24, participants reported the type of cannabis they had used since they first used cannabis. Has been used the most throughout time. Psychotic experiences at age 24 were assessed using a semi-structured psychosis-like symptom interview, with the event defined as new onset occurring between the ages of 19 and 24.

test results

High potency cannabis use at age 16 or 18 was associated with twice the odds of experiencing psychotic experiences at age 19–24 (odds ratio 2.15, 95% confidence interval 1.13–4.06). There was little evidence of an effect of any cannabis use on psychotic experiences of the event (odds ratio 1.45, 95% confidence interval 0.94–2.12).


It appears that high potency cannabis use is associated with an increased likelihood of psychotic experiences.

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