Washington D.C.: You may want to avoid smoking skunk-like weed as a new study shows that high potency cannabis can damage a crucial part of the brain responsible for communication between the two brain hemispheres.
King's College London and Sapienza University of Rome researchers have known for some time that long-term cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis and recent evidence suggests that alterations in brain function and structure may be responsible for this greater vulnerability.
Exploring the impact of cannabis potency is particularly important since today's high potency 'skunk-like' products have been shown to contain higher proportions of THC than they did around a decade ago. In experimental studies THC has been shown to induce psychotic symptoms and 'skunk-like' products high in THC are now thought to be the most commonly used form of cannabis in the UK.
Senior researcher Paola Dazzan said that they found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not. This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.
The study found that frequent use of high potency cannabis was linked to significantly higher mean-diffusivity (MD), a marker of damage in white matter structure.
Dazzan added that there is an urgent need to educate health professionals, the public and policymakers about the risks involved with cannabis use.