My 18-year-old son smokes cannabis and says he hasn’t been harmed by it, but I worry a lot, especially now that he admits he prefers skunk. How much more dangerous is skunk than straight cannabis? What can we say to try to wean him off it?
Skunk users are seven times more likely to have a serious mental illness than those who use ordinary cannabis, regardless of their previous health and social histories. Professor Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry recently told the BMJ that while most cannabis users remain happy and healthy, a minority develop psychosis. The biggest risk for developing mental illness is family history, but Murray attributed it to the cannabis alone in around 10-15% of users. Weight for weight, skunk contains between four and six times as much of the active ingredient, THC, than usual cannabis. It also has proportionately less of the other active ingredient, cannabidiol, which is thought to protect somewhat against psychotic effects. The problem is that we can’t predict who is going to become psychotic after taking skunk. Please tell your son this.