Cannabis addiction rising in Canada and worldwide thanks to higher THC concentration – Saltwire

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Already the second-most-commonly used substance in Canada, Cannabis usage went up following its legalization and then again during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the combination of increased usage and higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is leading to more people getting addicted to cannabis, according to a new study.
It was long thought that, unlike many other drugs, one could not get addicted to cannabis — but that’s not the case.
“Contrary to popular belief, people can become addicted to cannabis,” according to Canada.ca. “Continued, frequent and heavy cannabis use can cause physical dependency and addiction.
“Cannabis addiction can cause serious harm to your health, social life,  school work,  work and financial future,” Canada.ca adds.
And higher concentrations of THC (over 10 milligrams per gram of THC) are increasing the number of those addicted, which also leads to more people becoming more likely to experience mental health outcomes, according to the study published last week in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
“One of the highest quality studies included in our publication found that use of high potency cannabis, compared to low potency cannabis (5 milligrams of THC or below), was linked to a four-fold increased risk of addiction,” study coauthor Tom Freeman, a senior lecturer in the department of psychology and director of the addiction and mental health group at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, told CNN .
Similarly, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) said in Jan. 2021 that cannabis consumption was up in Canada. They also discussed the negatives of potentially becoming addicted.
“We know that regular use of cannabis leads to greater health problems, addiction and other mental health disorders,” senior author Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Independent Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH, said at the time. “Seeing a sustained increase in cannabis use during the first wave of the pandemic is a concern.”
The CDC said in the U.S. roughly 30% of marijuana users have cannabis use disorder — the medical term for marijuana addiction.
CNN cited the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s finding of a 76% rise in people entering treatment for cannabis addiction over the past decade, “while cannabis potency continued to rise during the same time.”
CNN said in a gram of herbal cannabis, the dried and harvested tops of female marijuana plants that are typically smoked, THC concentrations increased by approximately 2.9 milligrams each year, according to a 2020 study by Freeman and his University of Bath team.
In cannabis resin, the sticky brown sap on the plant from which extracts and concentrations are made, THC levels increased by approximately 5.7 milligrams each year from 1975 to 2017, the study found. Concentrated products can reach extremely high levels of THC.
The study also said that as marijuana became more potent, cases of marijuana-associated psychosis rose.
CAMH advises if partaking to opt for products with less THC content and more CBD (cannabidiol).
“CBD, another compound in cannabis, can reduce some negative effects like memory impairment, paranoia and high heart rate. Fewer people experience psychotic symptoms or other mental health problems when using cannabis that has a higher CBD content.”
Statistics from the Canadian Cannabis Survey 2021 show that cannabis usage actually decreased slightly in 2021 compared to 2020 (which includes the first waves of the pandemic) for both male (31% to 29%) and female Canadians (23% to 22%).
Information for 2022 is not yet available.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2022
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