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Turner: Mental illness link to dope holds true

Tuesday, 31 August, 2004

Turner: Mental illness link to dope holds true

The strong link between cannabis use and mental illness drawn today by the Hawke's Bay Clinical Director of Mental Health simply adds weight to the overwhelming evidence of the damage the drug is doing, United Future's Judy Turner says.

Dr Anne Walsh revealed that a study of teenagers in the Hawke's Bay mental health unit showed that most of the 62 patients suffering severe psychiatric illness were cannabis users.

"We get this same message from coroners, from various medical professionals, from psychiatrists - there are few better ways for young people to scramble their minds than to smoke cannabis," Mrs Turner, United Future's health spokeswoman, said.

Similarly disturbing recent international findings have included:

* A Swedish cohort study showing the 600% increase in schizophrenia rates among cannabis-users under the age of 18, as against their peers who did not use the drug * A University of Maastricht study confirming anecdotal evidence that cannabis use can treble the risk of mental illness, and confirming that cannabis causes serious psychotic disorders in people with no history of mental illness * A Karonlinska Institute (Sweden) 15-year longitudinal study of some 50,000 military conscripts that showed that the higher the consumption of cannabis in adolescence, the greater the risk of schizophrenia * A 15-year study of 1920 Americans which showed the cannabis use increased the rate of major depression by 400%

"There is also Professor Robin Murray of London's Institute of Psychiatry reporting that some 90% of his patients showing a first episode of psychosis smoke cannabis.

"In the face of such overwhelming evidence, we have to ask why anyone would legalise this drug?" Mrs Turner asked.

ENDS

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