Cannabis and Young People: Reviewing the Evidence

Cannabis and Young People: Reviewing the Evidence

Cannabis and Young People: Reviewing the Evidence

Cannabis and Young People: Reviewing the Evidence

Synopsis

Cannabis is at the centre of ongoing controversial and often confused debate. Opinions on its potential impact on health are sharply divided: some argue that it poses serious risks to mental health and that adolescent use may lead to psychotic illness in young adulthood, or that it acts as a gateway to hard drugs such as cocaine or opiates. Conversely, others point to alcohol or tobacco being far more harmful yet entirely legal. Cannabis and Young People aims to shed light on the current debates by reviewing all the available evidence on a range of issues relating to the use of cannabis among children and adolescents and summarizing the main conclusions in clear, jargon-free language. Areas covered include: Patterns of cannabis use; Changes in usage; Young people's views on cannabis; The potential harmful effects, including mental health problems, educational attainment, antisocial behaviour; The family and social factors that can initiate cannabis use; The progression to regular use; The effects of decriminalization; This book will be an essential read for anyone needing informed, authoritative information about cannabis and its effects.

Excerpt

Cannabis has been the subject of considerable and often impassioned debate over the years. In 1967, The Times newspaper included a full-page advertisement signed by a variety of public figures, including the Beatles, that called for a review of the drug’s legal status (IDMU 2005). Opinion on the potential consequences of cannabis use is sharply divided, with some arguing that it poses serious risks to both physical and mental health, while others believe that any effects are modest by comparison with those of alcohol or tobacco (Wodak, Reinarman and Cohen 2002). A survey of over 1600 adults in the UK conducted by MORI in 1999 found that, although a majority of respondents wanted stronger drug laws, half of those questioned agreed that the law should be changed so that it was no longer illegal to use cannabis (Pearson and Shiner 2002).

Public discussion on the topic has intensified in the UK following the Home Office’s reclassification of cannabis as a Class C substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act in January 2004 (Home Office 2005). The production, supply and possession of cannabis remain illegal, although the maximum penalties have been reduced from five years’ to two years’ imprisonment. For young people under the age of 18, a first offence of possession results in an arrest and a formal warning or reprimand, with further offences leading to a final warning or charge. At the time of writing, however, the reclassification policy was being reviewed (BBC 2005a) following the publication of recent research demonstrating an association between cannabis use in adolescence and the reporting of psychotic symptoms in young adulthood (Fergusson, Horwood and Ridder 2005; Henquet et al. 2005).

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.