Mar­i­juana use can cause men­tal ill­ness – Long­more

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Livern Bar­rett/Staff Re­porter

ANEW study con­ducted by a univer­sity in The Nether­lands has found that smok­ing cannabis can triple the risk of de­vel­op­ing a men­tal ill­ness such as schizophre­nia, one govern­ment sen­a­tor has re­vealed.

Dr Saphire Long­more used the find­ing by the Univer­sity of Maas­trict to urge that amid the push for Ja­maica to le­galise mar­i­juana that law­mak­ers “act re­spon­si­bly” and “with full recog­ni­tion of the dan­gers to vul­ner­a­ble groups”.

“In one of the big­gest in­ves­ti­ga­tions launched into the long-term ef­fects of the drug, sci­en­tists have un­cov­ered dra­matic ev­i­dence prov­ing mar­i­juana is dan­ger­ous and can cause se­ri­ous psy­chotic dis­or­ders in peo­ple with no his­tory of men­tal ill­ness,” said Long­more.

“The re­search ap­pears to con­firm anec­do­tal ev­i­dence of the dan­gers of reg­u­lar use. It shows that peo­ple who smoke cannabis are nearly three times more likely than non-users to de­velop a psy­chotic dis­or­der,” she added.

The govern­ment sen­a­tor made it clear that she was aware of the “tremen­dous” medic­i­nal value and the “mas­sive eco­nomic ben­e­fit” Ja­maica could reap from the le­gal­i­sa­tion of mar­i­juana; how­ever, she urged cau­tion, point­ing to what she said were the un­known links to pos­si­ble ill­nesses such as devel­op­men­tal dis­or­ders in chil­dren and adults, can­cer, as well as heart and vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

“But Mr Speaker, if we are to take the path of free­ing up the weed, I im­plore we do so re­spon­si­bly,” Long­more cau­tioned.

“We must en­sure the sen­si­ti­sa­tion of vul­ner­a­ble groups such as preg­nant and breast­feed­ing moth­ers, young chil­dren and ado­les­cents, men­tally af­fected per­sons, and those liv­ing with heart and/or vas­cu­lar dis­ease,” she said.

Long­more, in a jab at the last Por­tia Simpson Miller ad­min­is­tra­tion, opined that the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties around Ja­maica’s de­ci­sion in 2015 to de­crim­i­nalise ganja were “woe­fully in­ad­e­quate”.

She said that it would have been pru­dent to con­duct spe­cific re­search around cannabis use within the so­ci­ety. “A study of the pre­and post-de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion use pat­tern among vul­ner­a­ble groups would have been very use­ful now in our con­ver­sa­tion about le­gal­i­sa­tion,” the law­maker said.


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