Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Marijuana use can cause mental illness - Longmore

Published:Saturday | November 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Staff Reporter
Longmore

A new 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 pre- and post-decriminalisation use pattern among vulnerable groups would have been very useful now in our conversation about legalisation," the lawmaker said.