DrugFAM supports Sarah Graham’s views on cannabis and skunk

DrugFAM supports Sarah Graham’s views on cannabis and skunk

Sarah Graham thoughts on Cannabis

Cannabis- the therapist’s opinion… DrugFAM supports Sarah Graham’s views:

Sarah Graham is a Priory trained addictions counsellor and director of Sarah Graham SolutionsShe is a leading authority on drugs use by teenagers and regularly appears in the media as an expert commentator for FrankThis is her personal and professional view of the drug and how to treat cannabis abuse and dependency:

Of all the mind-altering drugs that people use, cannabis is the one that causes the most controversy and about which there is enormous cultural denial. My appearances on TV talking about cannabis often bring me considerable hate mail from people who think that cannabis is “just a bit of spliff”.

It is believed in popular culture that you “can’t become addicted to cannabis” and is often described as a “soft drug”, because it’s use wasn’t thought to lead to physical dependency; in the way that heroin and alcohol use does.

Professionals working with young people are having to rewrite the rule book about cannabis use- as skunk takes over the lion’s share of the cannabis market here in the UK.

Those of us working with young people are seeing physical symptoms of withdrawalfrom the stronger “skunk” strains of cannabis. Along with extremely entrenched psychological dependencies that are very difficult to break.

In some cases we are seeing quite severe reactions- from both the taking the drug and when the client starts to reduce cannabis use and become abstinent. These symptoms may include hallucinations, loss of coordination, shaking, sweating, nausea, mood swings, panic attacks, memory loss, cognitive function problems, sleep disturbance, angry outbursts, uncontrollable giggling, ravings for the drug, binge-eating, or loss of appetite, diarrhoea, self-harming, reduced fertility and psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.

You probably know this from your own experience- but it may help to have it confirmed in black-and-white by an addictions expert. People can become addicted to cannabis (F12.2 Cannabinoid Dependence Syndrome, to use the term referred to in the World Health Organisation classification volume ICD-10).

I work with people addicted to all drugs- including the “hard ones”. And the treatment process of cannabis addiction is often one of the most challenging- for the individual and the therapist. Ironically, it can take longer to successfully treat a young cannabis dependent person than a young person addicted to “harder drugs”. Why? Because of what it does to their brains and the length of time it remains in the system after totally stopping smoking and “getting abstinent” (4-6 weeks). With a heroin or alcohol addiction, once the physical dependency has been medically managed (2-4 days detox) the person stands a good chance of being relatively clearheaded and able to process information; and engage in treatment.

Counselling skunk smoking teenagers, it is often painful to witness just how difficult it is for the young person to retain information and how damaged they can be by the thing they crave. And how strenuously they will defend it against all the mounting evidence they and their loved ones are experiencing. Sadly, even if they are very motivated and really want to make changes the effects of the drug are very counter-therapeutic. Getting to an appointment on time- especially in the morning- can be very difficult. Cannabis use saps motivation and energy and the low mood, panic attacks and paranoia it can induce, makes it very difficult to get up and “do the work” necessary to get well.

In my company- Sarah Graham Solutions- we prioritise working with cannabis dependent teens because we’ve seen enough serious cases to understand just how damaging cannabis use can be; and what a time-bomb skunk use by teens may be for individuals and society. The drug has “evolved” through man-made interventions and it may be years before the medical science can “prove” what many experts like me believe to be the case.

I think that skunk use is a key factor in gangs and the upsurge in the violent crime that accompanies them. Some of the teens I have worked with have become extremely violent and behaved in ways they are very remorseful about; and can attribute this to their use of skunk cannabis- or its lack of availability; and definitely not the way they were raised. Others have turned inwards and spent months and years living in a solitary, internal head place, that feels lonely and quietly desperate.

Teenagers who smoke cannabis regularly- or who binge smoke heavily- seem particularly at risk of developing a dependency and the very latest neuroscience suggest they are seriously risking permanent brain damage; because their brains are still growing and can’t repair once the damage has been done. This addiction can be very powerful- the psychological grip it can have over an individual can seem almost impossible to break.

I hear often that an individual has tried to stop many times and “failed” this has led to ever-decreasing self-worth. Loss of educational aspirations and a sense that life is going nowhere. The good news is- it is possible to stop smoking and for a person to turn things around.

We’ve worked with many people who have managed to stop smoking and gone on to have healthy, happy, successful lives. Even the best addictions counsellors are not miracle workers though and anyone who offers a quick-fix should be avoided.

Cannabis treatment that gets the best results often needs to be long-term and using an holistic model (it can take 3 months to a year of regular support for a young person to feel secure in their recovery). Teens are often part of a cannabis using peer-group and the pressure to conform can be tough to resist. The USA has many residential rehabs for teens and sadly we don’t (although I’m trying to find funding to set one up).

As a trained counsellor and auricular acupuncturist and person in recovery, I know what works; and what doesn’t. I have fostered close ties with Talking About Cannabis because I understand how vital good family support is- to achieve successful results (and preserve everyone’s sanity).

There are some other very good projects available to do this therapeutic work (contact Frank to ask what’s in your area) but don’t be put off if your Dr or local service doesn’t know much about cannabis or minimizes the seriousness of its use).

We have a long way to go to bring all professionals up-to-speed and when we start to see the scale of the problem (and the potential cost of treatment) you can understand why this subject is such a political hot potato. It’s sad but true that a lot of the treatment agenda is driven by crime stats. Heroin and crack addicts can create one-person crime waves- so getting them into treatment is a political priority.

Cannabis and its impact on mental health may cost society a great deal too- but up until recently it hasn’t been something that could harness voters. This may change as more is discovered about the links between skunk and violence especially knife crime.

Cannabis’ place in society has long been contentious. It’s been a symbol of counter-cultural rebellion and many politicians formed their opinions at college and haven’t reassessed the facts. Cannabis has even been seen by some parents as a safer alternative to alcohol. I smoked cannabis for many years- from 14 until I came “into recovery” 7 years ago; and at one time wanted a cannabis leaf tattooed on my wrist (thankfully I was too young). Having smoked traditional cannabis- grass and hash- and skunk in Amsterdam and Mexico, I can tell you first-hand, that cannabis has changed.

The THC/CBD ratio change in skunk has fundamentally altered the way the drug feels and its impact on the brain. We need to bring everyone up to speed. And quickly!

I would say, in summary- that skunk is a very powerful, neuro-toxic substance- that should be respected by all people and is best avoided completely by teenagers. Until we know more about the long-term effects I would definitely say “Err on the side of caution”.

If you or your family member is using it and you are worried ask for help now. Don’t leave it until a serious, potentially irreversible, mental illness has taken hold.

———————————————————————————————————————

Sarah Graham Solutions has clinics in Surrey and on Harley Street.

She will try and answer all questions sent to her via her website: sarahgrahamsolutions.com

Thanks to The Hale Clinic 

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32 COMMENTS

  1. This is dangerous and irresponsible misinformation.

    The one thing that young people know is that they are never told the truth about drugs and this is yet another example of using scare tactics which will actually rebound and have the opposite effect to that intended.

    Cannabis is the least toxic psychoactive and therapeutic substance known to science. As Professor Les Iversen, chair, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, say:

    “Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects. It
    is never possible for a scientist to say that anything is totally safe. But, at the end of the day,
    scaremongering does science – and the public – a great disservice. Cannabis is simply not as
    dangerous as it is being made out to be.”

    Having said that, the only people at any risk of significant harm are children and although cannabis far less harmful than alcohol, children should avoid it.

    Ms Graham’s misleading, scaremongering, evangelical approach does not work. It never has and it never will. When children realise they have been misled they stop listening to any drugs advice at all.

  2. Ridiculous. The ONLY way one can become physically dependant on cannabis is if they start using it before the age of 16 and it becomes part of their biology in terms of needing it to function.

    IT IS part of our biology in general! Endo-cannabinoid systems have been with all creatures since very early life. THERE ARE CANNABINOIDS IN BREAST MILK! And cannabis is the only grown form of natural cannabinoids that can be found. Hence why it is and has been considered a medicine for MANY different ailments for many thousands of years, some very serious ones. AND VITAL FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.

    People are still going to do it whether it is legal or not. For example kids drinking alcohol. But there are far less that would smoke at an early age if it was taxed, regulated and set a minimum age of use. Plus it would be quality controlled to make sure there aren’t any other harmful chemicals mixed in. Face it, you are NOT going to stop people from doing these things. You just have to make sure they are as safe as they can be if they do CHOOSE to.

    Upsurge in gangs and violent crime? ONLY BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES CONTROLLING THE SUPPLY!!

    EXPERT!? HAH!!! If you were an expert you’d realise that all of your issues come from starting at 14 years old! For people with half a brain, we know not to… and to not start a vendetta because of it. Would you PLEASE educate people the right way!?

    STOP ALL THE PROPAGANDA AND START LIVING HEALTHILY.

  3. It is little wonder the author receives hate mail when she uses public forums such as these to spread blatant lies and propaganda. First of all, you go on about “skunk”, you do know don’t you that skunk is a single strain, albeit on that has been crossed with others to make new hybrids, but still only a single strain, and that it is not, by a long chalk, the most readily available strain in Britain?
    Next you claim that cannabis’ place in society has “long been contentious”, it was the sudden prohibition of cannabis that made it contentious, if it ever was or is at all now. Prior to this cannabis was extensively used in medicines, as it still is in some places and is beginning to be used again in many others.

    I do not question the possible ill effects of cannabis, if used incorrectly, especially for the young. I doubt if any right thinking person would, there are many things in this world, things that have absolutely no medicinal value I might add, that are equally, if not more, damaging to young minds and most of these things are readily available in shops across the whole country and beyond.

    I personally have been smoking cannabis for over a quarter of a century, I started when I was twelve, and I have smoked cannabis on 3 different continents, smoked mild strength, medium strength, full strength and crazy strength cannabis, as have many, many, many of my friends, also from very young ages, and I can categorically state that none of us, that’s zero percent, have ever, even for the shortest time, experienced any of the symptoms, side effects, or problems you associate with either cannabis use, or the stopping of said use. I can only assume that you, and anyone else you say has suffered these terrible, but most likely faked or imaginary things, are weak minded, weak willed and generally set up for failure due to whatever it is that leaves you this way.

    While I feel sorry for you for this, I still believe you really need to stop lying about something you profess to be an expert in when the evidence clearly points in the other direction. That or stop complaining about the hate mail 😉

  4. Your comments about cannabis are just ridiculous, I’ve smoked weed for 20 years and I never become addicted to it. You get your information in books or papers written by people who do not want to see this natural herb legalised. There has been scientific studies done on this plant recently that show the benefits of this plant. People like you would rather folk with MS or Cerabal Paulsey to take tablets for thier illness which harm internal organs. They are also addictive. There are thousands more people addicted to big pharma’s pills than addicted to cannabis. Also why didn’t you talk about cannabis healing qualities like recent university studies have shown. People like you who say what their told are scaremongers. Of course if children take it then it could affect their brain. That’s only because children’s brains are not fully formed. Alcohol and pills have a more dentremental to their health.

  5. Aaaaaaaargh hahaha hahaha hahaha hahahahhHahHHHhHaaaaaa, oh I’m sorry, is this not a joke? Nice clear references so we can make our own mind up on this “evidence” why do all these people care so much now, they didn’t when grit weed was giving all the smokers silicosis. But noooow we must stop the stones! !! Yeah right…

  6. What the real experts say:

    “Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects. It
    is never possible for a scientist to say that anything is totally safe. But, at the end of the day,
    scaremongering does science – and the public – a great disservice. Cannabis is simply not as
    dangerous as it is being made out to be.” – Professor Les Iversen, chair, Advisory Council on the
    Misuse of Drugs, May 2003

    “Cannabis has been used safely for many thousands of years…there have been concerted efforts
    to demonise the drug’s use.” – Professor Tim Kirkham, psychologist, Liverpool University. 2007

    “I don’t think it causes mental illness. I have never seen a case of so-called cannabis psychosis.”
    – Dr Trevor Turner, former vice president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 2007

    “I think it is also important to note that we cannot be certain that there is a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis at present.” – Professor Glyn Lewis, University of Bristol, March 2011

    “I don’t see a lot of problem cannabis users…we’re not seeing a lot of cannabis users presenting for treatment.” – Dr Clare Gerada, chair, Royal College of General Practitioners. March 2012

    “The harms of cannabis are less than the harms of alcohol…decriminalising cannabis would bring a net benefit to the population.” – Professor David Nutt, chair, Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, June 2012

    “Cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains.” -Professor Terrie Moffitt,
    Institute of Psychiatry. August 2012

    “Cannabis is not without harm but it’s substantially less than alcohol and tobacco.” – Professor
    Robin Room, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, July 2013

    “In the rogues’ gallery of health risks cannabis hardly compares to nicotine, alcohol or even
    refined carbohydrates.” – Dr Trevor Turner, consultant psychiatrist at the East London and City
    University Mental Health NHS Trust, August 2013

  7. I noticed you keep referring to yourself as a professional, but I know that a professional person does not fabricate absolute nonsense to further their agenda. You are a liar, embellishing the truth to suit your dated views and enforce your authority, you are the embodiment of all I believe to be wrong with our world.
    Reform is happening, everywhere. Just look to America, Uruguay, spain and other countries where the change has already happened and the number of people with psychosis has not increased a bit, not even by a full 1%.
    I sincerely hope you contract a painful, debilitating illness, where your only relief would be to consume cannabis.
    Before you reply (if you do) please note that having served as a GP for 18 years and a medical professor in one of the top universities of england for 10 years, I will call every single bit of the bull you seem so fond of spewing.

  8. I find myself very conflicted upon reading tour article. While there are some portions I can slightly (and in difference of opinions) agree with. I see how cannibis can become addictive if not properly administered. Smoking cannibus is not how it should be consumed, it wasn’t meant for that purpose. We as human beings have altered its manner of consumption over millions of years. While I can understand and respect modern science and your research thus far, I have to tell you that your research is flawed. First, your test was in juveniles. Not just any juveniles, but those whom were not prescribed cannibus by a medical doctor. These children (because let’s face it, that’s what they are) were most likely unsupervised during their “habitual usage” and (as you stated, but not verbatim) “certainly weren’t raised this way.” Now, that being said, let me tell you my own personal experience. A bit of background first; I came from an extremely broken home, violent and neglectful. I was passed from foster home to paid nanny to family member to girl’s home, to emergency shelter, to boot camp, mental institutions, and even the street. My own mother dropped me off on a street corner at 16 with all of my belongings in a neighborhood I knew no one. I was diagnosed with crohns disease, costochondritis, psoriatic arthritis, PTSD, severe anxiety, borderline personality, multiple personalities, bipolar, and manic depression. I survived colon cancer at 19 and Noe have a permanent colostomy in which I can not get disability for. I have applied for 12 years now and have had an attorney every time. Yet still I lose. For almost 20 years my main source of medication has been cannibus. I have been responsible with it. I use it because it helps with my depression, it has curved my flashbacks and kept them at bay (for the most part), it lessens my pain immensely, it calms my anxiety, and so very much more. My point in this response is that, though be it not a helpful medication for some, there most certainly are medicinal purposes in cannibus. I feel that your article is false in its underlying message, which I find to be that all cannibus is horrible and should be wiped from the face of the earth. In addition, ma’am, cannibus is part of my spiritual path to my God. I am a disciple of Christ, one whom learns from every day. In my bible, God says that he gave me all seed bearing plants of the earth for complete consumption. The root, the stalk… We should be utilizing the entire plant. I say, do more research and please don’t be so quick to judge. The path to an open mind is closing a narrow one. Thank youfor your time, God bless .

  9. Ive smoked skunk since I was 13 years old, I am now a regular smoker and smoke several times daily. The most harmful thing in my joints is the cigarette used to help it burn. Cannabis has helped me control my ADHD, My mum was told I needed ritalin but saw the state it left my cousins mind in and refused. I work a very manual job and smoke the entire day throughout. Rise above the ignorance and focus solely on drugs that ruin peoples lives. Personally cannabis does not register as a drug to me but nore as a miracle it even exists. If you object to the use of weed youre part of the problem.

  10. Hey Sarah, whilst i’m in agreement that teenagers should not consume cannabis just like they shouldn’t consume alcohol, and i agree that findings have shown that 9% of cannabis smokers become addicted, that is still comparable to 15% of alcohol consumers and 32% of tobacco smokers becoming addicted to those substances, both of which are worse for the body. I would also like to point out that the side-effects/ withdrawal symptoms you have listed, whilst a majority of them i could believe are potential side effects as i may have experienced a couple of them before myself, they are still relatively mild, and only possible side effects. When compared to alcohol and it’s potentially lethal effects, and the amount of underage drinking that takes place in the UK especially, it can not be denied that cannabis is a safer drug, although if you contest that i would to interested to hear why. Cannabis has a therapeutic ratio of 1:20,000 which means you would need 20,000 doses all at once to be at risk from dying; this is compared to 1:20 for alcohol. As for the ‘cannabis causing schizophrenia’ debate i believe you are wrong; cannabis has not been shown to cause this illness in any way, although may be responsible for the illness developing earlier than usual in someone that was susceptible. The classic study which looked at cannabis smokers and schizophrenia did not account for the smokers in the study mixing their cannabis with tobacco; 70% of schizophrenia sufferers were heavy smokers before the illness started and so the correlation was shown between schizophrenia and tobacco, not cannabis.

    As for your comments on violence, i have never once in my experience found someone to be violent or angry whilst smoking cannabis, and as a general observation i have found that even when no cannabis has been consumed, cannabis smokers are a lot more relaxed and docile compared to alcohol consumers. I’m not debating that there is drug violence out there, however my argument is that cannabis violence is purely a product of prohibition. Cannabis is an illegal substance however very popular, so the market is pushed underground to be controlled by the gangs. The gangs will not be interested in cannabis necessarily but sell it to fund their other illegal ventures. If cannabis was legal and regulated, it would take the business away from the gangs and reduce crime; if there was no more illegality surrounding the drug, then there will be no violence associated with it either. If it was legally regulated, teenagers would find it harder to get hold of it aswell; street dealers do not ask to see proof of somebody’s age whereas all supermarkets and shops that sell alcohol are legally obligated to ID anyone they believe to be too young.

  11. As for your comments on violence, i have never once in my experience found someone to be violent or angry whilst smoking cannabis, and as a general observation i have found that even when no cannabis has been consumed, cannabis smokers are a lot more relaxed and docile compared to alcohol consumers. I’m not debating that there is drug violence out there, however my argument is that cannabis violence is purely a product of prohibition. Cannabis is an illegal substance however very popular, so the market is pushed underground to be controlled by the gangs. The gangs will not be interested in cannabis necessarily but sell it to fund their other illegal ventures. If cannabis was legal and regulated, it would take the business away from the gangs and reduce crime; if there was no more illegality surrounding the drug, then there will be no violence associated with it either. If it was legally regulated, teenagers would find it harder to get hold of it aswell; street dealers do not ask to see proof of somebody’s age whereas all supermarkets and shops that sell alcohol are legally obligated to ID anyone they believe to be too young.

  12. Scandalous, irrational scare mongering from someone with a vested interest in spreading this sort of misinformed nonsense which flies in the face of vast swathes of international empirical evidence to the contrary. I’m surprised no other comments have appeared from the millions of knowledgeable cannabis users or even the ones who claim that “cannabis is just a bit of spliff” which doesn’t even make sense. Or have they been removed in favour of those showing support for this ill informed diatribe — oh but there don’t seem to be any of those either :^)

  13. Lol because “holistic medicine” is grounded in science.

    “Cannabis’ place in society has long been contentious. It’s been a symbol of counter-cultural rebellion and many politicians formed their opinions at college and haven’t reassessed the facts.” – Cannabis has had a non-contentious place in society ever since traders moved along the silk road (it grows wild in Kazakhstan). This was before politicians looking to play the race card in the US warned citizens about the danger of marijuana that latinos entering the country were smoking and pushing onto children (same story with LSD) because they didn’t want them there.

    “Cannabis treatment that gets the best results often needs to be long-term and using an holistic model”. – Agenda anyone? Please, try some agenda.

  14. So 10% of users ruin it for the rest of us? So go ban alcohol. There are many health benifits to cannibis if used correctly(not smoked) isn’t it time we stopped trying to control people & educate them instead. I find the crime comment very disturbing because it should be obvious to someone who has a education like yours that the crime around cannibis is there almost entirely only because it’s illegal. You must see that? It’s blindingly obvious so many problems would be rectified in a taxed & regulated environment. Take the control away from the gangs you speak of is the only logical way forward. I dare u to argue.

  15. Some of the points made in this article are wholly misleading and un-representative of the truth.

    For example; a recent study by Harvard University found that there is no causal link between Cannabis use and Schizophrenia (http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/12/10/harvard-marijuana-doesnt-cause-schizophrenia/63148.html)

    I have used Cannabis both medicinally and recreationally for nearly twenty years, as have many of my peers. Lack of motivation is not inherent to Cannabis use in my opinion. Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve used Cannabis to control my lack of attention, help with depression and ease the symptoms of chronic back pain and Asthma. As a therapeutic tool I feel that my life would have been much more difficult without this wonderful substance.

    No-one is claiming that Cannabis is ‘safe’. It’s a highly psychotropic drug and should be treated with respect and caution, as all drugs should be. However in 2014, given the weight of evidence from the scientific community; no healthcare professional can rationally espouse the kind of prohibitionist hyperbole on offer in this article.

    I’ll sign-off with a quote from Professor Les Iverson CBE (former Chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) who, in his address to the British Pharmacological Society’s Inaugural Public Lecture during 2010 said:

    “Cannabis is as close to a panacea as any other substance used for medicinal purposes”

    I’d draw serious doubts that the author of this article has any evidence contrary to this claim that would stand up to rational scrutiny. It’s time for this prohibitionist thinking to be retired. Cannabis should be legalised, controlled and regulated. For the good of everyone.

  16. I’ve used cannabis on and off for 45 years and never experiences any withdrawal symptoms other than initial sleep difficulty. Strong powerful cannabis has always been around such as strong graded hashish(hashish is graded 00 the strongest to 0,1,2,3 being the weakest in producer countries)

    The so called skunk strain were bred from these strong strains of hashish, therefore strong strains of cannabis are not a new phenomenon and have always been around being used by famous people like Paul McCartney without any obvious problems.

    I would like to know what % of cannabis users in this country from the millions that use it are affected the way you say, is it teenagers only,are they generally vulnerable people,or people predisposed to mental health issues? As well do you say mature responsible adults are likely to be affected the same way as teenagers?

    From my experience in life many young drinkers of alcohol experience similar problems to those you highlight.

  17. What complete tosh i have been a medicinal cannabis use for over 10 years and no alot of people who use this medicine its far less addictive than most substances be it legal illegal or over the counter drugs i am in a wheelchair with spina bifida i developex scholiosis when i was young and as a domino affect i soon started developing pressure ulcers of which an infection had gotten into my bone and destroyed my pelvis when i tried painkillers from the gp and pain specialists i was ether still house bound with pain or in hospital with side affects when i use cannabis im relatively pain free and lead an independent life

  18. Care to cite any sources of scientific evidence to support any of your claims? Or are we to just take your word for it?

  19. Could you please provide evidence of physical dependency as this is an important medical breakthrough as cannabis is known, beyond doubt, that there is no physical dependency.

  20. I was struck with a feeling of Deja Vu when reading this article. This echoes so closely to the situation that arose in the time of Alcohol Prohibition. During this time the gangster suppliers had stopped selling the traditional forms of alcohol, like beer and wine, and were pushing “Moonshine”: a dangerous, often toxic, form of alcohol. Due to this people were saying “We can’t legalise alcohol because it has now morphed into this really nasty stuff”.

    Eventually, when alcohol was legalised, people were once again able to purchase beer and wine and they turned their backs on the Moonshine.

    What is often, wrongly, referred to “Skunk” is nothing more than “Moonshine Weed” and it’s existence is due to similar forces. In places where cannabis is now legal to use the moonshine (“skunk”) suppliers are starting to go out of business as the people switch back to the properly produced cannabis from reputable suppliers.
    The following link is to a webpage with a lot of information on this subject:
    http://www.clear-uk.org/the-importance-of-matured-cannabis/

  21. Cannabis doesn’t change, it’s called cross pollination. Different strains are being cultivated with other strains. They all differ on CBD and THC levels. It all depends on the ailment it is healing or relieving. It is the most medicinal plant in the world.

    And perhaps some of those children who have those withdraw symptoms merely have them because the cannabis medication was aiding them while they smoked it. It was actually curing them. I never had one withdraw from marijuana and I hadn’t used it for 25 years until I had no other cure for my migraines. It’s bad enough that you all don’t have any data on the negative effects of cannabis because there is no real study because of manipulation, but to go around spouting it when you really don’t know is a sad example of being uneducated of the subject.

    How many kids got withdraw symptoms? How many didn’t?

    But on the same note thank you for what you do daily for teenagers, but they also need to know the facts. It’s been used for thousands of years for medicine. The real “drugs” on the streets need to be talked about. You all say it’s a gateway drug but of course as harmless as cannabis is after they smoke it and learn the truth then all kids will think you are also lying to them about the “real drugs” that actually DO kill people.

  22. I just don’t even know what too say… Where did you get you’re degree? You listed off everything any teenager does as a possible list of side effects due to heavy use? Any chimp would be able to tell that you can’t even do you’re job properly… Maybe you should try actually helping people instead of spreading lies about cannabis as the longer people like you go on like this, the longer people with cancer who could be treated using cannabis may die. I hope you think about all the lives you could be potentially ending!
    P.S. I don’t even smoke, I just think it’s disgusting that people like you are happy to let people die because of you wanting to spread lies that have been scientifically disproved!

  23. Hello, Your point where you say “I would say, in summary- that skunk is a very powerful, neuro-toxic substance- that should be respected by all people and is best avoided completely by teenagers. Until we know more about the long-term effects I would definitely say “Err on the side of caution” ….. Cannabis has been around for 1000’s of years, we know what the long term effects are.. Being criminalised for choices we take towards our own bodies. This is he biggest harm.. not mental health issues. People who consume cannabis ( not just smoking ) and have mental health issues, will have those issues whether they consume cannabis or not

  24. Very sad misinformation. The demonization of the worlds most beneficial plant is not in the worlds best interest. It is quite damaging, your “work” is of great remorse to planet earth. For human kind to grow we must make use of cannabis in all it’s possibilities. I hope you can see that one day.

  25. Everybody’s comments are respected by HTM, as are the opinions of the readers of this article, as is the opinion of Sarah Graham – (author of this article). HTM have forwarded these comments to Sarah Graham, so that she can have the option to respond. Thank you.

  26. Ridiculous article in my opinion. You are purposefully misleading the public & only cause further harm to others especially those like myself who are dependent on cannabis to live any sort of quality of life. You should be more responsible rather than trying to create more hysteria over something that is quite frankly not an issue unless your income comes from treating those with supposed “addictions”.

  27. Woefully unabashed unscientific scaremongering (please quantify “skunk”. I small vicious animal that releases a pungent smell as an act of defence? A strain of cannabis that has been around for several decades and is by no means the strongest/highest THC variety available? Or a derogatory term used for its obvious negative connotations by sensationalist loving media and scaremongers?) that should solely belong in rags such as The Daily Mail and The Sunday Sport. If Sarah Graham is a professional it is a professional of spreading misinformation and propaganda. No wonder her talents are called upon by the likes of Frank whose own information is often tainted with inaccurate and misleading information.

    Scaremongering and propaganda such as this no longer works as people are now able to fully seek the truth for themselves by often going to the source of that information such as scientific studies and in doing so educated themselves before people like Sarah come along and cherry-pick and twist results to their own opinionated agendas that rarely match the actual scientific evidence.

    The same can be said for our politicians who continually ignore the evidence and advice given by actual experts and highly qualified in the field of drug research, such as Prof. David Nutt. They’d much rather listen to ‘professionals’ such as Sarah and Peter Hitchens whilst conveniently allowing two of the most dangerous drugs to be sold legally. A disgraceful hypocrisy that needs to come to an end.

    If we are to effectively deal with our drug issues it is going to take a brave approach of honesty and a difficult prospect of identifying the real reasons why people chose to turn to drugs in the first place. Blaming substances themselves, especially less harmful and proven beneficial drugs such as cannabis, for potential harms is glazing over the real issues that cause people to use and abuse them in the first place, such as inequality and poverty.

  28. i feel you i have used cannabis since i was 16 because ritalin made me violent its the best meds i ever stumbled across i might of just been trying to get high like the rest at first but once i did it i realized it worked real good for my adhd an it helped me get out of special ed an then out of remedial classes an i am not addicted i have been off it for two months so far for po because i got caught with a j by a cop wooooo an not trying to turn tricks to get it yet i would like my meds yes but i am not graving to get a hit like some junkie this lady is so stupid its sad an as for skunk its a strained that is rare i have had it one time just once but it was the best meds ever if they would pass it to be legal maybe they could get cannabis that is known an can regulate it but until they do it will keep feeding the crime rings because us who need it will keep using it like it or not an me personally would love to be able to go in a store an know what i am getting an be able to get the grade i need every time i need it until then brick weed an mid grade lol

  29. Of course she’s going to say Cannabis is bad for you, dangerous, addictive and all the rest. If only to drive business towards her ‘counselling service’. I’m willing to bet that her income rests on gullible middle class parents sending their little angels to her because they found the end of a joint in their schoolbag.

    I don’t believe that her opinion is genuinely held (I know, I’m too nice and give people too much credit) and is merely a marketing ploy (but not that nice).

  30. I am sad to see how many comments here are ignorant of the real harm that is done to young people’s brains (which are not yet fully developed) by skunk. The ignorance displayed in those comments is due to not understanding the difference between cannabis and skunk. Do your research – look into the chemical differences between the two substances. I have first-hand experience of seeing my bright and personable son descend into mental illness due to use of skunk. I know other families whose sons have become withdrawn and depressed due to using skunk. Some are suicidal. Sarah is shining a light onto this appalling problem and I salute her courage.

  31. I love reading these comments because once upon a time I would of agreed with the vast majority of them, and literally every single comment has some stereotypical pro cannabis bull crap in it, even professor David Nutt has been quoted! where would a pro cannabis argument be without one of those hahaha. I think the vast majority of people who are commenting do not have the slightest understanding of how addiction works, because for some people smoking cannabis is not a problem at all, for somebody like myself, it is and it was. I started smoking cannabis at a very young age and a few years later I was using heroin. This isn’t scare tactics, this is what happened, and even though heroin ruined my life and peoples around me I’d confidently say that cannabis was the drug that ruined my head the most. It had me locked in my house for years being afraid of the outside and the only thing i ever wanted to do was smoke. I am now 2 years and 3 months abstinent from any mood altering substance and each day of my life i am around like minded individuals who are also clean from drugs or trying to get clean. One common theme that I hear and see from the people I am around everyday is that although heroin and crack ruin your life quickly, cannabis is the drug that really messes you up over a long period of time. So you can comment back to Sarah all you like with your hate comments but fortunately for yourselves you have obviously not had to experience the life of an addict. One last thing about Sarah’s agenda being mentioned and hows she just out to promote herself or whatever people are saying, I am one individual that would be dead today if Sarah hadn’t made a phone call to a treatment centre for me. You wont read about this in any magazine or newspaper because 1. I’m not famous and 2. Sarah doesn’t go shouting about the lives she helps to save within her work. People are very quick to judge her within these comments just because they have their own motives of wanting legalised cannabis. The funny thing is you don’t want cannabis legalised for the greater good of society, you want cannabis legalised for YOU. so before you write hate comments back to her 1. look at her motives, shes using her own experience to help others who are like minded, and 2. check your own motives before you shit on your keyboard, it doesnt deserve it 😉 Keep coming back! 😛 x

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