More potent cannabis can lead to greater chance of addiction and psychosis: Study

Younger Singaporeans are more likely to perceive cannabis as not harmful due to its portrayal in Western media. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - More potent cannabis can lead to a higher chance of addiction and psychosis, a recent review of studies has found.

Commenting on the study in a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 27), Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said many young people he spoke to have misguided notions about cannabis, also known as marijuana.

This is largely influenced by the way drug consumption is portrayed in the Western media, he said.

Said Associate Professor Faishal: "While attending anti-drug events, I've met recovering addicts who told me they started down the slippery slope of addiction because they had overestimated their self-control over drug use."

Prof Faishal noted that the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal on Monday, confirms prior research showing that drugs can cause addiction.

The systematic review of earlier studies conducted around the world compared people who used products with lower concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - the part of marijuana that makes people feel high - with those who used higher THC concentrations.

Said Prof Faishal: "It is important to equip our youth with the relevant information so that they can learn about the harmful effects of drugs, and adopt a drug-free lifestyle."

According to survey findings released in March involving more than 1,000 Singapore residents, conducted by public opinion company YouGov in collaboration with The Straits Times, younger Singaporeans are more likely to perceive cannabis, or weed, as not harmful and to have considered using controlled substances or prescription drugs without a prescription than their elders.

Cannabis has been legalised in countries such as Canada and Mexico, and more countries in South-East Asia, such as Thailand, have joined the list.

Malaysia allowed cannabis use for medicinal purposes last year. In June, Thailand removed cannabis from its narcotics list, though the public smoking of marijuana remains illegal.

But some countries, including Singapore, remain hesitant about legalising the drug.

On July 20, Indonesia's constitutional court rejected a judicial review of the country's narcotics laws, halting a bid to legalise marijuana for medicinal use.

In an interview on OneFM 91.3 on the same day, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said while Singapore's correction system has been remodelled to help drug abusers kick the habit rather than treat them as criminals, its laws remain very strict against people who produce and traffic drugs.

For instance, any person found guilty of trafficking more than 500g of cannabis may face the mandatory death penalty.

This has substantially reduced the amount of drugs flowing into Singapore, said Mr Shanmugam.

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