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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
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If you would like to comment on the "Cannabis: what teenagers need to know" programme, first broadcast on Sunday, 19 June 2005, please click here to find the e-mail form.

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I'd like to express my thanks to you for tonight's Panorama programme about teenagers and cannabis. Last week my 13-year old son smoked cannabis for the 2nd time. we spoke to him and told him of all the effects and consequences of smoking the drug but for us the programme couldn't have come at a better time - it is reinforcing what we told our son. Many, many thanks!
Leigh Robertson, UK

An interesting programme up to a point, but I'm still a little wary of the strength of the evidence presented. It's all too reminiscent of the Autism/MMR scare - a number of doctors with a drum to beat, and anecdotes from parents saying "my son was a normal healthy boy until..."

There's still no definitive answer to the question "does cannabis increase the risk of psychosis, or is it that people with a predisposition to psychosis are more likely to smoke?"
James, Maldon, England

I'm a 16-year-old student just reaching the end of my exams. I have never tried cannabis, but I've been around some of my friends while they were smoking it. They tried to tempt me, but the lucky combination of them being good people and me having a strong personality kept me from trying it. The bad news is that the end of the exams is in sight, with a long summer holiday. Since watching the Panorama program on cannabis I am even clearer in my mind that I will never try it, and I will certainly talk to my friends about it even if I don't try to persuade them to stop.
Josh, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK

Will Panorama now follow up the cannabis programme with one based on the effects of another addict drug that is alcohol?
Dell, UK

I watched Panorama about cannabis, and I believed it bought up very good information about effects of cannabis, However, I did also think the view was very one-sided. I'm 17 now and I smoke cannabis most days. Cannabis for me and my friends brings out the best in us, it seems every time we smoke it we can open up more and have much deeper conversations which we would not say if we were not on it. Also it brings me inspiration in music and I've been able to write great songs. However I liked the part where the presenter had a blood test, and I believe it would be very good to have in this country and a free thing where teenagers can arrange this with their doctor.
Luke, United Kingdom

Having just watched your program I found the final conclusion completely pointless as taking too much of anything for prolonged periods in your life could affect you. To say that smoking cannabis heavily in your teenage years could lead to a problem is the same for any substance in today's society.
Grant Beckerleg, Bristol, England

In the end it all comes down to the same old saying, everything in moderation. Those who abuse substances only have themselves to blame whether it be cannabis or a quarter-pounder with cheese.

My experiences of cannabis have been very positive and I much prefer it as an occasional alternative to drinking. I have witnessed so many people become out of control through alcohol but never once through smoking cannabis.
Jamie, South Yorkshire, UK

I enjoyed very much your programme on teenagers and cannabis. I felt it was very clear and informative. I checked out your web site after the programme the information and research into the drug was excellent and information I now have will prove useful in my studies. Thank you.
Ursula Elwell, Darlaston, UK

I heard quite a few figures about percentage increases in psychosis from the experts in the programme. But I didn't hear any numbers about the actual number of people affected. If there were only 10 people affected in the whole country then a 50% increase sounds like quite a lot - but is fairly meaningless unless the number of people involved is known.
Steve Crook, London, England

I'm sitting hear watching your programme on the potential effect of cannabis on the teenage mind. I'm so glad this has been bought to the attention of viewing public in such a well researched way.

From using cannabis from the age of 14 to 24, it is only now that the correlation between usage and a psychotic state has been so strong. I'm now 30 and still have to take anti-depressants to function on an normal level.

I really don't think the extent of these problems are apparent to the majority, especially the young. I also don't believe GPs are able to spot the potential dangers to the growing mind. No one should have to grow up wondering what kind of a person they would have been if they hadn't smoked. Good job. I really hope people take note
Name withheld, UK

A very good show that I felt dealt sensitively with what is a very difficult topic. I have had a series of mental health problems and also smoked cannabis when I was a teenager. I wish I knew then what I know now about how risky cannabis can be to longer-term mental health. When I was younger it seemed to be that cannabis would only affect those who would probably have suffered from poor mental health anyway. what never occurred to me was that you won't know if you are one of the unfortunate few who are susceptible to the influence of cannabis until it is too late.

I feel strongly that more education about the possible side effects and also about what mental illnesses are like to suffer would be of great benefit to young persons and society as a whole. Thank you for highlighting these issues.
Anonymous, Essex

A very thought-provoking programme; though I am always wary of case studies, I found the results of the actual experiments to be extremely interesting - particularly the one using rats linking early cannabis use to increased heroin risk. What I found most intriguing though, is that none of the research seemed to suggest that any harm would be done to you outside of adolescence - does this suggest an 18 year-old age limit, like on alcohol?
Luke, East Midlands

Although the programme was in the main reasonably fair, whilst it pointed out that 'skunk' makes up only 15% of the UK market and is too expensive for young people, it did not point out that young people are smoking 'soap bar' which is only 5-10% cannabis with the rest being made of anything to hand that will bind together, including crushed prescription tablets and in some case, animal faeces. This is what is doing the damage to our young people and it will only be removed by legalising and regulating true cannabis. How can the government hope to prevent young people buying toxin filled 'soap bar' when they have given control of cannabis to criminals? A minimum age can only be set by legalisation, at the moment the minimum age to purchase cannabis is about ten pounds.
Paul Farnhill, Manchester, UK

As a user of cannabis for over twenty years,i found the programme only to be against the legalisation of cannabis You never once highlighted the positive effects of the drug. Another issue is the fact of the lack of teenage knowledge on cannabis and it's true that if you ask a teenager do they know what gets them high and they will say weed. They are teenagers who don't know what thay are smoking and it is them that are giving pot a bad name. I have mental illness and I smoke weed to relax. You sent the wrong message and I am disgusted that you never once in the whole of the programme raised the positive effects of the drug.
Paul Ellis, Workington, West Cumbria

I work with youngsters who use drugs and have noticed how different their attitudes to cannabis use has changed over the years. I have also noticed an increase in the amount they smoke. All too often they are content to smoke all day long and are not motivated to do anything else and this increases directly proportionate to the amount they smoke. The research may not prove conclusively that there is a link but in my opinion you only need to witness the lethargy and inactivity of users in the 14 to 16 age group to make a link.
Christine, Northumberland

I found this a truly enlightening and well researched portrayal of the effects of canabis. I found the arguments of those who have taken the substance ridiculous. Deeper conversations? Surely there are more effective ways of enlightening one's intellect rather than relying on a drug. When the presenter asked one of the boys whether his lacklustre excuses for taking the drug were 'enough' despite the eminent dangers, he simply nodded his head half-heartedly. These individuals clearly realise that their behaviour is selfish, so why not do something about it before it's too late? It angers me to see people misusing their lives, especially when it it is the taxpayer who will have support them if they do suffer from mental illness.
Paul Hart, Kent

I am disappointed that the majority of the comments so far seem to be from people in denial about the validity of the evidence presented in last night's Panorama. My 17-year-old son is currently recovering from cannabis induced psychosis, which literally ripped our whole family's life apart just a month ago. Unless you have seen someone go through this first hand, you cannot begin to imagine how terrifying, and heartbreaking, it is. He has lost his job, his friends, and his self confidence as a result of this. He still gets agitated and paranoid and is clearly still very frightened by what happened to him. Luckily, the prognosis is good, as we got help for him very quickly.

I am in no doubt whatsoever that this was caused by cannabis,and I speak as some who regularly got stoned myself throughout my 20s and 30s. I was not at all concerned when he started to smoke. If I knew then what I know now, it would be a different story. Unfortunately, such is the lure of the pleasant effects than smoking can bring about, users will continue to deny that there could ever be a problem with it until they come face to face with it themselves.I have heard on the local grapevine that many of my son's former friends have given up or cut down as a result of what they've witnessed with him. Clearly, they are not willing to take that chance.
Dawn

As a worker in the field I found the programme was totally spot on in its findings. In the context of working with young people, cannabis is, in my opinion, the most dangerous drug around. It will be the first illicit drug most will try (gateway drug). All heroin users I work with all used cannabis as their first illicit drug and still do. We need to educate our young people about all drugs, using specialised agencies to do this, not teachers, not Police.
K Scott, Glenrothes, Scotland

Watched the programme on Cannabis. Yes any drug - cannabis or even the more socially acceptable but even stronger hypnotic, alchohol are bad for the mind. The mind is composed of pictures of along with all past perceptions, good an bad. Taking drugs scrambles the pictures and when these pictures become more real than the current environment you have a psychotic. It's simple but has nothing to do with the brain.
Brendan, London

I currently work as a mental health practitioner with the Lancashire Early Intervention Team. Your work is informative, succinct and necessary if we are to reduce the incidence of psychosis in, predominantly, young men. The info you highlight supports my anecdotal observations regarding cannabis use and in support of the research, I would argue that underlying vulnerability is increased not only be group conformity and strength of drug but by styles of smoking.
Phil Hunt, Liverpool England

This just shows that it needs to be legalised and regulated for 18s and over so that children and teenagers can't get hold of it as easily as they can from street dealers. We need to remove it from the control of criminal gangs and have controlled outlets for it.
marijuanamat, UK

I would have liked the the programme to have demonstrated two things, the prevalence rate of cannabis Psychosis/year over the last 20 years and the Prevalence rate of Schizophrenia diagnosis/year over the last 20 years. We would then be able to make reasonable judgements about how big this problem is and whether there had been a significant change in prevalence rates. I would also like to know the proportion of people experiencing problematic cannabis use compared to other recreational drugs. With out these issues being addressed the docuementary was clearly biased to make a particular case. The programme makers could have interviewed other "experts" in the field of drug misuse that would have have balanced the debate, but this would have not made for such an alarming piece of "journalism".
Anon, Manchester, UK

As a cannabis researcher, I found the programme interesting, showing that cannabis consumption is not a good idea in some individuals and not before the brain is fully developed. It is important to stress however, that certain researchers like Dr Hurd are funded by the American Institute on drug abuse which has a vested interest in portraying cannabis in the worst possible light for political purposes. The cannabinoid doses used in animal studies usually bear absolutely NO relation to what humans are capable of ingesting! The old chestnut that cannabis will turn you into a raging heroin addict simply is not true!

Also, considering that many more people smoke cannabis now than thirty years ago, you would expect a massive rise in the number of cases of schizophrenia, which simply isn't the case.
Gareth Pryce, London

The basic premise of this programme was to try and establish a link between cannabis and mental health risks. Now If you set out to prove something is so, you most likely will be able to, for example: the programme focused on children smoking the drug: taking ANY recreational pharmaceutical before one is fully grown, is bad for any human being (and also, any rat). Overdoing ANY substance is going to be bad for you at any age. To make an argument against cannabis as a whole from a case this thin and this specific, is either myopic or disingenuous. One might equally prove that excessive use of benzydrine amongst infants can lead to increased incidence of Tourettes syndrome later in life.
Patrick, Dublin, Ireland

I used cannabis heavily from being aged 21-23 but smoked it now and again since I was 16. Now I don't touch it as I was sectioned in 1995 with psychosis. My psychiatrist said I was sensitive to cannabis as I already had been diagnosed with paranoia from an early age. I wouldn't touch it again. I also believe it led me into injecting anphetamines as my dealer did it too. I still have problems of paranoia and flash backs. In short it ruined my life.

I see kids smoking it today and I am a firm believer that is why teenage crime is on the increase along with mental health disorders.

I thought your programme was fantastic, it gave the facts as the medical evidence proves. Cannabis may have it's uses, but that is under a GP's supervision and not lining the dealers pockets who also deal in other illegal activities. Thanks again for a great programme.
Helen, Lancashire, UK.

I didn't see a lot of new material in this programme. While I don¿t doubt the cannabis is damaging I would like a more balanced view of the issue. From all the research I have read the indications seem to point to the fact that occasional recreational use does not pose much of a risk for the vast majority of users. Habitual daily use however, particularly in teenage years, increases the risks of long-term damage significantly. This is exactly what I'd expect with alcohol.
Andy MacDonald, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

I have two brothers who both suffer from psychosis, and have both heavily smoked cannabis until their mid twenties from their late teens. One brother has been sectioned four times because his condition has become so serious. I have always believed that this is not an unhappy coincidence. I myself briefly smoked cannabis in my teens and have seen two former friends who I smoked with sectioned under the mental health act, both in their twenties. This is evidence enough for me and I am sure their are many others who can relate to this.
Anon, West Yorkshire


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