Cannabis: Will kippers become more dangerous?

A little smoking weed does not hurt, it is often said. But how safe is that?

Hardly any plant polarises as much as cannabis, Put simply, one side emphasizes the alleviating effect on pain patients and patients, as well as the low harmfulness – and demonstrates with colorful signs of legalization. The other side argues with possible drug addiction and strict protection of minors against it. And as more and more countries opt for a regulated hemp-based market, new scientific research appears fueling the debate over benefits and harms. Unfortunately, often not constructive, because many studies on hashish and marijuana use are questionable.

Only at the beginning of the week should a study have alarmed many. According to this, changes in the brain can occur in 14-year-olds even after one-off smoking. That sounds disconcerting – but what does it mean that the brain scans of some of these adolescents were conspicuous? Unfortunately nobody knows that exactly. Because not only was only a small group of 46 adolescents examined – the research team also asked them only about their cannabis use (Journal of Neuroscience: Orr et al., 2018). Whether the subjects and subjects also others drugs The study authors did not raise the question of how alcohol tried. Even drug tests they did not attract. What remains is a lot of excitement and uncertainty: was there any damage at all (slightly enlarged brain regions do not necessarily prove this) and if so, what triggered them?

This example shows a fundamental problem: Cannabis has not been sufficiently researched; neither in terms of its therapeutic benefits nor the potential dangers of smoking. This is also because the use of hemp has only been regulated for about a decade in the United States in some federal states. There, people are also allowed to smoke or steam cannabis just for relaxation or fun, or to mix parts of the plant into food or drinks. Many countries have followed the example of a regulated market for the drug, and some were even earlier.

Many studies with many problems

However, science and medicine have so far had little interest in hemp, and the status as an illegal psychoactive substance made it difficult to gather knowledge about the plant. How uncertain the data on hemp is is impressively confirmed by an analysis of most of the relevant studies over the past 20 years, published by the National Academy of Sciences in the USA (National Academy of Sciences, 2017). Summing up over many chapters, the conclusion is that what is known about hemp is usually uncertain, not sufficiently substantiated, questionable or simply unknown.

The popularity of cannabis does not seem to have much of an impact – regardless of whether it's being illegally consumed or legally slaughtered. With consequences that are difficult to assess. So has the composition of hash and marijuana changed significantly over the years. The two main active ingredients of cannabis flowers are THC and CBD. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) causes intoxication in which it binds to receptors in nerve cells and influences their signal transduction. CBD (cannabidiol), on the other hand, is thought to relieve pain and relieve anxiety, and is therefore also found in some medicines (Booz, 2011).

While the active ingredients in medical cannabis balance, THC levels in black market products have doubled over the past decade, at least in most of Europe. A research team from the University of Bath and King's College London found out about drugs seized by the police. (Addiction: Freeman et al., 2016) By contrast, CBD levels have declined – that is, products are becoming increasingly potent. According to the research team from London, users have also not adapted their consumption behavior to the more potent cannabis. Instead, they are smoking similar amounts as before.

"Breeders and traders are keen that their substance pops neatly, because that's what people buy," says Heino Stöver, director of the Institute for Addiction Research in Frankfurt. A development that should employ search experts, prevention researchers and physicians. Especially for young people, possible damages are more likely than among adults. The risk for
Developmental and personality disorders and mental illnesses that sometimes no longer heal
let, is higher at a young age (PNAS: Meier et al., 2012). At the age of twelve or fourteen, the brain is far from fully developed.