UK: Surge in psychosis after Scots decriminalise cannabis

Scotland is showing the world what happens when cannabis is decriminalised – mental health illness soars, with admissions to psychiatric hospitals increasing by 74 percent. Last year, a record number of patients in Scotland sought hospital treatment for psychiatric disorders blamed on cannabis, including schizophrenia (source: NHS data)

A previous Public Health Scotland report also stated psychiatric admissions for cannabis users doubled between 2014 and 2020. 

“There has been a notable increase in the percentage of [psychiatric hospital] stays attributed to cannabinoids in recent years, increasing from 9% in 2014/15 to 18% in 2019/20.”

Source: The Sunday Post.

So the trend is obvious – decriminalise (or legalise) cannabis, and mental health problems skyrocket. One US study found that cannabis-linked psychosis admissions are 2.5 times higher in areas where the drug has been legalised. Harvard Medical School studied 246 new psychosis patients aged 16 to 35 and found 78 per cent had used cannabis.

Professor Jonathan Chick, of Castle Craig Hospital, a private rehabilitation centre in Peeblesshire, says:

’We do need to worry about the numbers of young people presenting with psychosis and schizophrenia because of it.

‘We’re dealing with both dependence and psychosis. Often, where there has been a second or third psychotic breakdown, there has been hospital or police involvement because of incidents of self-harm or harm to others.

‘These patients have terrifying thoughts. It is a paranoid psychosis where they can’t even go into the street without misinterpreting thoroughly innocuous cues as malevolent. It is a horrible experience.’

He added: ‘In some cases, people have used cannabis for 20 years and got by up till that point – but typically psychosis will occur within the first three to four years. 

‘Sometimes the damage is permanent, in which case the treatment for schizophrenia involves living and working in safer environments and medication.’

Many studies have shown a strong link between cannabis and mental illness. Yet there are still calls to legalise cannabis across all of the UK. Surely this is madness? Fortunately New Zealand voted NO to legalising cannabis in the 2020 referendum. Let’s keep it that way.

Read more here.

Scroll to Top