Examining the profile of high-potency cannabis and its association with severity of cannabis dependence

T P Freeman, A R Winstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Cannabis use is decreasing in England and Wales, while demand for cannabis treatment in addiction services continues to rise. This could be partly due to an increased availability of high-potency cannabis.

METHOD: Adults residing in the UK were questioned about their drug use, including three types of cannabis (high potency: skunk; low potency: other grass, resin). Cannabis types were profiled and examined for possible associations between frequency of use and (i) cannabis dependence, (ii) cannabis-related concerns.

RESULTS: Frequent use of high-potency cannabis predicted a greater severity of dependence [days of skunk use per month: b = 0.254, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.161-0.357, p < 0.001] and this effect became stronger as age decreased (b = -0.006, 95% CI -0.010 to -0.002, p = 0.004). By contrast, use of low-potency cannabis was not associated with dependence (days of other grass use per month: b = 0.020, 95% CI -0.029 to 0.070, p = 0.436; days of resin use per month: b = 0.025, 95% CI -0.019 to 0.067, p = 0.245). Frequency of cannabis use (all types) did not predict severity of cannabis-related concerns. High-potency cannabis was clearly distinct from low-potency varieties by its marked effects on memory and paranoia. It also produced the best high, was preferred, and most available.

CONCLUSIONS: High-potency cannabis use is associated with an increased severity of dependence, especially in young people. Its profile is strongly defined by negative effects (memory, paranoia), but also positive characteristics (best high, preferred type), which may be important when considering clinical or public health interventions focusing on cannabis potency.

LanguageEnglish
Pages3181-3189
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume45
Issue number15
Early online date27 Jul 2015
DOIs
StatusPublished - Nov 2015

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Marijuana Abuse
Cannabis
Mephitidae
Confidence Intervals
Paranoid Disorders
Poaceae
Wales
England

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Cannabis/adverse effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse/classification
  • Plant Preparations/adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Cite this

Examining the profile of high-potency cannabis and its association with severity of cannabis dependence. / Freeman, T P; Winstock, A R.

In: Psychological Medicine, Vol. 45, No. 15, 11.2015, p. 3181-3189.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "BACKGROUND: Cannabis use is decreasing in England and Wales, while demand for cannabis treatment in addiction services continues to rise. This could be partly due to an increased availability of high-potency cannabis.METHOD: Adults residing in the UK were questioned about their drug use, including three types of cannabis (high potency: skunk; low potency: other grass, resin). Cannabis types were profiled and examined for possible associations between frequency of use and (i) cannabis dependence, (ii) cannabis-related concerns.RESULTS: Frequent use of high-potency cannabis predicted a greater severity of dependence [days of skunk use per month: b = 0.254, 95{\%} confidence interval (CI) 0.161-0.357, p < 0.001] and this effect became stronger as age decreased (b = -0.006, 95{\%} CI -0.010 to -0.002, p = 0.004). By contrast, use of low-potency cannabis was not associated with dependence (days of other grass use per month: b = 0.020, 95{\%} CI -0.029 to 0.070, p = 0.436; days of resin use per month: b = 0.025, 95{\%} CI -0.019 to 0.067, p = 0.245). Frequency of cannabis use (all types) did not predict severity of cannabis-related concerns. High-potency cannabis was clearly distinct from low-potency varieties by its marked effects on memory and paranoia. It also produced the best high, was preferred, and most available.CONCLUSIONS: High-potency cannabis use is associated with an increased severity of dependence, especially in young people. Its profile is strongly defined by negative effects (memory, paranoia), but also positive characteristics (best high, preferred type), which may be important when considering clinical or public health interventions focusing on cannabis potency.",
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N2 - BACKGROUND: Cannabis use is decreasing in England and Wales, while demand for cannabis treatment in addiction services continues to rise. This could be partly due to an increased availability of high-potency cannabis.METHOD: Adults residing in the UK were questioned about their drug use, including three types of cannabis (high potency: skunk; low potency: other grass, resin). Cannabis types were profiled and examined for possible associations between frequency of use and (i) cannabis dependence, (ii) cannabis-related concerns.RESULTS: Frequent use of high-potency cannabis predicted a greater severity of dependence [days of skunk use per month: b = 0.254, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.161-0.357, p < 0.001] and this effect became stronger as age decreased (b = -0.006, 95% CI -0.010 to -0.002, p = 0.004). By contrast, use of low-potency cannabis was not associated with dependence (days of other grass use per month: b = 0.020, 95% CI -0.029 to 0.070, p = 0.436; days of resin use per month: b = 0.025, 95% CI -0.019 to 0.067, p = 0.245). Frequency of cannabis use (all types) did not predict severity of cannabis-related concerns. High-potency cannabis was clearly distinct from low-potency varieties by its marked effects on memory and paranoia. It also produced the best high, was preferred, and most available.CONCLUSIONS: High-potency cannabis use is associated with an increased severity of dependence, especially in young people. Its profile is strongly defined by negative effects (memory, paranoia), but also positive characteristics (best high, preferred type), which may be important when considering clinical or public health interventions focusing on cannabis potency.

AB - BACKGROUND: Cannabis use is decreasing in England and Wales, while demand for cannabis treatment in addiction services continues to rise. This could be partly due to an increased availability of high-potency cannabis.METHOD: Adults residing in the UK were questioned about their drug use, including three types of cannabis (high potency: skunk; low potency: other grass, resin). Cannabis types were profiled and examined for possible associations between frequency of use and (i) cannabis dependence, (ii) cannabis-related concerns.RESULTS: Frequent use of high-potency cannabis predicted a greater severity of dependence [days of skunk use per month: b = 0.254, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.161-0.357, p < 0.001] and this effect became stronger as age decreased (b = -0.006, 95% CI -0.010 to -0.002, p = 0.004). By contrast, use of low-potency cannabis was not associated with dependence (days of other grass use per month: b = 0.020, 95% CI -0.029 to 0.070, p = 0.436; days of resin use per month: b = 0.025, 95% CI -0.019 to 0.067, p = 0.245). Frequency of cannabis use (all types) did not predict severity of cannabis-related concerns. High-potency cannabis was clearly distinct from low-potency varieties by its marked effects on memory and paranoia. It also produced the best high, was preferred, and most available.CONCLUSIONS: High-potency cannabis use is associated with an increased severity of dependence, especially in young people. Its profile is strongly defined by negative effects (memory, paranoia), but also positive characteristics (best high, preferred type), which may be important when considering clinical or public health interventions focusing on cannabis potency.

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KW - Severity of Illness Index

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