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Cannabis As Addictive As Heroin, Major New Study Finds


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Research conducted over 20 years links long-term cannabis use with mental illness, lower academic attainment and lower birth-weight of children
A man smoking marijuana  Photo: Alamy

By Telegraph reporter

12:17AM BST 07 Oct 2014


Cannabis can be as addictive as heroin or alcohol, causes mental health problems and can lead to hard drug use, according to a major new study led by a leading British expert on addiction.

The research, conducted over 20 years by Professor Wayne Hall, an adviser to the World Health Organisation, links use of cannabis to a wide range of harmful side-effects, from mental illness to lower academic attainment to impaired driving ability.

Smoking the class-'B' drug while pregnant is linked with reduced birth weights, while long-term use can cause cancer, bronchitis and heart attacks, according to the paper.

Prof Hall, a leading expert in addiction at King's College, London, also found that:

:: One in six teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis become dependent on it, as are one in ten regular adult users;

:: Cannabis doubles the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, with withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite and depression;

:: Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, with the risk heightened yet further if you have had a drink;

:: As many teenagers now smoke cannabis as cigarettes.

The Daily Mail quoted Prof Hall as saying: "If cannabis is not addictive, then neither is heroin or alcohol.

"It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin. We just don't know how to do it."

Less than half of users stay off the drug for six months or more following treatment, Prof Hall found.

Despite the fact that no cannabis user had died from an overdose, long-term use could be seriously damaging to mental health.

"The important point I am trying to make," Prof Hall writes, "is that people can get into difficulties with cannabis use, particularly if they get into daily use over a long period.

"There is no doubt that heavy users experience a withdrawal syndrome as with alcohol and heroin.

"Rates of recovery from cannabis dependence among those seeking treatment are similar to those for alcohol."

Drugs campaigners said the study showed that heavy cannabis use by teenagers amounted to them playing "Russian roulette" with their mental health.

Mark Winstanley, of the Rethink Mental Illness charity, also called for the Government to focus on educating young people about the dangers, rather than classifying and then reclassifying the drug, as the last Government did.

Mr Winstanley told the Mail: "Too often cannabis is wrongly seen as a safe drug, but as this review shows, there is a clear link with psychosis and schizophrenia, especially for teenagers.

"The common view that smoking cannabis is nothing to get worked up about needs to be challenged more effectively. Instead of classifying and reclassifying, Government time and money would be much better spent on educating young people about how smoking cannabis is essentially playing a very real game of Russian Roulette with your mental health."

Tony Blair's government relaxed the law on cannabis, reclassifying it from class 'B' to 'C' in 2004. This was reversed after Gordon Brown entered Downing Street in 2007.


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That is why kids shouldnt use mmj they dont even have a brain yet, people of legal age dont get addicted to mj, they may have a physical addiction and think they cant live w/o it, but lock them in a room and make sure they get food and water and they will not go thru withdraw, I have quit smoking many times w/o any ill effects, I have quit drinking w/o any ill effects, I have quit methadone and xanax and wound up in I.C.U and almost died!  That is a fact, I have gone w/o sex, i have gone w/o coffee, cigs, id have to say cigs were not fun, but I didnt wind up in I.c.u!


Kids who smoke mj and like it will find other ways to get high just because they are stupid kids, my own kid says she cant live w/o mj, she has no money no job no nothing but a good roof and food and family that love her, do you think I would give her mj becuase she says she cant live w/o it? hahahahaha, I laugh at her, a kid will spend their every waking minute trying to find a way to get money for tobaco and mj, they dont care about anything else, their parents spoil them and allow that to happen, my daughter just came back from a big life learning experience, she thought her boy friend loved her, the very day we took her to the emergency room to find out she had phenomia she left with her so called love of her life and bussed all the way to california to work in carnivals (im so proud NOT)  he taught her to lie cheat and steel, and than he found a new girl, wow I didnt see that coming (if you beleive that i have a bridge for sale) now she is back home, when she first got here she was sleeping till 1 pm and than going around with kids still in school and smoking mj, she now has strep throat or a staph infection, I woke her the other morning after being kept up all night from her major whooping cough sound and told her to start acting like an adult, I told her when I get home today you had better of been to a dr. or have an appt asap, and I told her she will no longer be in bed till 1pm, and she would be getting up the same time as her brother and doing something productive, I said she has to take some online classes for college credits and keep the house spotless and than and only than she can go with her friends and find mj, and not untill she does what I say,,,,,I also had to tell her there will be no friends allowed in this house during school hrs, (she is 19 and still hangs with 16 yr olds) we will not be the hang out house for kids skipping school, and you need to find friends your own age, I didnt even tell her she needs to find a job like my parents did to me when I was 16 yrs old and made the mistake of quiting school, I got my g.e.d after filling out my first job app and had to say I only went to school thru 9th grade!


When I was 16  yrs old I was in the back seat of a friends ford pinto when he ran a stop sign and nailed another car, all I could think of is the gas tank was going to explode, I got out as fast as I could, when I put my left foot on the ground I collapsed and crawled to the curb away from the car, I broke my ankle, both bones, it took 2 yrs in and out of casts before I didnt have to wear one any longer, every time my dr. took my cast off and said I could work ( yea work at 16) I wound up back to see him in a few days only to be put on meds to reduce the swelling so he could put another cast on, I actualy had my own car ins and was collecting loss of wages at 16 yrs old!  at 18 I stood in very very long lines at the many unemployment offices we had in the 70's, I only collected one time, I have never called marvin and I only had one yr since I was 15 that I did not pay taxes, you can see all of that when filing for ssi or ssdi!  Kids who are 19 around here are still mooching off of their parents, and trying to get their b.f's to move into their parents house,,,,,,,,,sorry not this house, I will take care of my own but not some one elses!


bottom line mj is not adictive, and kids should not be allowed to use it,...unless it is medical and helps like it does for many young kids with seizures and other things that mm most def helps!



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I hear the armed forces can influence our children in the same way the circus did yours.  there are so many bad elements being driven into their thoughts daily now in the information overload. People who attack children often get released quickly to reoffend. I've spoken to kids who see the same thing and told me its obvious the "grown ups just don't care about us. They shut down our schools, steal us, exploit us, throw us in jail to collect external funding, assign criminal records at young ages, offer little help when we reach out, and are tossing us unto into dumpsters, burned, drowned and abused in unspeakable ways, by our own parents".   The picture is clear to me as well, and they have seen the future. Villages used to protect and cherish their children, not chain them up and starve them while using them for another check.

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Less than half of the users stay off the drug for 6 mos. or more after treatment?  Maybe because treatment was mandated and they realized it wasn't a problem staying off it for a couple months and THEY LIKED IT!  I can see that he is right in a lot of what he says, it's just that his interpretations are wrong.

Like withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, loss of apatite and depression.  Those are things that most people in our society have and seems to be more of the norm.  I could see them mistaking having to deal with the reality of a lot of people's life situation as withdrawal if not able to relax and see that certain things don't matter as much as we're led to believe by the news, politicians, etc.etc.  Loss of apatite, well don't you have to be stoned to eat most of that processed crap out there?

As for psychosis and schizophrenia, I don't notice that in any of my long term smoker friends but maybe the link he talks about is that these people may be trying to alleviate symptoms as I've read that CBD is a good antipsychotic/schizophrenia. So there may be a link but he's probably misinterpreting it.

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It is a mistake to assume the medical/biological claims made by mj users based on personal use of the drug constitutes valid scientific research data.  Anyone who knows about how data is collected and analyzed by professional researchers that forms the basis for medical conclusions about a drug would refrain from making their own claims generalized to the entire population based on personal experience.  Personal data simply doesn't count as valid evidence that can be generalized to the entire population.  Personal use of mj does not make a person a qualified professional expert on its public health effects, though many users delude themselves into thinking so.  


Anyone who is educated enough to know how to research the professional scientific literature about mj will discover that mj can indeed be addictive.  It is a common myth that cannabis is not addictive whatsoever.  If addiction is defined as the inability to control one's use of a drug so that harms results that diminishes the quality of one's life, then mj can clearly be addictive.  The question is not whether or not it can be addictive, the proper question is how severe is addiction to it compared to other common drugs.  The data clearly indicates its far less severe than many common addictive substances.  


Another fact many self-proclaimed experts about mj are ignorant of concerns a crucial distinction between addiction and dependence.  They are not the same.  Dependence does not imply addiction though addiction does imply dependence.   A person needs to keep this distinction in mind when reading research reports about mj.


Personal use of mj does not make anyone a scientific expert regarding its medical benefits and harms, despite pretensions otherwise.  Only the scientific data counts.  Nothing else.  In my experience of posts on this forum, it is a serious error to assume all information here posted by mj users accurately reflects the scientific consensus. 

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Cannabis addiction is only as bad as the person who is addicted makes it out to be. If a headache and a sore neck for a couple days equates to 'I'm Dying' to a weak minded person, then they are so darn addicted it must be like heroin. I'm sure a diligent study operator who worries about his job security can find weak minded cannabis users among us who are dying of withdraw headaches for a few days. 

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Aren't those who use cannabis regularly and have over several decades the raw data?

From my personal experience cannabis is not addictive.

Possibly there is short periods of psychological dependency as in "geesh, I wish I had

some cannabis" and there is none available.  I have been through enough 'dry spells'

to know dam well I am not addicted to weed.

Edited by imiubu
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Are these studiea done with an anticipated End result?

If so, such studies can be tilted from the start.

Upon the subject of personal use.

I have used cannabis on and off for over 30 years.

I have quit for long periods (8 years) and for short periods as well.

I have Never had Withdrawal symptoms.

Cocaine addiction Withdrawal affirmative.

Tobacco addiction Withdrawal affirmative

Cannabis use stoppage; Zero withdrawal symptoms.


Your results may vary..

However most have the same results..


They Are not the same..

I cannot be convinced otherwise...

Too many of us long time drug users who have had Real Withdrawal..

Wanting to smoke a joint is Not Withdrawal!

Shaking in a corner sweating and crying, now that's withdrawal..

But of course someone wanting to smoke a joint could be a withdrawal symptom for someone who has never been addicted to a drug.

You know the kind where you spend your house payment, car payment, lose said house,( become homeless).lose said new Mustang, spent child care funds.

Every freaking penny you could scratch together!!

That is what I consider addiction..

Of course,

I Have Been An Addict..

Don't smoke cigs, don't snort Coke they are dangerous for me. Because I am an addict.

Your results and opinions may vary if you aren't an addict.

Edited by ilynnboy
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  • 2 weeks later...

Opiates change the bodies chemistry until your not whole, unless the opiates that are leaving the body, are replaced with the same amount you've adjusted to. Cannabis is synergistic and works with your body, not against it. Why the need to sensationalize their story, by comparing it to heroin? Why not just compare it to the profit sector of big pharma (opiates). Bob Saget said it best in Half Baked. "when was the last time you ****** **** for a bag of weed.".

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Meanwhile at the Senate Caucus on Heroin and Prescription drug abuse...

Check out the Classic opiate face coming from the guy behind Dr Nora Vokel @1:38:00


Other highlights include Senator Chuck Grassley (who sounded drunk, slurring his words, and unable to pronounce phentonyl @1:08:00) bringing up the marijuana gateway theory to Dr Vokel who has been vocal in her dissaproval of cannabis, in the past.


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