April 7, 2008

Publication: Irish Daily Mail

Date: Saturday, April 5, 2008 Page: 20

Headline: Cannabis use 'doubles risk of teenage delinquency'

Children who smoke cannabis are twice as likely to get into trouble both in the classroom and outside the school gates. Boys turn to vandalism, theft and fights, while girls misbehave at school, a four year study of thousands of pupils aged between 11 and 15 found. Cannabis users have double the chance of emotional and other problems linked to a higher risk of schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses in later life.

Laura Grant, a sociologist at Queen's University Belfast, studied data tracking the health and habits of almost 4,000 school children in the North. By the age of 15, more than 40 per cent had tried cannatais a fivefold increase on four years earlier, the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Dublin heard. Miss Grant, a PhD student, said: 'These young people are still attending school and are at odds with the general perception of what the typical young person is like who engages in these acts.' Previous studies have shown a clear link between cannabis use in the teenage years and mental illness in later life.

Research completed by leading psychiatrist Professor Robin Murray in 2005 showed that those who smoked the drug regularly at 18 were 1.6 times more likely to suffer serious psychiatric problems, including schizophrenia, by their mid-20s. For those who were regular users at 15, the stakes were even higher, with their risk of mental illness by the age of 26 being 4.5 times greater than normal. It is thought that used during teenage years, the drug may do permanent damage to the developing brain.