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Study finds 'skunk' linked to 25% of psychosis cases

A powerful 'skunk-like' form of cannabis is associated with a quarter of new cases of psychosis, according to a new study.

A six-year study by researchers at King's College London found that the potent form of the Class B drug increased the risk for daily users by five - and tripled the risk even for casual users.

The study did not find any such link for the milder form of cannabis, known as hash.

The research followed 800 people aged between 18 and 65 in south London, including 410 who had suffered psychosis and 370 healthy patients.

Lead author on the project, Dr Marta Di Forti, called for a "clear public message" on the use of cannabis, based on the findings.

The results show that psychosis risk in cannabis users depends on both the frequency of use and cannabis potency. The use of hash was not associated with increased risk of psychosis.

As with smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol you need a clear public message.

When a GP or psychiatrist asks if a patient uses cannabis it's not helpful; it's like asking whether someone drinks. As with alcohol, the relevant questions are how often and what type of cannabis. This gives more information about whether the user is at risk of mental health problems. Awareness needs to increase for this to happen.

– Dr Marta Di Forti, lead author

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Study: Cannabis linked to 'potentially lethal' damage

Cannabis smoking could lead to lethal heart damage, a study suggests. Credit: PA

Smoking cannabis can cause potentially lethal damage to the heart and arteries of young and middle-aged adults, a study has found.

Researchers in France who looked at almost 2,000 patients with medical problems related to cannabis use identified 35 serious instances of cardiovascular complications.

Twenty heart attacks were recorded, as well as 10 cases involving arteries in the limbs, and three affecting blood vessels in the brain. Nine patients, around a quarter of the total, died.

Most of the patients in the study - published in the Journal of the American Heart Association - were male, with an average age of 34.3 years.

Landmark prosecution sees bong seller convicted

The prosecution is the first of its kind in the UK. Credit: SWNS

A shop owner has been convicted of selling items he knew would be used for drug taking in a landmark prosecution.

Hassan Abbas, 33, ran the Fantasia shop in Leeds which sold bongs, plastic bags and grinders all decorated with cannabis leaf designs.

While the items themselves are not illegal, a prosecutor argued that staff knew the products would be used for taking marijuana.

Abbas was found guilty of supplying articles used to administer or prepare controlled drugs. He was fined £800.

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Uruguay votes to legalise marijuana trade

Uruguay has become the first country to legalise the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana.

A government-sponsored bill approved by 16-13 votes in the Senate provides for regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals in the small South American nation.

The new laws in Uruguay will come into force in 120 days. Credit: Press Association

Cannabis consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) each month from licensed pharmacies, as long as they are Uruguayan residents over the age of 18 and registered on a government database that will monitor their purchases.

When the law is implemented in 120 days, Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes a year, or as much as 480 grams (about 17 ounces), and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.

Registered drug users should be able to start buying marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies in April.

Previously the use of marijuana was legal in Uruguay but the cultivation and selling the drug was not.

Cannabis farm found in a Cold War nuclear bunker

A sophisticated underground cannabis farm has been found hidden inside a network of tunnels used as a nuclear bunker during the Cold War.

Drakelow Tunnels complex Credit: Google Images

West Mercia Police said officers had seized more than 400 cannabis plants, worth around £650,000, from the Drakelow Tunnels in Worcestershire .

A 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and being concerned in the production and supply of controlled drugs, police said.

Hydroponic equipment, including heating, lighting and ventilation fans was also discovered in the underground complex, which dates back to the Second World War.

The 285,000 sq ft network of tunnels was earmarked by the Home Office as a regional seat of government in the event of a nuclear attack in late 1950s.

Vicky Pryce urges 'different approach' over drugs

Vicky Pryce, who was jailed for swapping speeding points with ex-husband Chris Huhne, has called for a "different approach" to tackle drug-related crime - although she fell short of calling for decriminalisation.

Ms Pryce, who was speaking at an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote her new book Prisonomics, said that helping addicts stay off drugs was better than imprisonment.

Vicky Pryce called for a 'different approach' to tackle drug-related crime. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

She told the audience: "On the decriminalisation of drugs ... evidence-based policy, absolutely. Obviously the decriminalisation of some types of drugs would help.

"Prison has given them nothing at all to help them - quite the opposite. So a different type of approach to people taking drugs is the thing that we absolutely need."

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