Majority of Cannabis in the UK is High Potency Skunk

Cannabis UK

An analysis of 995 cannabis samples seized by UK police showed that 94% were high potency. This is an increase from previous reports in 2008 (85%) and 2005 (51%). High potency cannabis or ‘skunk’ contains more THC than other types of cannabis. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, meaning skunk is more likely to produce psychiatric issues in regular users.

What is skunk?

Cannabis sold on the street can be split into 3 main categories; hash, herbal cannabis and high-potency. Hash is made from the resin of the plant, herbal cannabis is made from dried leaves and skunk (high-potency cannabis) is made from unpollinated plants which contain more THC.

Recent Studies

Researchers from King’s College London say users need to be aware that the vast majority of cannabis sold on UK streets is skunk. Dr Marta Di Forti, Medical Research Council clinician scientist at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, said:

“In previous research we have shown that regular users of high-potency cannabis carry the highest risk for psychotic disorders, compared to those who have never used cannabis.

“The increase of high-potency cannabis on the streets poses a significant hazard to users’ mental health, and reduces their ability to choose more benign types.”

Their studies in the past have suggested that skunk users are three times more likely to develop psychosis than non-users. Other mental health issues linked with skunk include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with studies showing users who begin at a young age are even more prone to developing these issues.

The most recent study which was published in the Drug Testing and Analysis journal analysed the varying strength of cannabis between 2005 and 2016. In that time period skunk was the most commonly seized type of cannabis with weaker versions making up as little as 6% of the total seized in 2016. Throughout the time period the strength of skunk remained fairly consistent with the average concentration of THC sitting at around 14%.

Effects of Cannabis

Cannabis is the most commonly abused drug in the UK and can produce a range of side-effects including an increased risk of developing a psychotic illness. Research also shows that 10% of regular cannabis users become dependent on it. For an extensive list of the side-effects of regular cannabis use download our free educational resource:

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