Researchers from Canada have analysed data from about 23,000 cannabis users and concluded it’s actually much more addictive than previously thought. The team from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, cite psychological and biological issues that are often overlooked when withdrawing from frequent usage. Specifically, they say, anxiety, anger and depression are the main problems when coming off the drug. Their claim contradicts lobbyists around the world who state that cannabis is a non-addictive substance and say laws should be relaxed.

The Canadian researchers came to their conclusion after analysing data from 47 different research papers to create a ‘meta analysis’ of cannabis and how easy it is to come off using the drug.

They found that ‘cannabis withdrawal syndrome’ (CWS) affects almost half of regular cannabis users. A CWS sufferer was described as someone who has at least three major symptoms, which develop within 7 days of giving up the drug. “Because many CWS criteria are depression or anxiety symptoms, regular users may seek cannabis to obtain short-term symptom relief, unaware that this use could perpetuate a longer-term withdrawal problem”, said the researchers. The team say that withdrawing from the drug creates many problems, such as irritability, anger, anxiety, sleep disturbance, aggression, restlessness, depression, headaches, sweating and nausea.

Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence of CWS and should consider screening for it, the authors wrote in their paper. In particular, they claim that those who are at greater risk should be counselled and provided support when reducing their use of cannabis. Doctors are also advised to seriously consider the use of cannabis amongst those with existing mental health problems due to the fact that depression can be a symptom of withdrawal syndrome.

In the UK, cannabis is designated as a Class B drug and anyone caught with it could face up to 5 years in prison. However, some MPs believe cannabis could be legal in the UK within 5 years.

Drug testing cannabis

Cannabis is highly detectable and can be found in urine, saliva, hair as well as nail clipping samples. AlphaBiolabs’ range of tests for cannabis vary in their windows of detection so recent or chronic use can be established. In addition, ingestion as opposed to environmental exposure can be discerned.

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