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Potent versions of cannabis can cause brain damage, according to a new study.

Skunk – a name given to some strains of cannabis due to its strong smell – has high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has been linked to psychosis. And a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine claims smoking skunk can triple a person’s risk of experiencing a serious psychotic episode.

The research, carried out by researchers from King’s College London and the Sapienza University of Rome, found skunk weed cannabis could cause serious damage to nerve fibres which link the left and right hand sides of the brain. The more people use the drug, the more likely they are to suffer damage to the brain’s white matter which includes the corpus callosum allowing the two halves of the brain to communicate with each other.

The scientists involved in the study scanned the brains of 56 people who had experienced an episode of psychosis and 43 healthy volunteers.

Strong cannabis poses more of a risk than weaker forms

Dr Tiago Reis Marques, who co-authored the report, said a link was found between the use of strong forms of cannabis and damage to the brain.

He said: “This white matter damage was significantly greater among heavy users of high-potency cannabis than in occasional or low-potency users and was also independent of the ­presence of a psychotic disorder.”

It is not known exactly how this white matter damage will affect the thoughts and behaviour of those affected.

Dr Paola Dazzan, who led the research, said more needed to be done to make people fully aware of the risks of cannabis use.

She said: “As we have suggested ­previously, when assessing cannabis use it is important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used. These details can help­ ­quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness on the type of damage these substances can do.”

Cannabis is just one of the illegal substances which can be detected by drug tests offered by AlphaBiolabs. As well as peace of mind tests for the general public, we carry out workplace drug testing for employers and legal tests which can be used as evidence in court proceedings.