Cannabis linked to learning problems

Cannabis linked to learning problems

The Centre for Addiction Studies has warned of the long-term side effects of consuming cannabis as the number of users in Thailand rapidly rises.

Amid the removal of cannabis from the national narcotics list and the government's efforts to draft cannabis control regulations, Dr Ratsamon Kalayasiri, director of the centre, yesterday warned that 8% of people who consume cannabis will face long-term side effects.

He said these include developing learning and psychological problems, noting that cannabis users are 2.5 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users, and this effect has been found among those who have quit cannabis for a long time.

Dr Ratsamon also cited a survey conducted last year, revealing that as a result of the new cannabis legislation in Thailand, 4.3% of the adult population, or 1.89 million people over the age of 18, have been using cannabis, representing a significant increase from the 1 million Thai cannabis users in 2020.

The higher cannabis consumption rate is also attributed to the increased availability of cannabis products in the market, said Assoc Prof Kuakaroon Krusong, professor of biochemistry at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of science.

She noted the younger generation now has easier access to cannabis-based food and beverages.

According to a test measuring the THC levels of 30 cannabis-based food and drinks at cafes and restaurants in Bangkok, Assoc Prof Kuakaroon said she and her team found some had THC concentrations higher than the legal allowance of no more than 0.015 milligramme of THC, as only 70% of the samples met the government's public health standard.

Asst Prof Srirat Lapyai said cannabis has been mixed in many products sold online such as desserts, beverages, cough syrup and e-cigarettes.

"These products are heavily commercialised as safe and healthy," said Asst Prof Srirat. "So we still need strict regulations to control this."

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