“New research indicates that even very modest use can cause a lot of damage,” Nils Stenström of the National Institute of Public Health (Statens folkhälsoinstitut), told the TT news agency.
For a number of years, cannabis use among Sweden’s young people has been declining, but the downward trend in use may be coming to an end.
“Unfortunately, there are signs in the most recent studies that this positive trend has been broken. An increased use of cannabis has been reported among both students in grade nine as well as by students in their second year of high school,” said Stenström.
The Institute of Public Health recently completed a review of international research on marijuana carried out through 2008. The report shows that the drug is anything but harmless.
The report, entitled Skador av hasch och marijuana (‘Damages caused by hash and marijuana’), highlights research showing that marijuana can cause schizophrenia and psychosis.
“Cannabis can bring about the onset of latent psychiatric illnesses and the drug can cause serious psychiatric illnesses on its own,” said Stenström, adding that the view of cannabis as a “light” drug is “misleading”.
Several new studies also show that teenagers who only occasionally use marijuana can run into problems.
“The young brain which is under development is especially vulnerable. It shows that cannabis can cause damage which can, among other things, reduce memory capacity and the ability to learn,” said Stenström.