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Changes in cannabis potency and first-time admissions to drug treatment: a 16-year study in the Netherlands

Freeman, TP; van der Pol, P; Kuijpers, W; Wisselink, J; Das, RK; Rigter, S; van Laar, M; ... Lynskey, MT; + view all (2018) Changes in cannabis potency and first-time admissions to drug treatment: a 16-year study in the Netherlands. Psychological Medicine , 48 (14) pp. 2346-2352. 10.1017/S0033291717003877. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The number of people entering specialist drug treatment for cannabis problems has increased considerably in recent years. The reasons for this are unclear, but rising cannabis potency could be a contributing factor. METHODS: Cannabis potency data were obtained from an ongoing monitoring programme in the Netherlands. We analysed concentrations of δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the most popular variety of domestic herbal cannabis sold in each retail outlet (2000-2015). Mixed effects linear regression models examined time-dependent associations between THC and first-time cannabis admissions to specialist drug treatment. Candidate time lags were 0-10 years, based on normative European drug treatment data. RESULTS: THC increased from a mean (95% CI) of 8.62 (7.97-9.27) to 20.38 (19.09-21.67) from 2000 to 2004 and then decreased to 15.31 (14.24-16.38) in 2015. First-time cannabis admissions (per 100 000 inhabitants) rose from 7.08 to 26.36 from 2000 to 2010, and then decreased to 19.82 in 2015. THC was positively associated with treatment entry at lags of 0-9 years, with the strongest association at 5 years, b = 0.370 (0.317-0.424), p < 0.0001. After adjusting for age, sex and non-cannabis drug treatment admissions, these positive associations were attenuated but remained statistically significant at lags of 5-7 years and were again strongest at 5 years, b = 0.082 (0.052-0.111), p < 0.0001. CONCLUSIONS: In this 16-year observational study, we found positive time-dependent associations between changes in cannabis potency and first-time cannabis admissions to drug treatment. These associations are biologically plausible, but their strength after adjustment suggests that other factors are also important.

Type: Article
Title: Changes in cannabis potency and first-time admissions to drug treatment: a 16-year study in the Netherlands
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291717003877
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291717003877
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, addiction, cannabis, drug treatment, mental health, potency, psychosis
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10055997
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