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a young person's guide to


and your mental health


Cannabis is a complicated plant and it has the potential to affect our brain development up until the age of 25.


Based on interviews with Irish psychiatrists, this website considers the risks posed by cannabis to your mental health.

The chemistry

Cannabis is a complicated plant but a lot of the debate around cannabis use is related to 2 particular compounds:

  • THC (Delta-9-TetraHydroCannabinol)

  • CBD (Cannabidiol)

THC is the psychoactive component, and it is what gets you high. However, it can also cause side effects such as psychosis.

CBD is being investigated as a medicine, while a wide range of claims are made, its benefits are currently only proven for a small number of conditions such as certain types of epilepsy.


Watch our experts Dr Bobby Smyth and Dr Aisling O'Neill discuss this in more detail. 



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Changes in strength

The level of THC in the cannabis people are using has risen significantly in recent years. The THC content of marijuana samples seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States has climbed from around 3% in 1980 to 12% in 2012 and recently to 20%. Some cannabis edible products can have 90% THC content. Similar increases have been observed in Ireland.

As a rough comparison, this is the equivalent of changing from drinking a half pint of light beer to a half pint of vodka.