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People with ADHD, can be attracted to marijuana, because they believe it helps them better manage symptoms of anxiety, without the prescription medication. ADHD brains have lower levels of dopamine, thus the over-release of dopamine created by marijuana, will appear to compensate the shortfall.

A 2018 article in the Guardian Newspaper stated that almost 75,000 children, aged between six and 17, had received ADHD drugs in England, in 2017/18. Fewer than one in five, or 18%, of these prescriptions, were for girls.

Using cannabis impairs areas of the brain that are also uniquely impaired by ADHD. According to ADHD specialist publication, ADDITUDE, marijuana’s negative effects are most harmful to developing brains. Many studies show that usage earlier in life, particularly before the age of 25, predicts worse outcomes.

In February 2023, 19year old Pietro Addis was acquitted of murdering his 69year old grandmother, Sue Addis, but convicted of her manslaughter, at Lewes Crown Court.

Mr Addis, who was 17 at the time of the killing, stabbed his grandmother 17 times. It was reported that each wound, was so severe, that any one of them could have been life-threatening.

In 2018, after being diagnosed with ADHD, Mr Addis was prescribed the drug Elvanse. A potential side effect of Elvanse is anxiety. Marijuana, as well as other drugs, tend to amplify the side effects of the pharmaceuticals.

Whilst the drug appeared to be helping him, in 2019 he began using marijuana, becoming a heavy user.

In emails from the victim to Mr Addis’ doctor, she expressed concerns about his behaviour as a result of taking both Elvanse and marijuana together.

Mr Addis’ defence team argued that he had been suffering from paranoia and anxiety.

Research published in the March 2019 issue of the Lancet Psychiatry, found that smoking the more potent, 'skunk-like' cannabis, increases your risk of serious mental illness.

They estimate around one in 10 new cases of psychosis, may be associated with strong cannabis, based on their study of European cities and towns.

They raised more concerns that in London and Amsterdam, where most of the cannabis that is sold is very strong, the risks could be much higher.

Anthony Hegarty MSc

Drugs: The Dark Side - educating young people about the dangers of drugs.

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