With legalization of recreational cannabis looming, The Schizophrenia Society of Canada wants young people to understand the risks of using the drug.

The society has launched a new website to increase awareness.

‘Cannabis and Psychosis: Explore the Link’ aims to provide comprehensive and accessible information to help youth better understand the issue.

The website states: “Regular cannabis use impacts the development of a chronic life-long psychotic disorder in at risk individuals and is associated with an earlier age of onset of psychosis. However, there is currently no way to identify who is at risk of developing psychosis with cannabis use.”

“Specifically the website is geared towards cannabis and it is saying that there is a link, a definite link, between the use of cannabis and the development of psychosis that could lead to full-blown Schizophrenia,” said Schizophrenia Society of Canada CEO Chris Summerville. “There is 30 years of research, especially in the last 10 years, demonstrating that there is a clear link between cannabis and psychosis.”

Summerville said using marijuana can affect the part of the brain critical to judging, reasoning, and planning.

“When you take THC, which creates the rush from cannabis, that THC interferes with the neurotransmitters and receptors and your endocannabinoid system of your free frontal cortex,” said Summerville. “And that’s especially true during the first 25 years of life.”

“That’s the connection and that’s the connection in research and that’s what most people, even service providers, don’t understand or have not learned about that. The youth brain, or the emerging adult brain, is very vulnerable to cannabis because it’s developing its own cannabis, endocannabinoid system and THC content today is 28 per cent whereas during the hippy movement in the sixties and seventies the THC content was 1.25 per cent.”

“What we’re dealing with today is about 25 times stronger.”

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada said the website was made with support from the Substance Use and Addictions Program of Health Canada and the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addictions.

A note on the website said the opinions and interpretations contained in the site are those of author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.