The relentless crackdown by security forces on the mainly cannabis-smoking youth in Beirut has had several negative repercussions on the Lebanese society. Young, impressionable teenagers in Beirut are increasingly getting drawn to what is called "synthetic cannabis" or otherwise known as "K2" or "spice." A mixture of herbs is usually laced with cannabinoids such as cannabicyclohexanol. The exact effects of this mixture are still not well understood, but early studies suggest a severe increase in chances of psychosis.
That cannabis and schizophrenia are linked is widely accepted. Several studies suggest the drug can set off short-term psychotic episodes in those already suffering from the condition. Other research, though, does more than this. It shows that people with schizophrenia are twice as likely as others to use cannabis. This leads some to argue that the drug is actually a cause of schizophrenia rather than just a trigger—a line of evidence sometimes employed by those who wish to keep it illegal.
Dr David Potter and GW Pharmaceuticals – a company that is exploring how cannabis could help treat a range of illnesses ranging from epilepsy to cancer – have turned their attention to developing a cannabis-based treatment for psychosis and related illnesses such as schizophrenia. For a drug that is widely seen as a trigger for acute psychotic illness in young users, this at first sounds preposterous. But, as Potter explains, the cannabis plant is much more than just a psychedelic weed. A cannabinoid known as CBD (or cannabidiol) appears to have almost the exact opposite effect.