People outside the United Kingdom might not be familiar with the term ‘skunk’. No, we are not talking about that cat-sized American mammal; we are referring to skunk ‘weed’.
Skunk is basically a variety of cannabis that contains over 14% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive chemical in cannabis that gets one high every time it is consumed
The drug is widely available across Britain and has been a center of controversy of late, ever since the speculation of legalizing recreational cannabis began making rounds in the UK.
Here is everything that you should know about this potent form of cannabis:
History & Origin
Although the drug is popular in Britain, it is believed to have originated in the United States by crossing two cannabis plants.
For the people in the UK, the term skunk refers to any form of weed that is high in THC; however, in the latter country, most consider skunk ‘weed’ as some form of cannabis strains that came into being in the 1970s.
In early 70s, growers in the USA started to crossbreed short, mountain hashish strains – mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan – with the tall, potent Sativa cannabis strains from Central and South America, and strains from tropical Asia. These could be grown outdoors in marginal climates in the US such as northern California, in greenhouses in the Netherlands, and indoors under HID lamps.
Originally, skunk cannabis strains were infamous for having a pungent smell. Hence the word ‘skunky’, which is another term used for anything stinky, is quite befitting.
How skunk affects the brain
The THC in skunk reportedly damages an area of the brain, named the corpus callosum, which is the tract that carries signals between the brain’s left and right sides. As a result, the brain becomes less efficient, which might lead to mental illnesses and psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations.
Skunk and Psychosis
Time and again, media reports have suggested that consumption of skunk is the primary cause of psychosis – a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality – in the UK, owing to its high THC.
According to a recent study conducted at eleven sites across countries in Europe, the likelihood of developing schizophrenia becomes five-fold if skunk is consumed daily.
Despite being illegal, the drug is widely and easily available across the country and the situation is worsening as more teens and children are now buying the stuff from obscure dealers on social media websites and apps.
Other side-effects of skunk
Consuming skunk will affect you in a similar way as smoking low-potency cannabis does, but the effects would be quicker and stronger. In other words, you will remain high for a longer period of time. Alteration of time and perception, relaxation, talkativeness, “the munchies”, anxiety, nervousness, and mild paranoia are other common ‘side-effects’.
According to a study led by Professor Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, 10% of the adult population in the UK is prone to paranoid thoughts or grandiose ideas; and among those who smoke cannabis regularly, half may land into psychotic delusions and end up requiring treatment.
What’s more worrisome is the fact that in the modern-day, children as young as nine – whose brains are still developing – fall prey to the drug. Thus, kids are at more risk of developing psychosis as compared to adults with developed brains.
What you should do as a parent
Latest stats from the National Health Service (NHS) indicate that more than 3,400 patients under the age of 19 were admitted to hospitals due to mental and behavioral illnesses brought on by cannabis in 2018.
The question that arises here is that how come so many teens got access to stuff like skunk, so easily? The answer, as stated earlier, is social media.
Dealers are enticing teens, either directly or indirectly, via social networking websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Thus, as a parent you should always be vigilant when your kids are using the internet, especially social sites.
When 1,000 samples of skunk were examined
In 2016, researchers at King’s College, London examined around 1,000 samples of cannabis seized by police across London, Derbyshire, Kent, Merseyside, and Sussex. Of the lot, 94% tested positive for high-potency sinsemilla – colloquially referred to as “skunk”. It was further noted that in the normal cannabis resin, the quantity of THC had risen by 50% (from 4% to 6%) since 2005.
Consuming any form of cannabis that is very high in THC isn’t a recreational method. It’s more like signing a deal with the devil!