The number of Scottish cannabis users being hospitalised with psychiatric issues has increased by 74 per cent since 2016, when the drug was semi-decriminalised by Police Scotland. The rise follows senior officers in Scotland issuing guidance in January 2016 that so-called simple possession of cannabis could be handwaved away with what amounts to an informal warning, resulting in prosecutions more than halving from 1,809 in 2015/16 to 877 in 2019/20, according to figures reported by The Sunday Post. Professor Jonathan Chick, medical director of the Castle Craig rehabilitation clinic in the Scottish Borders, was quoted by the Post as saying that the patients he deals with suffer from “dependence and psychosis.” “Often, where there has been a second or third psychotic breakdown, there has been hospital or police involvement because of incidents of self-harm or harm to others. These patients have terrifying thoughts,” he explained. “It is a paranoid psychosis where they can’t even go into the street without misinterpreting thoroughly innocuous cues as malevolent. It is a horrible experience… Sometimes the damage is permanent in which case the treatment for schizophrenia involves living and working in safer environments and medication – though there is no medication that doesn’t come without effects such as weight increase, mental slowing and involuntary movements,” he added, warning that “The eye has been taken off the ball with cannabis.” “We’re still in the grip of this really worrying narrative that cannabis is about peace, love and opening your mind with no harm done,” lamented the chief executive of the Faces & Voices of Recovery charity, Annemarie Ward, adding that the “cannabis myth has to be challenged”.