09 Dec Professor Sir Robin Murray And The ‘Skunk’ Studies That Don’t Exist

Professor Sir Robin Murray

There is no accepted definition of what science or the media means by ‘skunk’. The only accurate definition is that it is a strain of cannabis, probably originally developed in the USA and then refined by Dutch specialists. It is a cross of predominantly cannabis indica with cannabis sativa and is far from the strongest cannabis available. Nor has it ever held this dubious crown – and, in any case, what does ‘strongest’ mean when cannabis contains over 400 compounds?

This isn’t what the media means by ‘skunk’ though and when Professor Sir Robin Murray, the eminent psychiatrist, said in the Independent last month that “studies show” people who “smoke ‘skunk’ every day” have an 8% risk of developing schizophrenia, what did he mean?

It’s very difficult to understand because there are no scientific studies on ‘skunk’. How can there be, when there is no precise scientific definition of what it is?

It should be very worrying then for anyone with a respect for science, truth or a concern for the impact of cannabis on mental health, that such inaccurate and misleading claims are made. Particularly when they come from a man who holds himself out as the pre-eminent expert on the subject in Britain.

What did Sir Robin mean when he made this claim and what is the evidence to back it up?

And what did The Independent do to check the veracity or the simple common sense of this claim?