Volunteers are to take strong skunk on Channel 4 as part of a live show investigating the effects of drugs.
The show will see volunteers with previous experience of using the drug take skunk, cannabis resin and a placebo under laboratory conditions.
Elements of the skunk trial will be broadcast live alongside studio discussions with research scientists, health professionals and politicians, as well as cannabis users and drug campaigners from both sides of the debate.
The show, which follows on from last year’s Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, will focus on the effects of skunk, a strong form of cannabis that has become more prevalent in the UK.
Compared to cannabis resin, skunk has far higher levels of the psychoactive agent Tetrahydrocannabinol that makes users ‘stoned’, but it can also make some people anxious and lead to psychosis-like symptoms.
The trial is designed to test hypotheses that skunk is much more addictive than other forms of cannabis and that it can provoke paranoid episodes and contribute to memory loss.
Cognitive tests and fMRI scans will be used on volunteers to examine the neurological differences between skunk and cannabis resin.
The trial will be conducted by two of the leading experts on the effects of illegal drugs on the brain, psychopharmacologists Professor Val Curran from UCL and Professor David Nutt from Imperial College.
As well as exploring the effects of cannabis on the brain, the programme will debate the risks of taking the drug, potential medical uses of cannabis and the effectiveness of the law.
It will also explore the history and chemistry of cannabis, see heavy skunk users trying to quit the drug in a UK addiction treatment centre and go out with police on a raid to a ‘skunk farm’.
The 90 minute programme is due to air next year on Channel 4.