Mental health campaigners are calling for a government inquiry into the effects of cannabis one year after the drug was reclassified from Class B to Class C.

Mental health campaigners are calling for a government inquiry into the effects of cannabis one year after the drug was reclassified from Class B to Class C.

Yesterday, the mental health charity Rethink said MPs on the health select committee should investigate possible links between cannabis and mental illness after the publication of several studies suggesting an association with psychosis.

Cliff Prior, Rethink's chief executive, said the number of people who use drugs and have mental illness has risen by 60 per cent in the past five years.

"There is a strongly held view that cannabis is risk-free, reflected in the rates of its use among young people," Mr Prior said. "Cannabis is not risk-free. There is a rapidly growing body of evidence showing that cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in people already at risk, and probably even in people who should only be low risk."

Tomorrow, hundreds of mental health campaigners will attend a rally outside Parliament to demand changes to the Government's mental health reforms. The draft Mental Health Bill, which has already undergone significant changes since it was published in 2002, has been opposed by psychiatrists, mental health campaigners and patients, who argue it is geared more towards compulsion than meeting patients' health needs.

The health minister Rosie Winterton said she would meet the marchers to reassure them their concerns would be heard. "This is the biggest change to mental health law for 50 years and it has rightly been subject to extensive consultation," she said.

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