Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 50, Issue 9, pp 1317–1326

Psychosocial sequelae of cannabis use and implications for policy: findings from the Christchurch Health and Development Study

  • David M. Fergusson
  • Joseph M. Boden
  • L. John Horwood
Invited Reviews

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-015-1070-x

Cite this article as:
Fergusson, D.M., Boden, J.M. & Horwood, L.J. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2015) 50: 1317. doi:10.1007/s00127-015-1070-x



The Christchurch Health and Development Study is a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1265 children who were born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1977. This cohort has now been studied from birth to the age of 35.

Scope of this review

This article examines a series of findings from the CHDS that address a range of issues relating to the use of cannabis amongst the cohort. These issues include: (a) patterns of cannabis use and cannabis dependence; (b) linkages between cannabis use and adverse educational and economic outcomes; (c) cannabis and other illicit drug use; (d) cannabis and psychotic symptoms; (e) other CHDS findings related to cannabis; and (f) the consequences of cannabis use for adults using cannabis regularly.


In general, the findings of the CHDS suggest that individuals who use cannabis regularly, or who begin using cannabis at earlier ages, are at increased risk of a range of adverse outcomes, including: lower levels of educational attainment; welfare dependence and unemployment; using other, more dangerous illicit drugs; and psychotic symptomatology. It should also be noted, however, that there is a substantial proportion of regular adult users who do not experience harmful consequences as a result of cannabis use.


Collectively, these findings suggest that cannabis policy needs to be further developed and evaluated in order to find the best way to regulate a widely-used, and increasingly legal substance.


Cannabis Cannabis dependence Education Unemployment Welfare dependence Gateway theory Psychosis 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Health Research Council of New Zealand
  • PA 11-792

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Fergusson
    • 1
  • Joseph M. Boden
    • 1
  • L. John Horwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Christchurch Health and Development Study, Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of Otago, ChristchurchChristchurchNew Zealand

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