Children as young as nine are being admitted to hospital with severe disorders caused by cannabis, figures reveal.
More than 3,400 patients under the age of 19 were admitted last year because of mental and behavioural illnesses triggered by the drug.
Doctors are seeing a ‘whole new generation’ with serious problems, who are increasingly buying cannabis via social media websites.
NHS figures show that admissions for disorders caused by the drug among under-19s have risen by 38 per cent since 2013/14, and by 10 per cent in the past year alone.
While boys account for the majority of cases, girls are catching up.
And the figures underestimate the scale of the problem because they count only those patients who were so unwell they were admitted on to a ward or specialist unit.
The revelations came as evidence mounts over the harm caused by super-strong ‘skunk’ forms of cannabis that are widely available in Britain.
Last week a major study in the Lancet Psychiatry journal revealed that potent forms of the drug increased the risk of psychotic disorders five-fold. A shocking 30 per cent of new cases of psychosis in London are linked to skunk cannabis, the King’s College London researchers found.