The popular notion about marijuana is that it’s a harmless pleasure. In fact, there are even some great benefits linked to its use – the following are clinical conditions with symptoms that may be relieved by marijuana:
Glaucoma, nausea, AIDs, chronic pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.¹
However, there are two sides to every story, and marijuana is proven to have substantial adverse health effects, especially to those with developing brains (about 21 years of age and younger):
Effects of short-term use²
– Impaired short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and to retain information
– Impaired motor coordination, interfering with driving skills and increasing the risk of injuries
– Altered judgment, increasing the risk of sexual behaviors that facilitate the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
In high doses, paranoia and psychosis
Effects of long-term or heavy use²
– Addiction (in about 9% of users overall, 17% of those who begin use in adolescence, and 25 to 50% of those who are daily users)*
– Altered brain development*
– Poor educational outcome, with increased likelihood of dropping out of school*
– Cognitive impairment, with lower IQ among those who were frequent users during adolescence*
– Diminished life satisfaction and achievement (determined on the basis of subjective and objective measures as compared with such ratings in the general population)*
– Symptoms of chronic bronchitis
– Increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia) in persons with a predisposition to such disorders
*The effect is strongly associated with initial marijuana use early in adolescence.
There is a high* level of confidence that marijuana causes the following effects: Diminished lifetime achievement, addiction to marijuana and other substances, motor vehicle accidents, symptoms of chronic brochitis³
There is a medium* level of confidence that marijuana causes the following effects: Abnormal brain development, depression and anxiety, schizophrenia, progression to use of other drugs³
There is a low* level of confidence that marijuana causes the following effect: Lung cancer³
*The indicated overall level of confidence in the association between marijuana use and the listed effects represents an attempt to rank the strength of the current evidence, especially with regard to heavy or long-term use and use that starts in adolescence.
Over time, marijuana may negatively impact several regions of the brain. For example, decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and a decrease in the size of the hippocampus has been seen consistently in long-term users.⁴ The results of the preceding negative externalities results in and is not limited to a decrease in functional memory, learning, alertness and self-conscious awareness.⁵
However, some of these effects have been shown to be reversible when abstaining from marijuana for just 4 weeks.⁶
Clearly, this is a two way street and the use of marijuana should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
The information contained in this article is extracted from a pubmed.gov study backed by 77 references.
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To maximizing health,
Jordan Paris, NASM CPT