Cannabis: Expert Report Details Health Effects -- Good and Bad
The growing acceptance, accessibility, and use of cannabis
and its derivatives have raised important public health concerns ;
22 million Americans older than 12 years
report current cannabis use ― the majority for recreational purposes.
Twenty-eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for medical
use, and eight states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use.
The movement in Canada to legalize both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis
was in part an attempt to eliminate the illegal trafficking of the drug. With
criminal penalties in place, the police, courts and prisons at great cost were
unsuccessful in suppressing the market for the drug. Other arguments for
governments gaining the revenue that criminal organizations received were
persuasive. The problem, of course, is that cannabis-using citizens were
drugged, dangerous drivers and compromised in their learning, social
interactions and employability. We already have a drugged society with at least
half the population under the influence of mind altering drugs. Another group of
psychotropic drugs will get lost in the great festival of brain dysfunction.
According to a 2017 report on the benefits and harms of cannabis from the National Academies of
Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS): their evidence suggests cannabis use is associated with the development of
psychoses and schizophrenia, but may have benefits, including alleviating
chronic pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Cannabis use before the age of 25
years may impair brain growth and learning. The committee found moderate
evidence of increased mania symptoms and hypomania in patients with bipolar
disorder who use cannabis regularly, and there was evidence of an increase in
the incidence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts with heavy use. It also
reported substantial evidence linking greater frequency of cannabis use and an
increased likelihood of developing problem cannabis use, and that initiating
cannabis use at a younger age increases the likelihood of problem use. Cannabis
may pose risks, including a worsening of respiratory symptoms and more frequent
bronchitis with long-term smoking, an increase in motor vehicle accidents, and
low birth weight in offspring of maternal smokers. The committee also found an
increased risk for cannabis overdose in children in states where the substance
is legal. Cannabis may cause respiratory symptoms and more frequent
bronchitis, an increase in motor vehicle accidents, and low birth weight in
offspring of maternal smokers. The committee also found an increased risk for
cannabis overdose in children in states where the substance is legal. (Alicia Ault Medscape
January 13, ;2017 )
Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are sounding the
alarm over a possible increase in unknown cognitive and behavioral harms that
widespread cannabis use may unmask. They stated:"Science
has shown us that marijuana is not a benign drug. The morbidity and mortality
from legal drugs is much greater than that for illegal drugs, not because the
drugs are more dangerous but because their legal status makes them more
accessible and a larger percentage of the population is exposed to them on a
regular basis. The current normalization movement presses on with complete disregard for
the evidence of marijuana's negative health consequences, and this bias is
likely to erode our prevention efforts by decreasing the perception of harm and
increasing use among young people, which is the population most vulnerable to
the deleterious effects of regular marijuana use."
A clinical review conducted by NIDA director Nora Volkow,
MD, points out that as legalization of the drug for recreational and medical use
spreads, vulnerable populations, especially adolescents, are exposed to toxic
effects of the drug. Dr Volkow explained that young brains are engaged in a
protracted period of "brain programming," in which everything an adolescent does
or is exposed to can affect the final architecture and network connectivity of
the brain. Drugs are powerful disruptors of brain programming because they can
directly interfere with the process of neural pruning and interregional brain
connectivity. In the short term this interference can negatively affect academic
performance. Long-term use can impair behavioral adaptability, mental health,
and life trajectories. Emerging evidence suggests that adolescents may be
particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of cannabis use.
Several studies, for example, have shown that individuals who use cannabis at an earlier age have
greater neuropsychological impairment and that persistent use of cannabis from
adolescence was associated with neuropsychological decline from the age of 13 to
38 years. Cannabis use may cause an 'amotivational' state.(JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(3):292-297.
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