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If you are a marijuana fan, you may think you are in luck as an increasing number of states legalize use of the drug. But a review of the past 20 years of research into marijuana offers a few cautionary principles you need to keep in mind if you indulge.
According to Wayne Hall, a World Health Organization adviser on addiction, two decades of investigations into the effects of marijuana has uncovered some well-documented risks as well as unanswered questions about its effects.
His review shows:
- You basically cannot experience a fatal overdose of marijuana.
- If you drive while stoned your risk of a car crash doubles. If you’ve also been drinking alcoholic beverages, the chances of an accident goes up even more.
- Pregnant women who smoke marijuana give birth to smaller babies.
- If you persistently use marijuana you run a 10 percent chance of developing dependence on it. About 16 percent of kids who start in their teens or early 20s become dependent.
- Regularly using marijuana doubles your chances of having psychotic symptoms and problems, especially if you start smoking in your teenage years.
- Kids who use cannabis have a greater chance of using other recreational drugs. But nobody knows if this is a cause-and-effect relationship.
- Regularly smoking marijuana ups your risk of having chronic bronchitis.
- If you are middle-aged and you smoke marijuana, you likely increase your chances of a heart attack.
- If you use cannabis in your teens and into your 20s, you will probably lose a few points off your I.Q. Nobody knows if you can get them back by stopping your drug use.
- Smoking marijuana may increase your risk of testicular cancer.
Hall’s report concludes: “…cannabis use increases the risk of accidents and can produce dependence, and …there are consistent associations between regular cannabis use and poor psychosocial outcomes and mental health in adulthood.”