What do we really know about smoking marijuana?

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.”

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.