It is estimated that 2.7 million Americans are dependent on marijuana.
A Pew Charitable Trust investigation found that marijuana addiction does exist and is growing. While hard numbers are hard to come by, data suggests about 9% of all users become addicted to marijuana (17% among those who start as adolescents). Some treatment centers report increases in those requesting help which may be due to higher concentrations of THC levels. Selective breeding has increased the potency today to 20-30%, up from 2-4% of several decades ago.
PositiveTip: The best policy is to never start, but if you are dependent, get qualified help immediately.
Smoking marijuana while breast-feeding may pose risk to infants.
A small study of breast-feeding mothers suggests that the breast-fed infants would consume about 2.5% of the inhaled cannabis dose. Well-intentioned parents might choose to smoke marijuana away from their infants to minimize exposure, but thus study indicates the breast-fed infants will still ingest some. While these amounts are small, the impact on the developing brain is unknown.
PositiveTip: The safest practice is for breast-feeding mothers to refrain from using any cannabis.
Use of alcohol and marijuana does impact academic performance.
The two most commonly used substances on college campuses are alcohol and marijuana. Researchers followed freshmen from two collages for two years, tracking academic performance and monthly use of alcohol and cannabis. The lowest users of both substances maintained the highest GPAs, and had the lowest depression scores when compared to those with moderate to high alcohol but no marijuana use or moderate to high users of both. Grades improved with lower substance abuse!
PositiveTip: Going for the gold academically? Stay away from alcohol and marijuana.
Average cannabis potency has surged and many adolescents have overdosed.
While cannabis acceptance in society is increasing, there are significant issues parents need to be aware of:
- the developing adolescent brain can be harmed by regular marijuana use
- vaporizing cannabis may introduce toxic chemicals into young bodies
- parents should not use marijuana in front of their children to avoid inadvertently encouraging its use
- marijuana edibles should be carefully stored away from children
PositiveTip: Remember, the younger an adolescent begins using drugs, the more likely that adult drug dependence or addiction will develop.
The marijuana industry wants to grow its profits while downplaying the health risks.
After marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado, teens perceived it less harmful and use of the drug in this group increased--especially in the younger teens. A large national survey has found even in states without laws allowing recreational use, the perception of the harmfulness of marijuana declined significantly following passage of these laws. While these laws are aimed primarily at adults, they also effect the younger generations.
PositiveTip: Don't let the rising popularity of marijuana blind you from the adverse effects.
Cumulative lifetime use of marijuana hurts cognitive function in middle age.
Today many portray marijuana use as harmless. With more and more states legalizing its use, many believe it has no long-term effects on memory or other areas of cognitive function. Researchers followed over 3000 individuals for 25 years. Current marijuana use was associated with worse verbal memory and processing speed along with lower executive function in middle age.
PositiveTip: It may seem relatively harmless, but the use of marijuana negatively impacts cognitive function years later.
Pot smoking pregnant mothers likely to use other drugs as well.
A small study of mothers and their newborns found one quarter of those who tested positive for marijuana use also had evidence of other illegal drugs: 11.6% were positive for opioids, 10.6% for amphetamines and 6.5% for cocaine. Data was collected from 2006 to 2010 in an urban teaching hospital with 5000 births per year. About 10% of these tested positive for marijuana use.
PositiveTip: Encourage pregnant mothers to avoid marijuana and other illegal drug use for the good of their unborn infant--and themselves.
Smoking pot precipitates narrowing of brain vessels and probably risk of stroke.
As marijuana (cannabis) use increases, particularly in the young, there is growing concern that younger (under 50) users are at higher risk for ischemic strokes. French research had found regular cannabis users were 3 times as likely to experience intercranial stenosis (narrowing of brain arteries) as non-pot smokers. More research is needed to determine if this finding is causally linked to cannabis use.
PositiveTip: Many think marijuana use is safe, but it does carry serious health risks.
Marijuana smoke may be as harmful to lung function as cigarette smoke.
An animal study reported as an abstract at the American Heart Association annual meeting found secondhand marijuana smoke to be as harmful as tobacco smoke. The endothelial function of the rats studied decreased 50-70% when exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke. This impairment did not depend on THC in the smoke, and was similar to tobacco smoke. (Reference: Wang X, et al "Brief exposure to marijuana secondhand smoke impairs vascular endothelial function" AHA 2014; Abstract 19538)
PositiveTip: Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke regardless of the source.
Teen marijuana use linked to school failure, suicide, and drug abuse.
Three well-controlled, large studies in New Zealand and Australia of those who used marijuana before age 17 reveal adverse changes to developing brains and significant negative impacts on motivation, drive, and cognition. Subjects were followed for up to 30 years. A dose-response relationship was observed between frequency of use and dropout rates, suicide attempts, failure to get a college degree, and use of illicit drugs.
PositiveTip: Parents must warn teens and young adults about the major adverse effects of marijuana use.