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NIDA review summarizes research on marijuana's negative health effects
Date:6/5/2014

The current state of science on the adverse health effects of marijuana use links the drug to several significant adverse effects including addiction, a review reports. The article, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is authored by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The review describes the science establishing that marijuana can be addictive and that this risk for addiction increases for daily or young users. It also offers insights into research on the gateway theory indicating that marijuana use, similar to nicotine and alcohol use, may be associated with an increased vulnerability to other drugs.

The authors review literature showing that marijuana impairs driving, increasing the risk of being involved in a car accident, and that these risks are further enhanced when combining marijuana with alcohol. The authors also discuss the implications of rising marijuana potencies and note that because older studies are based on the effects of marijuana containing lower THC the main psychoactive chemical found in marijuana stronger adverse health effects may occur with today's more potent marijuana.

The reviewers consider areas in which little research has been conducted. This includes possible health consequences of secondhand marijuana smoke; the long-term impact of prenatal marijuana exposure; the therapeutic potential of the individual chemicals found in the marijuana plant; and effects of marijuana legalization policies on public health.

The scientists focus on marijuana's harmful effects on teens, an age group in which the brain rapidly develops, which is one factor that could help explain increased risks from marijuana use in this population. Research suggests that marijuana impairs critical thinking and memory functions during use and that these deficits persist for days after using. In addition, a long-term study showed
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Contact: NIDA Press Team
media@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
Source:Eurekalert

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