Marijuana Is Addictive: Report Reveals Two Decades of Research
Public perception of marijuana use has greatly changed over the past few years, with many perceiving the drug as harmless. But a new 20-year study says quite the opposite.
Professor Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland, Australia released “What Twenty Years of Research on Cannabis Use Has Taught Us,” in the journal, Addiction this week, highlighting the effect that marijuana use has on mental and physical health of adolescents and young adults. The report compares the effects of marijuana use on health between 1993 and 2013. The effects were broken into two categories – adverse effects of acute cannabis use and of chronic cannabis use.
Effects of acute use include driving while high on marijuana, which doubles the risk of a car crash. If users are also intoxicated from alcohol while driving, that risk substantially increases. Use of marijuana during pregnancy slightly reduces the baby’s birth weight.
Hall found that regular users can develop a dependence syndrome and about 1 in 10 do. This means that marijuana is indeed addictive and users can experience withdrawal symptoms. But those who start using during adolescence are more likely to get hooked: about one in six.
Adolescents who regularly use marijuana are likely to:
- Double their risk of having psychotic symptoms and disorders, especially if there is a family history of these disorders and if they start using marijuana in their mid-teens.
- Not graduate or finish school, but it is unknown whether or not the link is causal.
- Use other illicit drugs, but it is unknown whether or not the link is causal.
- Double the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or reporting psychotic symptoms in adulthood.
Those who begin using marijuana as an adolescent continuing through adulthood seem to be intellectually impaired, but the mechanism and reversibility of the impairment is not clear.
Adults who regularly smoke marijuana have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis, they may want to consider getting a cannabis detox. The study also found an increased risk of heart attack among middle-aged adults who smoke marijuana.