Negative medical effects

Here we have listed and explained the negative health effects of using marijuana. These must be read carefully, as with any drug there is always some level of risk involved. It is better to have a good idea what a drug can potentially do to you. Some may read this and decide against using the drug. As with any decision in life, awareness is the key here.

The drug has many physical and psychological effects including loss of short-term memory and respiratory related illnesses.

The drugs when smoked increases the chances of lung cancer and other smoking related illnesses. Tobacco is usually smoked with marijuana, and this too is a carcinogenic substance. The smoke produced by burning cannabis is less carcinogenic than tobacco, so smoking the substance pure isnt nearly as damaging compared to smoking with tobacco.

Habitual use of the drug leads to loss of motivation in all areas. It is easy to get stuck in a cycle of smoking, although the substance itself hasnt been proven to be addictive. It is the feelings the drug produces which becomes second nature to many people too quickly. Loss of motivation in life can prove hugely detrimental to careers and other important life areas.

Loss of short-term memory is common, with heavy habitual users often forgetting to do things on daily basis.

The loss of motivation is perhaps the most serious negative effect of using cannabis. It is extremely easy to become affected by the drug in this way from even mild habitual use. The long term health issues revolve mainly around smoking related illnesses, but there have been reported instances of people becoming psychologicaly addicted to the effects of cannabis. These people can experience drug pyschosis, which in extreme and rare circumstances can result in death, although there hasnt been a single case of death from cannabis usage alone.

It has been suggested that cannabis can cause mental problems in users, however studies have shown that the drug enhances the effects of these illnesses rather than causes them:

In the case of delinquency, schizophrenia and mental illnesses, the balance of the evidence points to the second explanation. Marijuana doesn't cause the problems, although it may make them worse. Some schizophrenics, for example, are drawn to the drug because it eases their sense of alienation. And most researchers now accept that the evidence linking marijuana to abnormal brain waves vanishes when people with psychiatric problems, illnesses or a history of general drug abuse are excluded from studies.

The verdict from research into the impact of marijuana on road safety skills is less clear. In Britain as many as 1 in 10 motorists involved in serious accidents test positive for cannabis. And figures as high as 37 per cent have emerged from studies in urban areas of the US. However, many of these drivers also test positive for alcohol, and even the cases involving just cannabis cannot be equated with people driving under the influence because the drug lingers so long in the body.

In driving simulators, marijuana does impair visual skills and mental dexterity. But studies of actual driving show that even high doses of marijuana have less impact than alcohol, perhaps because smoking it doesn't usually make people become vastly overconfident. In one study, low doses of marijuana made drivers more cautious.

From New Scientist, 21 February 1998