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NIDA Weighs In on Pot

Addiction is one among many potential adverse effects of the increasingly popular drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

By | June 9, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, ROTATIONALMarijuana use may carry a number of risks, including addiction and memory impairment, according to a review of the scientific literature authored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The authors of the review, published last week (June 5) in The New England Journal of Medicine, stressed marijuana’s potential harm to younger users, citing studies conducted on adolescents considering cognitive impairment, school performance, and social factors. “It is important to alert the public that using marijuana in the teen years brings health, social, and academic risk,” lead author and NIDA Director Nora Volkow said in a statement. “Physicians in particular can play a role in conveying to families that early marijuana use can interfere with crucial social and developmental milestones and can impair cognitive development.” The authors admitted, however, the existence of “inconsistencies” among these studies, with some showing that the long-term effects of adolescent marijuana use may be subtle, and reversible once a person quits using the drug.

The authors also discussed marijuana’s oft-cited role as a gateway drug, highlighting rodent studies that seem to support pot’s role in priming the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. But they conceded that “an alternative explanation is that people who are more susceptible to drug-taking behavior are simply more likely to start with marijuana because of its accessibility and that their subsequent social interactions with other drug users would increase the probability that they would try other drugs.”

In the end, the authors called for more research into the potential costs and benefits of marijuana use, cautioning that whatever harm the drug does is likely to become more prevalent as medicinal and recreational pot prohibition erodes. “As policy shifts toward legalization of marijuana,” they wrote, “it is reasonable and probably prudent to hypothesize that its use will increase and that, by extension, so will the number of persons for whom there will be negative health consequences.”

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Comments

Avatar of: raymond ffoulkes

raymond ffoulkes

Posts: 4

June 9, 2014

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

Avatar of: GerryS

GerryS

Posts: 10

June 10, 2014

In a society that has spent huge effort in obtaining concrete evidence for the positive and negative effects of bio-active substances, it is radically foolish to revert to the age of herbs where hundreds or even thousands of agents, all with their effects and side effects are thrown at a person all at once. Having grown up in the age of the 60's and 70's where use of cannabis was widespread among certain groups, I got to first hand see its negative effects and the long term effects of its use. The most distressing I have witnessed in users have been the inability of individuals to take in opinions contrary to their own (inability to rationally compromise), a strong group-think attitude, locking into emotional immaturity, and the treating of others as objects of pleasure rather than human beings with the radical inability to recognize these defects. I also noticed that a lot of pot users also used tobacco which I understand is synergistic with cannabis (tobacco is also greatly used among schizophrenics, quite possibly to enhance the psychotic high) and also possibly to unconsciously slow down the progression of the disease. At any rate, the potential dangers are quite great.

Since in my state there has been recent decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis, I have seen some shocking events including seeing a young woman over her steering wheel driving while smoking a bong and multiple occasions of open discussions of drug abuse on public transportation.

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