Marijuana: Negative Health Effects

Marijuana has many medical applications, most especially for patients on chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis patients, glaucoma and for chronic pain It has a long history of both recreational and medical use

However, its popularity has led to a lot of myths about the health effects of marijuana I'd like to do my best to dispel these using only published peer reviewed studies found in Medline I'm going to concentrate on facts, not opinions I've listed my sources in the video description I'm aware this is going to be an unpopular video among certain people

My motivations are strictly to correct misinformation, and if I shy away from this topic, I would be violating my own principles If you choose to down-rate or unsubscribe, please let me know through comments or personal message specifically why you are doing so Before I start, I need to add a few disclaimers: 1 I'm a total square, a nerd, and I've never once tried marijuana or any other illegal drug I never drink to excess, I don't smoke and never have

This was a conscious choice I made in my youth 2 I have no dog in this fight I've never been paid to do any kind of research on illegal drugs, I have no particular political views, and I've never had illicit drugs have any major effect on my life, either positive or negative 3

The research being presented is strictly about recreational use of marijuana cigarettes Medical usage and other forms of drug are not considered 4 This is not a presentation of my political views on the legalization of pot I would like to see less marijuana consumption, especially among young people and children, but I have no idea which policy would be most effective at achieving that end

Myth number 1 Cannabis isn't addictive Research on the topic doesn't support this common belief The active ingredient THC causes physical and psychological dependence in a percentage of users, estimated to be between 7 and 10% in some studies Heavy users who stop using will experience physical withdrawal symptoms similar to what an alcoholic or tobacco smoker experiences

The documented symptoms are craving, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and depression The symptoms peak at 2 to 4 days and subside after 7 to 10 Some studies find that about 20% of users are unable to voluntarily quit for more than a few days Marijuana withdrawal can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, The DSM, Fourth Edition and there are clinical trials now underway to develop drugs to lessen the withdrawal effects In fact, in some studies, people were more likely to successfully quit their dependence on alcohol and cigarettes than on cannabis

All of this is still fairly controversial but well supported Pot is certainly less addictive than heroin or cocaine, but it IS a drug of dependence Myth number 2 Smoking marijuana is safer than cigarettes Not according to a New Zealand study that found that, after careful removal of confounders, marijuana increased lung cancer risk by 7% per joint-year compared to 6% per cigarette-year in young adults How could that be? It contains up to twice the concentration of the carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAC's

Smokers don't use filters, hold the smoke in their lungs longer, and inhale more deeply They also absorb five times as much carbon monoxide from each puff of a joint vs the the same puff of cigarette (J Psychoactive Drugs 1994 Jul-Sep;26(3):285-8

and Eur Respir J 2008 Feb;31(2):280-6) Pot smoking also increases bronchitis, airway injury, and causes immune system abnormalities in the lungs It is significantly more likely to do these things than tobacco smoke (J Clin Pharmacol

2002 Nov;42(11 Suppl):71S-81S) It also increases your chances of developing asthma and can aggravate asthma (J Public Health (Oxf) 2007 Dec;29(4):343-9) Myth number 3: Being high on pot doesn't make you dangerous behind the wheel

If you use cannabis within 24 hours of driving, your risk of being in a motor vehicle accident is 24 times higher according to a French study Impairment is measurable at as little as a third of a joint These kinds of numbers may be a little deceptive because being a pot smoker means you are more likely to be young, a male, and possibly other groups with risky driving behaviors (Ann Pharm Fr

2006 May;64(3):192-6) A Dutch study found a dose-dependent response The more you smoke, the more likely you are to cause an accident, from three times as likely with the first joint, to seven times as likely for heavy use of three or more (Drug Alcohol Depend 2004 Feb 7;73(2):109-19

) Various studies have generally, but not always, found notable impairment of driving performance like braking times, lane control, and awareness of speed One concern with marijuana is its persistence The drug remains active in your system for much longer than alcohol The effects of a single joint usually peak at 20 to 40 minutes, and full mental function isn't restored for 2 and a half hours Multiple joints prolong this effect

(Addiction 2007 Dec;102(12):1910-7) Unlike alcohol, cannabis users are more likely to compensate for their impaired driving by exhibiting cautious behaviors like leaving more space, slowing down and passing less That may explain why they are slightly less dangerous that someone with the same impairment level with alcohol who have lost that ability to assess risks accurately (Am J Addict

2009; 18(3): 185–193) The very worse thing you can do before driving is have a few alcoholic drinks and also smoke marijuana The two have a synergistic effect on your performance behind the wheel so that low levels of both have a stronger effect than high levels of either drug (Am J Addict 2009 May-Jun;18(3):185-93

) Myth number 4 You can't overdose on marijuana The LD50 of delta-9-THC by inhalation for rats is 42 mg/kg of body weight For comparison, arsenic is 14 mg/kg orally, nicotine has an LD50 of 50 mg/kg orally, caffeine is 192, alcohol is over 7000 So THC is lethal at a slightly lower dose than nicotine, but about 3 times higher than arsenic Each joint is said to contain 10 to 40 mg, so if your weight is 120 pounds, which is about 54 kg you'd need to smoke a lot of joints before you die but it is possible, however unlikely, especially if a vaporizer is used for rapid uptake of drug or if other drugs are used in conjunction

You can also suffer acute THC narcosis or intoxication, the equivalent to an overdose, that's non-lethal but causes paralysis, unconciousness or respiratory distress You'd need to get to a hospital pretty quickly to avoid some life-threatening conditions I don't think either of these is a very common problem, but it's still a myth I thought was worth correcting I couldn't find any documented cases where marijuana alone caused a lethal overdose with normal usage, but it is found to be a contributing factor to lethal respiratory distress in some post-mortem exams Asthma plus cannabis can be a lethal combination

Myth number 5 Pot is basically herbal and healthy if you discount the effects of smoking it The worst effect in my opinion is the effect on the brain There are so many known negative effects in the brain I'm going to have to group them It's worth noting that cannabinoid receptors, while they are most abundant in the brain, are also expressed in virtually every organ system including the heart and liver

Pot negatively affects memory and learning, existing psychoses, brain development in adolescence, and may worsen symptoms of depression or schizophrenia It is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, and a teratogen; it causes birth defects in pregnant mothers There's new research that it's a significant risk factor in the development of psychoses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder The active ingredient in marijuana causes changes to your brain that predispose you to psychoses and mood disorders later in life This includes mania, schizophrenia, and depression

The risk increases with how early you start and how much you smoke Using several illicit drugs like pot and stimulants and a family history of mental illness greatly increase this risk For example, the most conservative figures from recent studies found a population of pot smokers are between 12 and 28 times as likely to develop a psychotic disorder

Other studies, less controlled for other drug use, have found that high consumers of cannabis are 6 times as likely as non-users to develop schizophrenia within a 15 year follow up window This increased risk of psychosis also correlates to an increased risk of suicide"Any marijuana use" made a population of Swedish men between 13 and 21 times as likely to attempt suicide (Br J Psychiatry

2009 Dec;195(6):492-7) Some of you may be thinking that this is the wrong correlation Upset people, sick people look for escapes Drugs offer that escape However, this has been repeatedly tested and not supported by multiple studies

Cannabis use is independently correlated to psychoses, that means no other behavioral risk factor appears to be coordinated with the marijuana use (World Psychiatry 2008;7(2):68-71) It does seem that genetics will play a role, but that research is still preliminary Certain people are going to be more genetically susceptible than others

In stable schizophrenic patients who have their symptoms controlled by medications, IV doses of delta-9 THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, greatly increased the symptoms of their psychotic disorders, including hallucinations, ability to discern reality, and serum markers of emotional distress (Biol Psychiatry 2005 Mar 15;57(6):594-608) Myth 6 Pot only affects your brain and your lungs Marijuana use is positively associated with reproductive cancers, head and neck cancer, amnesia, arteritis, postural syncope, which is a condition characterized by fainting upon standing

Marijuana may trigger a myocardial infarction and have a vasospastic effect (Lancet 2009 Oct 17;374(9698):1383-91) THC interferes with fatty acid formation in the brain and reduces brain volume in long term heavy users (Rev Prat

2005 Jan 15;55(1):41-9) If smoked, there are also oral effects similar to that of smokers Chronic bad breath, gum disease, oral infections, increased risk of cavities, periodontal disease and precancerous lesions in the mouth (Aust Dent J 2005 Jun;50(2):70-4

) Lastly, there's a very weak correlation between marijuana use and stroke that is still the subject of active research Just to show I'm not being completely biased, there are two negative myths that are not well supported by my survey of the scientific literature: the gateway drug effect and amotivational syndrome Both are still somewhat controversial, although there are studies that do suggest both effects may be real One effect I didn't discuss was learning impairment If you are a student, and you value your education, smoking pot can reduce your ability to create long-term memory connections

Cannabis doesn't make you dumb, but it keeps you from getting full use of your education These are just 6 of the myths I found being exchanged as though they were facts If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, I want to make sure you're aware of the health risks I'm not interested in scare tactics, only accurate information The government agencies whose responsibility it is to educate the public have done a very bad job, in my opinion

They've used marketing techniques, which we as lifetime consumers have become resistant to We distrust people trying to sell us something with clever ploys My hope is that a simple cataloging of research can be more effective for people who value evidence over spin I have two young children, 5 and 9, and they've already heard the drug talk As a parent, I want them to make the right choices not because they're afraid or because I told them to, but because they value their real lives more than comforting delusions

Thanks for watching


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