Health Issues and the Effects of Cannabis

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Health Issues and the Effects of Cannabis


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Although there are many conflicting studies involving health issues and the effects of cannabis, certain physical and mental health effects conclusions have been reached. Today, there is still a substantial amount of propaganda and misinformation from both cannabis advocates and opponents due to the legal issues of cannabis, including legal and political constraints on cannabis research.

The most obvious confounding factor in cannabis research is the prevalent usage of other recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Such complications demonstrate the need for studies on cannabis that have stronger controls, and investigations into the symptoms of cannabis use that may also be caused by tobacco. Most cannabis research within the USA is funded by government agencies who in turn publish position papers citing research studies that spotlight the negative consequences of cannabis use. In light of this, some people question whether these agencies make an honest effort to present an accurate, unbiased summary of the evidence, or whether they "cherry-pick" their data, and others caution that the raw data, and not the final conclusions, are what should be examined.

Unlike tobacco, cannabis has not been shown to cause emphysema, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other studies have suggested that cannabis use by expectant mothers does not appear to cause birth defects or developmental delays in their newborn children. According to a United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is less dangerous than tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol in social harms, physical harm and addiction.

Cannabis is known to act on the hippocampus (an area of the brain associated with memory and learning), and impair short term memory and attention for the duration of its effects and in some cases for the next day. In the long term, some studies point to enhancement of particular types of memory. Cannabis was found to be neuroprotective against excitotoxicity and is therefore beneficial for the prevention of progressive degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease. A 1998 report commissioned in France by Health Secretary of State Bernard Kouchner and directed by Dr. Pierre-Bernard Roques determined that, "former results suggesting anatomic changes in the brain of chronic cannabis users, measured by tomography, were not confirmed by the accurate modern neuro-imaging techniques," (like MRI). "Moreover, morphological impairment of the hippocampus [which plays a part in memory and navigation] of rat after administration of very high doses of THC (Langfield et al., 1988) was not shown (Slikker et al., 1992)" (translated). He concluded that cannabis does not have any neurotoxicity as defined in the report, unlike alcohol and cocaine.

Research between the use of cannabis and mental illness has also brought significant results. Cannabis use is generally higher among sufferers of schizophrenia, but the causality between the two has not been established. Another study concluded that sustained early-adolescent cannabis use among genetically predisposed individuals has been associated with a variety of mental illness outcomes, ranging from psychotic episodes to clinical schizophrenia.

Cannabis
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illegal drugs. This article looks at the health risks related to cannabis use.

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