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Marijuana effects Douaihy paper

Smoke Weed If You Want to Fail

A recent white paper called Cannabis Revisited, published by Antoine Douaihy, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry, takes a look at the effects of marijuana vis-à-vis the increasingly lackadaisical attitude toward marijuana use these days.

Douaihy expresses that while potheads ingest weed by smoking—the fastest way to experience its effects—the parts of the plant that are smoked represent the least understood and the most unpredictable side effects. Specifically, the Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) chemical that’s available in pill form as well as some synthetic copycats yield a known quantity of drug that’s ingested by the user. However, when weed is burned as in a joint or a water pipe the lighting produces a chemical reaction among some 489 plan components that are just not completely understood and are therefore not safe.

Most marijuana users shrug off any worry about the effects of smoking grass, no matter how many researchers express concern on the subject. Just who is smoking weed these days? A variety of studies repeatedly demonstrate that most youngsters in the 13-23 age range who smoke regularly may well decrease their use by the time they reach age 29. But there are still serious implications arising from the effects of marijuana. 

First, the figures on usage: Up to 4.5 percent of the world’s population uses weed at least one time during a given year. In the United States, those figures are higher. About 11 percent of those aged 15-64 admit to yearly indulgence. Up to age 25, about 16 percent of people smoke weed.

Even as that percentage drops as people become more mature, the effects of marijuana linger on. The RAND Corporation produced a study of 6,000 teens and young adults who decreased their amount of smoking, but by age 29 they lagged behind comparable demographic groups in the amount of education achieved and in their annual earned income.

Another study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse tells us that pot-smoking employees continue to be a drag on a company’s collective productivity, all their protests to the contrary notwithstanding. Their negative behaviors include increased absences, more on-the-job injuries as well as accidents in general, and a higher rate of job turnover.

People who smoke also report a lower level of satisfaction with their love lives. They report more general dissatisfaction with their careers and also find less satisfaction with their hobbies or other leisure pursuits.

What about the permanent effects of marijuana? While use of weed directly correlates with impaired concentration and memory functioning, in many cases those effects decline after a month spent abstaining from weed. However, broad neuropsychological effects among chronic teen users are unlikely to resolve entirely even with the passage of time. Users contend that marijuana relieves anxiety—and scientists have seen that it does in small doses, but it increases anxiety in large, regular doses. Those who still smoke regularly by the age of 29 are more likely to develop anxiety disorders.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous effects of marijuana relates to the problem of smoking and driving. One study shows that 8 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers will test positive for marijuana, a figure four times higher than for alcohol use.  Also, it takes a lesser amount of weed intoxication than alcohol intoxication to increase a person’s chances of being involved in a highway accident.  And since a person’s level of impairment remains high for at least a month after he gets high, he remains at increased risk of accident.

In an upcoming article we’ll discuss cannabis control measures and policy issues, including an update on marijuana legalization. In the meantime, if you think that you may be smoking weed just a little too often, then contact your local drug rehab center to find out about available treatment programs.

Read Dr. Douaihy’s paper published in UPMC Synergies at http://www.upmcphysicianresources.com/files/dmfile/S799-UPMC_Synergies_Fall_2013_12.pdf

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