Marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational use in many states, including California. Many people are in favor of legalization because of the possible medical benefits of the drug, and many people also believe that legalization will lead to less incarceration, illegal drug trafficking, and violence. In some states, taxes from the legal sale of marijuana have been used to fund schools. Despite some of these benefits, the effects of using marijuana can still be dangerous for some people, and legalization is leading to some unintended consequences.
The General Effects of Using Marijuana
In people who aren’t at risk for serious mental conditions, the effects of using marijuana can still be unpleasant. They include:
- Impaired judgment
- Weight gain
- Short-term memory problems
- Loss of motivation
- Coordination problems
In people who are predisposed to addiction or mental illness, the effects can be even worse. Some users who suffer from mood disorders can experience worse symptoms as the result of marijuana use. For people who suffer from schizophrenia, one of the effects of using marijuana can be a psychotic episode. For younger users, such as teenagers, long-term marijuana use can lead to serious emotional and mental defects later in life. Like all substances, marijuana use does carry risk, even if it is generally viewed as a “safe” drug.
The Effects of Using Marijuana on Special Populations
Many of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen an increase in use of the drug in certain populations, and have also seen evidence of how dangerous the substance can be in some situations. In 2016, a survey conducted by the American Medical Association showed a disturbing trend: In 2002, 2.4% of pregnant women reported using marijuana. In 2014, that rate had increased to 4%.
The national trend is that increasing numbers of pregnant women are using marijuana. Hospitals in Colorado, where marijuana is legal, report an increase in the number of babies who test positive for THC (the active chemical in marijuana) at birth (CBS Denver.) The Colorado Springs Gazette also reports that since legalization in the state, there has been an increase in the number of incidents in which young children, usually toddlers, end up in the hospital after eating marijuana edibles. Some people can handle the effects of marijuana, but for young children and babies, the drug can be very damaging.
Marijuana and Pregnancy
Marijuana can be medically beneficial for some specific patients. However, for babies in utero, it can be very damaging. The increase in marijuana use by pregnant women and the increase in incidents in which toddlers consume marijuana are both disturbing trends. This is because the effects of using marijuana can be very serious for people who aren’t fully grown and developed and can be very harmful to babies.
The active ingredients in marijuana appear to slow the growth of tumors and cancer cells. While that could be a great benefit for some patients, experts believe that this also means that marijuana could slow the growth rate of fetuses in the womb, leading to developmental problems (Georgetown University Medical Center.) Studies suggest that babies who are exposed to marijuana are at risk of having low birth weight, preterm (early) birth, and smaller heads.
The effects of using marijuana during pregnancy can also affect children later in life, causing impaired memory skills and a greater risk of developing hyperactivity and attention problems.
Marijuana crosses the placental barrier, meaning that when a pregnant woman using marijuana, it does get into the baby’s bloodstream. There isn’t a whole lot of research on how marijuana can affect developing babies, but what we do have shows that it can have some long-term harmful consequences.
Marijuana use by adults can cause significant developmental issues in their babies and young children. For teenagers and adolescents, using the drug can have lasting impacts on brain development and mental health. While the drug may be relatively safe for some people and even have medical benefits for others, for a large segment of the population it can cause negative social, physical, and mental effects.
For many, the effects of using marijuana can lead to psychological dependence on the drug and addiction. When marijuana is the only coping tool someone has, they can become completely reliant on it, which can harm other aspects of their lives. If you believe you are suffering from marijuana addiction and want help quitting, Wellness Retreat Recovery can assist with comprehensive treatment in a luxury setting. Call us today at 888-821-0238 for help.