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Is Marijuana Dangerous?

My husband says marijuana is harmless and non-addictive, or states wouldn’t be legalizing it. I say it is addictive and can lead to more drug use. We have teenagers in the house and need to get on the same page. Who is right?

Answer:

Marijuana use is not harmless. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heavy marijuana use by young people affects brain development. Marijuana has a profound impact on the adolescent brain not only for current cognitive processing but for future development. A large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between ages of 13 and 38. Marijuana is addictive. Up to 17% of users experience dependency and it’s more addictive for young people and daily users. If there is a history of addiction in your family, dependency is likely. Chronic use symptoms include: irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety and drug craving. On whether marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ to abusing other substances, there are mixed opinions. For those with a family history of addiction, Marijuana remains a gateway drug for teens. A Yale study examined data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2006, 2007 and 2008) focusing on a 55,215 sample of 18- to 25-year-olds. It found that among both men and women, those who had used marijuana were 2.5 times more likely than those their age who abstained to later dabble in prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are widely acknowledged as a ‘gateway drug.’ This correlation of data requires further study, but is cause for concern.



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