Tag Archives: cannabis

Frequent Marijuana Use Could Damage Eyesight

Researchers in France have released a study that shows a potential link between heavy marijuana use and damaged eyesight. The study was conducted on a small group of regular marijuana users and a small group of people who do not use marijuana. Tests were conducted to gauge how long it took for the subject’s brains to recognize a small light. The results appeared in JAMA Opthalmology.

“Our findings may be important from a public health perspective since they could highlight the neurotoxic effects of cannabis use on the central nervous system as a result of how it affects retinal processing,” explained researchers.

Since the study was small and the first of its kind, there will need to be larger, more extensive research groups in order to find out if there is a real link between marijuana use and poor eyesight. However, the research indicates that there is a strong association that marijuana is somehow negatively impacting retinal ganglion cells within the eye.

Researchers are also unsure of the impact of retinal delays. Some have warned that this could be an indicator of more extreme issues, while others are calling for more research. Regardless of the outcome though, these types of studies provide a different take to marijuana than most people are getting.

There has been a shift in how people view recreational and medical marijuana use that it can be difficult to get all the information. While heroin, cocaine, painkillers and methamphetamine are certainly more harmful than marijuana in so many ways, there are multiple physical and mental side effects caused by cannabis that are continually being documented. Studies like this one show that there is still so much more to learn about the drug, especially as use of it continues to increase.

The impacts of widespread, repeated use seem to be more harmful than many proponents would care to admit. From a treatment perspective alone we see that people do become dependent on the drug, despite the advocates’ claim that it is not addictive.

What are the Economic Effects of Marijuana Use?

clinicalpsyexcelMany researchers throughout the world have continued to investigate the effects of long-term marijuana use. One of the aspects that academics and clinicians are looking into is the economic standing of people who have used marijuana for a sustained periods of time. The results of a recent study indicated that there was a correlation between smoking pot and having inhibited economic conditions.

The details of the study were published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science and compared non-users, short-term users and long-term users of marijuana. Those who engaged in cannabis use more than four times a week for several years were more likely to end up economically worse than their parents. It was more common for these people to have lower paying jobs that require less skill and pay lower wages than people who are not regular users. Additionally, people who abused marijuana frequently were more likely to display behaviors at work like that included stealing or lying to get the job.

When analyzing the data, researchers accounted for varying IQ levels, antisocial behavior and depression in adolescence, higher levels of impulsivity, lower motivation to achieve, criminal conviction of cannabis users, and abuse of alcohol and hard drugs. Despite all these changes, it was still determined that long-term marijuana users were more likely to have a lowered economic status due to their use of the drug.

The study was conducted by an international team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerdá at the University of California, Davis, Health System, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University.

“Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization,” commented Cerdá, “But it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study.”

She brings up a relevant point in what has become a heated topic in some states. For drug prevention and treatment advocates, the mere fact that long-term use of marijuana has been found to be harmful in many ways is reason enough to promote abstinence from the drug, whether it becomes legal or not.

The AMA Amends Policy on Marijuana but Continues to Oppose Legalization

amalogoThe American Medial Association (AMA) recently held its interim meeting in Maryland among its more than 500 House of Delegates. During this meeting the Association recommended and adopted changes to its policy concerning marijuana, while reaffirming its stance against legalization.

As mentioned in the US News & World Report article, the AMA continued its stance against legalizing marijuana by stating that, “cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.” In addition to some reinforcement came recommendations of change and evaluation by noting that, “federal efforts to address illicit drug use via supply reduction and enforcement have been ineffective.”

Both advocates and opponents of marijuana decriminalization commented on the recent changes, each claiming minor victories since the changes also included recommending a “comprehensive review of the risks and benefits of U.S. state-based drug legalization initiatives.”

In addition to many states allowing for medicinal marijuana use, Colorado and Washington have recently approved measures for legalization and regulation of the drug for personal recreational use. Several more state legislatures are considering or preparing bills to reduce criminalization of the drug as well.

While the general consensus is that alcohol is a more serious threat to public health, the dangers of marijuana use cannot be understated. In addition to the continued increase in potency affecting motor skills and judgment, there is the fact that marijuana still represents the highest percentage of addiction treatment admissions among people between the ages of 18 and 30. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), there were nearly 688,000 substance abuse treatment admissions among that age range in 2010. Of these, more than 340,000 reported marijuana abuse, and over 86 percent of those started using cannabis at age 17 or younger, so prevention efforts are essential.

The delicate balance for national drug control policy seems to lie somewhere between allowing people to live their own private lives and make good decisions for themselves vs. enforcing positive influences in public health. Either way, the majority of people who develop substance abuse problems should be given the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation program rather than being incarcerated.