January 31, 2017 – Harms of Cannabis


Anchor lead: Although there are some benefits to marijuana use there are also harms, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Cannabis or marijuana use can help people with cancer, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis, a National Academy of Sciences panel concludes, but significant harms can also accrue with use of the drug. William Checkley, a panel member from Johns Hopkins, describes some of them.

Checkley: Long term cannabis use is associated with worsened respiratory symptoms and chronic bronchitis. There was moderate evidence that if you stop smoking cannabis there was resolution of these symptoms. There was also an association with low birth weight. Pregnant women who smoked cannabis would have babies that were smaller in size at birth. Also on the harm side there were associations between cannabis use and development of schizophrenia.  :26

Checkley says these are clearly observations that have not been studied in a rigorous scientific way but they are sufficient to raise concerns. He says an additional risk includes driving while in the acute phase of cannabis intoxication. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.