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The adverse health effects of cannabis use: what are they, and what are their implications for policy?
BACKGROUNDThe adverse health effects of cannabis are a source of contention in debates about policies towards the drug.
METHODSThis paper provides a review of epidemiological evidence on the major adverse health effects of cannabis use and considers its implications for policy.
RESULTSThe evidence strongly suggests that cannabis can adversely affect some users, especially adolescents who initiate use early and young adults who become regular users. These adverse effects probably include increased risks of: motor vehicle crashes, the development of cannabis dependence, impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease, psychotic symptoms, and adverse outcomes of adolescent development, namely, poorer educational outcomes and an increased likelihood of using other illicit drugs.
CONCLUSIONSPolitically, evidence of adverse health effects favours the status quo in developed countries like Australia where cannabis policy has been framed by the media as a choice between two views: (1) either cannabis use is largely harmless to most users and so we should legalize, or at the very least decriminalize its use; or (2) it harms some of its users so we should continue to prohibit its use.
School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston QLD, 4006, Australia. email@example.com
The International journal on drug policy 20:6 2009 Nov pg 458-66
Drug and Narcotic Control
Respiratory Tract Diseases
Pub Type(s)Journal Article