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The adverse health effects of cannabis use: what are they, and what are their implications for policy?

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The adverse health effects of cannabis are a source of contention in debates about policies towards the drug.

METHODS

This paper provides a review of epidemiological evidence on the major adverse health effects of cannabis use and considers its implications for policy.

RESULTS

The 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.

CONCLUSIONS

Politically, 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.

Links

  • Publisher Full Text
  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston QLD, 4006, Australia. w.hall@sph.uq.edu.au

    Source

    MeSH

    Accident Prevention
    Accidents, Traffic
    Adolescent
    Adult
    Animals
    Cardiovascular Diseases
    Crime
    Drug and Narcotic Control
    Educational Status
    Government Regulation
    Health Policy
    Humans
    International Cooperation
    Marijuana Abuse
    Neurotoxicity Syndromes
    Public Health
    Public Opinion
    Respiratory Tract Diseases
    Risk Assessment
    Young Adult

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Review

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    19362460