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Why Is Marijuana Harmful?


August 23rd, 2011 – Posted by James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S. in Doctors Office

      


Question:  Will you lay out some proven reasons why smoking marijuana is absolutely harmful to good health? I am a parent and need some specific ammunition in the constant arguments about this. My boys (in high school) are in athletics and don’t smoke as far as I know, but many of their friends do, and it seems to be such an accepted thing to do at this age. Not only is marijuana smoking disgusting, but from what I have heard, it is harmful.

 Answer:  What you have heard is right – it is harmful. According to Addiction Medicine: State of the Art 1997, marijuana is a mood-altering drug capable of producing dependency. It is known to affect judgment, thinking (especially attention and memory) and motor coordination. Operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, after smoking marijuana is very dangerous.

Medical conditions include lung damage, bronchitis and an increased risk of cancer. Marijuana causes a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and changes in electrical conduction through the heart. It leads to alteration in hormone levels and may affect ovulation.  Chronic use of marijuana causes EEG (brain wave) changes. Children and adolescents are at high risk of delays and disturbances in their psychological development by frequent marijuana use.

The developing fetus may be affected by low birth weight and shortened gestation because of marijuana use during pregnancy. People with a pre-existing chemical dependence, or a family history of chemical dependence, are at greater risk of developing dependency or relapse into other drugs of choice (including alcohol and tobacco) with occasional marijuana use.


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