(WTVO) — Marijuana has been considered something of a benign drug in comparison to more addictive substances, but a new study shows serious risks of physical and mental health issues.
After Colorado legalized cannabis in 2012, other states, including Illinois, followed suit. The federal government is working to downgrade the drug from a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD, to a Schedule 3 drug, and toward eventual decriminalization.
Currently, 40 million adults (16% of the population) use cannabis at a rate more than double over the last 10 years, due to a cultural shift that sees more acceptance of the drug for medical and recreational use.
However, researchers from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark concluded that marijuana is not as harmless as proponents would have us believe, noting serious health risks.
Chronic cannabis use raised the risk of major depression, bipolar disorder, and psychosis by four times. Those with depression who self-medicate with marijuana may be causing the opposite effect, the study said.
Researchers also found cannabis use disorder was linked to 30% of schizophrenia diagnoses of Danish men in the year 2021. The data revealed that chronic marijuana was linked to psychotic breaks.
Also alarming, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that marijuana is addictive, with about four million Americans qualifying as having a “marijuana use disorder.”
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that women who use cannabis had a 70% higher risk of having a baby with a major birth defect.
Illinois residents over 21 years of age are legally limited to possessing 30 grams of marijuana flower, or up to 500 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient that causes a “high.”
For edibles, or cannabis-infused gummies, chocolates, or other products, possession is limited to 500 grams.
The state permits a user to possess 5 grams of cannabis concentrates, such as waxes or oils.
However, the law allows for a person to possess a maximum amount of flower (30 gm), THC (500 mg), and edibles (500 gm) all at the same time.
Nine health departments in northern Illinois issued a health warning on the dangers of recreational marijuana in 2020, that included the following:
Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Don’t use marijuana if pregnant or breastfeeding. Using marijuana can affect the health of your baby. Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight babies and may harm the growth and development of your baby’s brain. Because of the way marijuana is stored and released in the body, your baby could be exposed through breastmilk even after you stop using marijuana.
Youth And The Developing Brain
Marijuana use can cause problems with short term memory, learning, and even intelligence. Your brain continues to develop until age 25 and studies have shown that marijuana use in young people can impair development. The purchase and use of marijuana is illegal for those under 21.
Mental Health Impacts
Marijuana can be an addictive drug. One (1) in 10 users will become addicted. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes you feel “high.” Higher THC concentrations have been linked to increased risk for addiction. Regular use of marijuana increases your risk for anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
Impacts On The Lung and Heart
Smoking marijuana can harm lung tissue and cause damage to small blood vessels. Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
Know The Facts & Keep Others Safe
Before using marijuana, know the facts and keep others safe. Using marijuana or other THC products, can impair your judgement. Do not drive or perform other tasks that could be a risk if you have used marijuana. Just because it is legal, does not mean it is allowed by your employer. Using marijuana could cost you your job. Make sure that children and pets do not have access to marijuana. Protect kids from secondhand smoke. Think about those around you before you use and avoid exposing others without their knowledge and consent.