Doctors advise pregnant women not to use any drugs because they might harm the growing fetus. Some scientific studies have found that babies born to marijuana users were shorter, weighed less, and had smaller head sizes than those born to mothers who did not use the drug. Smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems. Other scientists have found effects of marijuana that resemble the features of fetal alcohol syndrome. There are also research findings that show nervous system problems in children of mothers who smoked marijuana. Researchers are not certain whether a newborn baby’s health problems, if they are caused by marijuana, will continue as the child grows.
Most recent research on the health hazards of marijuana concerns its long-term effects on the body. Studies have examined the brain, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the lungs. Suggestions of long-term damage come almost exclusively from animal experiments and other laboratory work. Observations of marijuana users and the Caribbean, Greek, and other studies reveal little disease or organic pathology associated with the drug.
For example, there are several reports of damaged brain cells and changes in brain-wave readings in monkeys smoking marijuana, but neurological and neuropsychological tests in Greece, Jamaica, and Costa Rica found no evidence of functional brain damage. Damage to whit...
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...operate any vehicle or potentially dangerous equipment while under the influence of marijuana, THC, or any cannabinoid drug with comparable effects. In addition, minorities of marijuana users experience dysphoria, or unpleasant feelings. Finally, the short-term immunosuppressive effects are not well established but, if they exist, are not likely great enough to preclude a legitimate medical use.
The chronic effects of marijuana are of greater concern for medical use and fall into two categories: the effects of chronic smoking and the effects of THC. Marijuana smoking is associated with abnormalities of cells lining the human respiratory tract. Marijuana smoke, like tobacco smoke, is associated with increased risk of cancer, lung damage, and poor pregnancy outcomes. Although cellular, genetic, and human studies all suggest that marijuana smoke is an important risk factor for the development of respiratory cancer, proof that habitual marijuana smoking does or does not cause cancer awaits the results of well-designed studies.
Encyclopedia Britannica 98’-99’
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