Chapter

Marijuana’s Health Effects

Mitch Earleywine

in Understanding Marijuana

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195138931
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893270 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195138931.003.0007
Marijuana’s Health Effects

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Concerns about marijuana's potential impact on health have generated volumes of research, numerous conferences, and considerable controversy. This chapter addresses marijuana's toxicity, as well as its impact on mental illness, the brain, the pulmonary system, reproduction, pregnancy, and immune function. In general, the drug is incapable of creating an overdose. It can exacerbate the symptoms of some mental disorders but does not appear to cause them. Data fail to show any marijuana-induced changes in brain structure, but long-term exposure to the drug alters the way the brain functions during complex tasks. People who smoke cannabis but not cigarettes have yet to show severe pulmonary problems like lung cancer or emphysema, but milder respiratory problems do appear. Large doses of cannabinoids can cause temporary changes in reproductive hormones and sperm, but these effects reverse with abstinence. The role of cannabinoids in immune function appears extremely complex, but data have yet to show that smoking marijuana increases the rates of infectious disease in humans.

Keywords: marijuana use; cannabis; drug toxicity; health impact; mental illness; brain; pulmonary system; reproduction; immune function

Chapter.  8555 words. 

Subjects: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

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