Even with all of the medical experts advocating for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, there are people who continue to fight legalization due to safety concerns. The argument is often that we just don't know enough about whether or not marijuana is potentially harmful and that more study is needed.
Dr. Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland and his team of researchers are working to gather the information needed to make more informed medical decisions regarding marijuana use. Hall recently authored a paper that was published in the journal, Addiction, regarding reports of the adverse effects of marijuana use from 1993 to 2013, and the study does reveal some positive and negative findings.
About the Study
The University of Queensland study is a landmark study because it examines 20 years worth of studies and reports rather than results observed within one isolated group. Dr. Hall explained that up until now, studies like this were very difficult, but that with the legalization of medical marijuana, usage has increased, giving a larger pool of data to examine.
What the Study Shows
Some of the findings of the University of Queensland study include:
- Pot Is Stronger Now. The concentration of THC is 4 times higher today that it was three decades ago, meaning that the effects of cannabis are now greater than they once were.
- You Aren’t Likely to Overdose on Pot. The study found that in order to suffer a fatal overdose of pot, a person would need to use 15 to 70 grams of the substance per day, which is an incredibly high amount.
- Pot Can Impair Driving Ability. Cannabis slows reflexes, impairs coordination, and affects information processing, so a person who is high on pot could be deadly behind the wheel. In fact, the study found that someone intoxicated by THC was twice as likely to have an accident.
- You Can Get Addicted to Pot. Many people claim that there is no such thing as a pot addiction, but the study found that it is possible. The risk of dependence increases when people begin to use pot as teenagers, with one out of every six teens becoming physically dependent compared to just one out of every 10 adults.
- Heavy Cannabis Usage Could Lower IQ. The study found that people who were very heavy marijuana users for years suffered from drops in IQ scores. The risk does seem to be very low, and is most likely to impact people who begin smoking pot daily throughout their 20s and 30s.
Even though the University of Queensland study does show that people need to use marijuana responsibly and only in moderation, the research did not uncover any smoking guns that would suggest cannabis is too dangerous to legalize.