A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that marijuana use is linked to several significant adverse effects, including addiction. The study explains that the risk for addiction increases for daily or young users, and it may be associated with an increased vulnerability to other drugs.

The study authors analyze data showing that marijuana impairs driving, which increases the risk of a car accident. This impairment is compounded further when combined with alcohol. Because older studies are based on the effects of lower-potency (less delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) marijuana, researchers note that greater adverse health effects may occur with today’s potent marijuana.

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Other areas of research include possible health effects of secondhand marijuana smoke, the long-term impact of prenatal marijuana exposure; the therapeutic potential of individual chemicals found in the marijuana plant, and effects of marijuana legalization policies on public health.

Research regarding the impact of marijuana on teens suggest that marijuana impairs critical thinking and memory functions during use and that these effects last for days after using. Further, a long-term study showed that regular marijuana use in the early teen years lowers IQ into adulthood, even if users stopped smoking as adults.

Study authors conclude that marijuana use is likely to increase as state and local policies move toward legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. With increased use, the number of people likely to experience adverse effects may increase as well.

For more information visit NIH.gov.