The debate around cannabis use, especially its long-term effects, remains a topic of interest and concern. A study suggests that long-term cannabis users may experience a decline in IQ, averaging 5.5 points from childhood, along with deficits in learning and processing speed. This decline appears more pronounced with increased frequency of use, indicating a potential causative relationship between cannabis use and cognitive impairment.
However, this area of research is not without its ambiguities. As cannabis use becomes more openly discussed and legally accessible in many states, the scientific community has been urged to conduct more extensive research, particularly on the effects of marijuana during pregnancy and its developmental impacts on babies’ brains. This call for further study acknowledges the current gaps in understanding the full spectrum of cannabis’ effects.
The health implications of moderate marijuana use are also a subject of ongoing inquiry. Unlike alcohol, whose effects have been extensively studied, marijuana’s impact on health, particularly in moderate use, is less clear. THC metabolites, the byproducts of marijuana use, can remain in the body’s fatty tissues for days or longer in heavy users. The long-term health implications of these metabolites, and their accumulation in the body, are still not fully understood.
Marijuana use also intersects with medical procedures, such as anesthesia. Regular users of marijuana may require different amounts of anesthesia, as both marijuana and anesthesia affect the central nervous system. Additionally, smoking marijuana, the quickest way to feel its effects, exposes users to many of the same harmful substances found in cigarette smoke, which are linked to heart disease and cancer.
Despite these concerns, there are safer ways to use cannabis. Avoiding smoking, which can inflame the lungs, is advised. Instead, using under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topical products, or dry herb vaporizers are suggested. If smoking is the chosen method, it is recommended not to hold the smoke in the lungs for more than a second or two to minimize lung irritation.
Overall, the relationship between cannabis use and cognitive function, as well as its broader health impacts, remains a complex and evolving area of study. The increasing prevalence and legal acceptance of cannabis use make it critical to continue investigating these effects to better inform public health decisions.