Is Cannabis Harmful? Harvard Health Insights on Marijuana Use and Effects


Is Cannabis Harmful? Harvard Health Insights on Marijuana Use and Effects

With the growing legalization and use of marijuana, both for medical and recreational purposes, it’s crucial to understand its effects and how to use it safely. Researchers, including those at Harvard Health, have investigated various aspects of cannabis use, shedding light on its potential risks and safe usage guidelines.

Harvard Health emphasizes safe cannabis use, advising against smoking due to potential lung inflammation. They recommend alternative methods such as under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topicals, or dry herb vaporizers. If smoking is the chosen method, it’s advised not to hold the smoke in the lungs for more than a second or two to minimize lung irritation.

However, there are concerns about the long-term cognitive effects of cannabis. Studies indicate that long-term users could experience an average decline of 5.5 IQ points from childhood, with deficits in learning and processing speed, especially in those who used cannabis more frequently. This raises questions about the potential causative link between cannabis use and cognitive impairment.

Regarding withdrawal symptoms, some cannabis researchers describe serious effects, including aggression, anger, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, anorexia, depression, restlessness, headaches, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms suggest significant challenges in reducing or stopping cannabis use.

Marijuana’s effects on memory are also noteworthy. THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, attaches to receptors in brain regions crucial for memory formation, potentially impacting long-term memory in regular users.

There are also cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, posing dangers for individuals with heart disease. Research indicates a higher risk of heart attack shortly after smoking marijuana, and a possible link to atrial fibrillation.

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Interestingly, cannabis use among older adults is on the rise, with reduced stigma and increased acceptance, particularly for medical purposes.

It’s essential to navigate the paradox of marijuana’s widespread use and the medical community’s understanding of its effects. As legalization spreads, public experience with marijuana grows, but comprehensive medical insights remain crucial for informed decisions.

For more detailed insights and information, visit the following links:
How to Manage Cannabis Withdrawal
Safe Cannabis Use
Cognitive Effects of Cannabis
Medical Cannabis Questions
Marijuana’s Safe Use and Addiction
Effects on Memory
Risks for Your Heart
Older Adults and Medical Marijuana

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