The debate over cannabis’s safety and potential risks continues, with various studies offering insights into its impact on health. One key aspect under scrutiny is its addictive nature. Unlike alcohol, where even infrequent consumption can lead to issues, cannabis-related problems typically arise from daily, multiple-times-a-day use. This distinction raises questions about what constitutes heavy use and the threshold for addiction.
When considering safe cannabis use, experts suggest avoiding smoking, which can inflame the lungs. Alternatives include under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topical products, or dry herb vaporizers. Interestingly, smoking cannabis and holding it in the lungs for more than a second or two doesn’t enhance the effect; rather, it just irritates the lungs. Additionally, it’s advised not to drive for at least four hours after consumption.
The impact of marijuana on memory is another area of concern, particularly due to THC’s interaction with brain regions crucial for memory formation, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. This raises questions about the long-term cognitive effects of both medical and recreational marijuana use.
Mental health risks associated with cannabis are also significant, especially for individuals with a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia. Early use in adolescence, in these cases, may not be advisable as cannabis can trigger psychotic symptoms and potentially exacerbate issues related to psychosis and schizophrenia.
While access to marijuana is increasing, its benefits and risks are still not fully understood. Studies have shown that marijuana can cause a faster heartbeat and a rise in blood pressure, posing potential dangers for those with heart disease. The risk of heart attack is reportedly higher in the hour after smoking marijuana. Research also links marijuana use to atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm problem.
The effects on developing babies during pregnancy and the long-term impact on reward processing in the brain are areas needing more exploration. Some studies suggest that marijuana might have pulmonary benefits due to the deep inhalation method used during smoking, which could potentially expand lung volume and strengthen chest wall muscles. This notion, however, remains controversial and warrants further investigation.