Last week, we shared with you some of the findings of a new study that had evaluated 20 years worth of marijuana research. While not necessarily breaking new ground in its own right, this review does help to compile years' worth of scientific results on the effects of marijuana use into one easily accessible source -- which is all the more important as misinformation continues to cloud public perceptions about the drug. For decades, the average American voter's default stance on marijuana legalization was a resounding and simple "no," but in recent years the drug has become less demonized and in some cases even decriminalized. Medical marijuana is now legal in approximately half of the country, and Colorado and Washington have taken historic steps in legalizing recreational use as well.
While the jury is still out on certain issues, like at what level of THC intoxication does marijuana use impair judgment (and consequently, driving ability), there is plenty that we do know now, thanks to both this review and the research studies that preceded it. In a previous blog entry we outlined and debunked some of the most common myths and misconceptions about marijuana, but here are a few more courtesy of The Washington Post:
- A gateway drug? Unclear: One of the predominant characterizations of marijuana in society has been that of the "gateway drug," namely that smoking marijuana may lead users to taking harder drugs later on to achieve similar highs. And while there is some evidence for this, the Post describes it as "hotly contested," with the study review ultimately concluding that it's not still clear "whether the link [between marijuana and hard drug use] is causal." The research does indicate, though, if anything may be serve as a gateway drug to other narcotics, it's actually tobacco rather than cannabis.
- Marijuana's effect on the brain: The studies on marijuana's impact on mental health are still fairly tenuous and require further research, but current findings seem to indicate that using cannabis can double the risk for psychosis in people already predisposed to the condition. Users who start taking up marijuana in their teen years may also exhibit cognitive impairment and declines in IQ later in life, but this hasn't been conclusively shown yet.
- Marijuana use may heighten other health risks: While the research is far from a definitive cause-and-effect relationship, preliminary findings thus far point to an increased likelihood for chronic bronchitis and potential risks of heart attack for middle-aged and older adults. Regular marijuana use may also foster cardiovascular disease in younger people and potentially testicular cancer as well.
With marijuana legalization increasingly on voters' minds these days, it's important to clear the air of some of the popular misperceptions surrounding it. Part of that awareness is knowing the danger of driving under the influence of marijuana too. If you've been charged with a marijuana DUI in Colorado, contact The Orr Law Firm for expert legal counsel.