Medicinal and recreational marijuana: what are the risks?

Shawn Van Gerpen, Tamara Vik, Timothy J Soundy
South Dakota Medicine: the Journal of the South Dakota State Medical Association 2015, Spec No: 58-62
With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, the District of Columbia and legislation pending for both medical and recreational marijuana in several other states, it is important for the facts regarding its potential for serious mental health consequences to be known. Little has been said about the psychiatric risks of this substance, particularly in youth. Several studies have shown increased rates of depression, anxiety and schizophrenia among those who use marijuana on a regular basis. In addition, permanent loss of IQ and structural changes in the brain have been demonstrated with habitual use. Legalization of marijuana for recreational use can influence an adolescent's perception of this substance as "safe." In states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, there is the very real problem of "diversion." As many as 34 percent of 12th-graders who use marijuana in states with legalized marijuana had obtained it from a person who had received it through a prescription.

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