Prior to marijuana being legalized for recreational use in some states, there were not many studies on the long-term effects drug. Researchers didn’t have enough evidence to know exactly what kind of adverse effects there were, nor how severe they might be. However, in the past few years there have been more studies commissioned, and some others that were initiated a long time ago that are now starting to yield some results.
One such study on marijuana users was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine that shows that 50% of participants had difficulty with verbal memory loss when compared with non-users. Researchers warn that while this may not seem insignificant at first, it is actually dangerous and very telling as to what sort of damage marijuana can produce over time.
The researchers came up with results after analyzing data taken from over 3,300 people who had agreed to be monitored for a period of 25 years, as part of a long term study called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA). All participants in the study were between the ages of 18 and 30 years old when it started. As part of the study, participants were asked about their marijuana use, and approximately 84% had smoked marijuana at some point within the 25 years.
Now that the laws regarding marijuana use have lightened significantly in some areas, it is likely that more and more people are using the drug, or are at least more willing to discuss their marijuana use openly. Researchers are quickly implementing studies that use these marijuana users as subjects to help determine what other public health risks are involved with the drug. Of particular interest is not just the effects of chronic, daily marijuana use, but the damage caused to developing adolescent and young adult brains. The fact that moderate use over a period of time still yielded noticeable cognitive impairment long after participants stopped using the drug should serve as a clear warning sign for people.
Despite the growing acceptance of the drug in some areas, researchers and clinicians alike continue to caution people against using the drug – warning them of both the immediate and long-term damage that can be caused.