Tho’ Legalised Marijuana Remains Dangerous

A recent study from the Columbia University School of Public Health found that while alcohol increased the risk of causing a fatal car crash five times, testing positive for pot increased it by 62 percent. Those drivers who had both pot and alcohol in their blood at the time of a fatal crash were six times more likely to have caused the accident.

Another area of concern is pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends against using marijuana while pregnant – no matter what.

And the Centers for Disease Control warns that “marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.” Why? The CDC points to research showing low birth weight in infants, along with developmental and attention problems in children born to mothers who smoke pot regularly during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, pot smoking among pregnant women is on the rise and it is bound to rise even more. A study just released from Kaiser Permanente in California and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 7 percent of pregnant women surveyed smoked pot, including almost 20 percent of those below the age of 24. The number of pregnant women using marijuana will only increase now that recreational marijuana is legal in California.

When it comes to adolescents and adults, long-term marijuana use has been associated with decreased school and job performance, memory loss, and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression.

With the increase in edible marijuana comes a dramatic increase in Emergency Room visits from overuse, especially among adolescents, who may be getting more THC than they realize. Symptoms include acute anxiety, rapid heart rate and paranoia.

When it comes to the heart, studies show that patients with known heart disease are more likely to have chest pain and that heart attacks are more likely to occur in the hour following smoking pot. Pot smoke is also known to cause wheezing and airway inflammation, though more studies on the long-term effects of regular marijuana smoking on both the heart and lungs need to be done.

Don’t get me wrong. I must emphasize that I am not intending to weigh in here on the politics and economics of legalization. In fact, I have never favored punishing users of any chemical substance and advocate instead for rehab programs and peer-to-peer assistance for substance abuse of all kinds.

But it’s important to note that there is evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs, both licit and illicit, including nicotine. This evidence must concern us even as we try to gain control over the opioid epidemic.

Here’s the bottom line: Marijuana is a useful drug medically when it comes to treating chronic pa

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drlalith

Profile Dr Lalith Mendis Dr Lalith Mendis topped his batch on his graduation from Colombo Medical Faculty in 1976. He won the coveted Final MBBS top student’s Herath Guneratne memorial Prize & gold medal, Prof Rajasuriya Clinical Medicine Prize, Pharmacology Medal, Pathology Medal. He passed the MRCP (Part 1) in 1978. He was Clinical Registrar, Dept of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine (1979 – 1980) & moved to Pharmacology. He won the Commonwealth Scholarship in 1979. His last academic post was as Lecturer in charge Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Kelaniya (1993 – 1999). Dr Lalith Mendis is the Founder Director of the Empathic Learning Centre, He has researched the effect of digital overuse on children & youth and developed empathic therapies to reverse inattention, impulsivity & hyperactivity. Dr Mendis hosts the monthly Digital Forum at his centre and has delivered lectures & conducted seminars on this theme in leading schools & Corporates in Colombo. He has also lectured in Germany, Malaysia & UK. Author of five books on the topic, his books Right Learning & Recovering Childhood, Children Our Heritage & Let the Children Come to Me are in their second print. His books are available from all major bookstores in Colombo. His latest book “Parenting Heart & Brain - in an age of digital domination” has a preface from the former Dean of the Medical faculty of Colombo. “I have been seeing children affected by too much cartoon abuse. This is not about ADHD but normal children with agitation & hyperactivity & inattention in studies”.

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