Abuja – Despite the steady relaxing of anti-drug law
surrounding cannabis, the medical community is still
split on the safety of the substance. Criticisms around
the safety of the drug have been re-raised following a
new review, published in the journal Addiction.
Among numerous other findings, the review found that
teenagers who regularly smoke marijuana are twice as
likely to suffer from mental disorders and impaired brain
function. Schizophrenia, a severely debilitating mental
disorder, has particularly been linked to heavy marijuana
usage, according to the National Alliance on Mental
Illness in the US. A key study cited in the review found
that 13% of schizophrenia cases could have been
prevented if cannabis use was avoided, this was found in
a 27-year follow-up study of over 50 000 young Swedish
The author of the review, Professor Wayne Hall, says
that the perception of cannabis as a safe drug is due to
an overreaction to previous warnings about its dangers,
which were greatly exaggerated, he told Live Science.
Hall is professor of addiction policy at King’s College
London and a drugs advisor to the World Health
The review also found a 100% increase in car accidents
amongst people who drove after smoking marijuana than
those who didn’t.
Dagga smokers often argue that the drug is not
addictive, another claim that was debunked by the
paper. Hall went as far as to claim that the drugs is just
as addictive as heroin, likely due the narcotic high it
Heart problems were also touched on, with there being
numerous reports of seemingly healthy people,
particularly men, suffering fatal heart attacks after
smoking marijuana. This effect multiplied if subjects
smoked in middle-age. However, these findings are
muddied by the fact that most cannabis smokers also
smoke cigarettes, which have well-documented affects
on the heart.
The key substance in marijuana is delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol, usually referred to as THC. It’s
this ingredient that provides the “high” of marijuana and
is also believed to be at the root of the drug’s health
issues, though a causal link has yet to be established.
Hall reported that the THC content of marijuana has
more than quadrupled since 1980.
One of the most common arguments levelled against
cannabis use is that, while it isn’t dangerous in itself, it is
a gateway to drugs that are. There are no reported
cases of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose, and
it’s a matter of scientific debate as to whether an
overdose is even possible.
The review also found that smoking marijuana was
related to a greatly increased likelihood of dropping out
of school, and that women who smoke while pregnant
are likely to give birth to babies with lower-than-average