A Look At How Marijuana Affects Health

Jul 28, 2014


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"This summer, New York has become the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. The new law won't take effect for 18 months. And when it does, the measure puts very tight limits on how the marijuana can be administered: by pill or vapor, but not smoked. There are just ten illnesses that qualify for a prescription for medical marijuana. Serious conditions, such as Cancer, HIV, Parkinson's, and ALS. Dr. J. Michael Bostwick is a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic. When we spoke with him last fall, he had just published a major paper on the health effects of medical marijuana," says host Barbara Lewis. 

Interview highlights

Marijuana use and schizophrenia 

"It doesn't cause schizophrenia. The association is with the disease coming out earlier and more intensely. And then if the person continues to use it, the person having a rockier course with the disease."

Danger of teens using alcohol vs. marijuana 

"The principle that might link them both is that the brain is still developing. It's being remodeled in adolescents. And if you introduce substances that are potentially going to interfere with that then you can get into terrible trouble. Alcohol actually has a higher rate of addiction, and has many other complications that are life-threatening, in high doses, that marijuana doesn't have."

Is marijuana addictive? 

"There's no question it's addictive. Studies have shown that about ten percent of people who use it will become addicted to it, which is actually less than alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and other substances.. .some of which are legal."