Marijuana to be legal in the US – Experts ponder the health risks and benefits


With the recent legalization of marijuana in certain states in the US pot smokers have been rejoicing, however there may be more that meets the eye in terms of long-term health problems created by the drug. Washington and Colorado have voted to decriminalize the possession of an ounce of the drug and the law will take effect by Jan 5, 2013.

Professor emeritus Roger Roffman at the School of Social work at the University of Washington is of the opinion that the drug can induce dependency if used daily. Although raising the alarm, the professor has supported the legalization of a small amount of the drug for adults over 21 years of age. Roffman says that marijuana use can affect a person’s ability to think clearly and organize thoughts, if used in large quantities. It also affects multitasking, but not everyone is affected in the same way.

According to Roffman there are certain benefits that the plant can provide for humans, which include a higher sensory experience and the reduction on certain disease symptoms. He goes on to say that social interaction and the ability to relax are other benefits of the drug.

Ruben Baler who is a neuroscientist with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that the THC in marijuana acts as an active ingredient which takes over the job of natural endocannabanoids, which help keep the brain in proper maturation.

Baler also warns of the drug being adverse if it used at an early age, with young people becoming dependant on it along with having a variety of side-effects such as impaired short-term memory loss, slower reaction times and impaired decision making. It can also lead to anxiety and paranoia if taken in large doses.