Oxford, United Kingdom: Moderate cannabis use, even long-term, is “relatively safe” when compared to the health effects of other recreational intoxicants, according to a scientific review published in the February issue of the journal Current Opinion in Pharmacology.
“A review of the literature suggests that the majority of cannabis users, who use the drug occasionally rather than on a daily basis, will not suffer any lasting physical or mental harm,” writes the study’s author, Dr. Leslie Iversen of the University of Oxford. “Overall, by comparison with other drugs used mainly for ‘recreational’ purposes, cannabis could be rated to be a relatively safe drug.”
The author concludes that there is little evidence that long-term cannabis use causes permanent cognitive impairment or has an adverse effect on global intelligence. Iversen does acknowledge, however, that smoking marijuana long-term may cause “the possibility of damage to the airways,” though he admits that “little progress has been made in quantifying such risks.” The author also notes that various longitudinal studies have found an association between the long-term, heavy use of cannabis and specific adverse psychosocial features, including lower educational achievement, though he acknowledges that there exists no “clear cause and effect relationship to explain the psychosocial associations.”
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre praised the review, stating: “Marijuana is not a harmless substance, though its scientifically acknowledged harms are quite minimal compared to other legally regulated intoxicants, including alcohol and tobacco. By far the greatest danger to health posed by the responsible use of cannabis in the United States today stems from a criminal arrest or conviction.”
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.