As cannabis legalization is gaining popularity, people are contemplating the pros and cons of marijuana ingestion. There is little scientifically recognized about cannabis. There are numerous postulations about the possible long-term effects of cannabis, but information from cannabis-related studies is not definitive enough to accept as fact.
People have often been concerned that cannabis leads to psychotic episodes, including bouts of schizophrenic events, depression, and general poor mental health effects. In actuality, it is more likely that cannabis users that have mental health difficulty following marijuana ingestion already had a genetic predisposition to a mental health disorder. The appearance of the symptomology of poor mental health after marijuana ingestion could be a coincidence, or it could be that marijuana drew out the underlying psychosis. Either way, it is relatively agreed upon that marijuana cannot cause a mental health disorder without a predisposition to one. This relationship between mental health and marijuana could be described as a correlation, not a causation [2,4].
Similarly, there has been a noted correlation between cannabis and alcohol use in college students with lowered academic performance. There is not enough evidence to prove this theory, and it could be that students who ingest alcohol and cannabis are self-medicating due to underlying emotional, physical, relational, familial or mental issues that could be the cause of the decline in academic performance .
Cannabis is often, falsely, correlated to harder drug use down the line, but this is not scientifically backed. It is possible that marijuana is the most easily attainable drug leading to some multidrug users starting with marijuana; however, it is impossible to prove whether or not these same multidrug users would have tried multiple drugs if they started using cocaine or MDMA as their first drug interaction .
Legalized recreational cannabis use is so new, so we really don’t definitively know much about it and its effects. Pregnancy and breastfeeding, for example, has been a growing topic of interest surrounding cannabis use. There has been some evidence to prove that cannabis could affect the neurodevelopment of the fetus, while in utero, and the baby, while being breastfed, leading to cognitive and behavioral issues down the line, but here is not enough evidence to prove this definitively .
The bottom line is that we, as a society, really don’t know what to blame or praise cannabis for. What is for certain is that much more potent substances have been legalized in the U.S. for a much longer period of time than cannabis, such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. It is hard to say what’s good and bad for humanity, as a whole, but the individual must decide what’s right and wrong for themselves. What’s most important is that individuals are able to listen to their bodies and do what’s best for their own health, which may look different for everyone.
1. Arria, A. M., Wilcox, H. C., Caldeira, K. M., Vincent, K. B., Garnier-Dykstra, L. M., & O'Grady, K. E. (2012, October 8). Dispelling the Myth of "Smart Drugs": Cannabis and Alcohol Use Problems Predict Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants for Studying. Addictive Behaviors. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460312003383?via%3Dihub
2. Forti, M., & Murray, R. (2011, October 11). Cannabis Consumption and Risk of Developing Schizophrenia: Myth or Reality? Epidemiologia e psichiatria sociale. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16396425/
3. Jaques, S. C., Kingsbury, A., Henshcke, P., Chomchai, C., Clews, S., Falconer, J., Abdel-Latif, M. E., Feller, J. M., & Oei, J. L. (2014). Cannabis, the pregnant woman and her child: weeding out the myths. Journal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal Association, 34(6), 417–424.
4. Ramaekers, J. (2022, March 22). Cannabis crashes: Myths & Truths. Drug and Alcohol Review.
Author: Katrina Peavy
Editors: Lauryn Agron and Liam Lynch
Health scientist: Chantelle Moore