Be informed before you choose

It is a controversial issue: Marijuana. The U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, is” emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy.”

Dr. Adams said, “Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misconceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also is informing about the use of marijuana. Nora Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), advises that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved “medical marijuana.”

“However,” Dr. Volkow said, “safe medicines based on cannabinoid chemicals derived from the marijuana plant have been available for decades and more are being developed.” There are still many unknowns about marijuana use of the botanical variety.

“It is particularly important for people to understand what is known about both the adverse health effects and the potential therapeutic benefits linked to marijuana.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that though marijuana is legal in many states, that doesn’t mean it is safe. Using marijuana at an early age can lead to negative health consequences, such as:

— Damage memory, learning and attention.

— Using marijuana during pregnancy or while breast feeding may harm the baby just as alcohol and tobacco can.

— It is not yet known if marijuana use causes schizophrenia, but using it has been linked to depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

— Smoking, including marijuana, can damage lungs and the cardio vascular system.

About one in 10 marijuana users will become addicted, CDC advises. In those younger than age 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.

The Surgeon General states that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. “It acts by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce a variety of effects including euphoria, intoxication and memory and motor impairments. These same cannabinoid receptors are also critical for brain development. They are part of the endocannabinoid system, which impacts the formation of brain circuits important for decision making, mood and responding to stress.”

What does all of that mean? Using marijuana is risky business. How will you know whether or not you will be adversely affected by using it?

Dr. Adams advises, “The risks of physical dependence, addiction and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC and the younger the age of initiation. Higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia and psychosis. Edible marijuana takes time to absorb and to produce its effects, increasing the risk of unintentional overdose, as well as accidental ingestion by children and adolescents. In addition, chronic users of marijuana with a high THC content are at risk for developing a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which is marked by severe cycles of nausea and vomiting.

Although some states have legalized marijuana use, the sale or possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Surgeon General reported.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.