The Boulder County Healthy Futures Coalition has identified marijuana as a priority issue to address in our community. Although marijuana may help reduce symptoms of certain medical conditions, it may have some harmful effects depending on how often it is used. There is clear evidence that regular use of marijuana increases the risk of learning problems, accidents, physical and mental health problems, and addiction.
The brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. The adolescent years represent a critical time for brain development, making youth especially vulnerable to marijuana use. Regular marijuana use among teens has been linked to irreversible and long-term:
- Impaired learning
- Impaired memory
- Decreased IQ
Use and access to marijuana by children and adolescent creates safety concerns including:
- Accidents as a result of impaired driving
- Accidental ingestion
- Accidental overdose from high potency edibles
- Secondhand smoke exposure
Marijuana use among adolescents and teens has been linked with serious mental health issues such as psychosis and schizophrenia, especially among those with a family history of mental illness. The potential for depression and anxiety may also be higher among teen marijuana users. Mood and anxiety disorders occur more frequently in individuals that have become dependent on marijuana use.
Cardiovascular & Respiratory Issues
Smoking marijuana can have long-term health effects including lung and mouth damage and cancer and respiratory problems ranging from chronic cough and colds to respiratory infections including bronchitis and pneumonia. Smoking marijuana can also expose others to the health effects of secondhand smoke.
Pregnancy & breastfeeding
As with alcohol and cigarettes, marijuana exposure during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is not recommended. There is some evidence marijuana use during pregnancy can result in:
- Certain birth defects
- Symptoms similar to fetal alcohol syndrome
- Stillbirth or miscarriage
- Irritability and/or poor sleep in the infant
- Marijuana & Reproduction/Pregnancy Fact Sheet (University of Washington)