There has been recent debate on the best way to proceed with legalizing medical marijuana, for which ailments, and in some states, for recreational use. But rarely does the discussion include the health effects of marijuana.
“Across the country there’s a legalization movement, but little to push research,” said Karen Rizzo, MD, of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. “From a clinical perspective, it’s like putting the cart before the horse.”
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement against the legalization of marijuana in response to recent laws in Washington state and Colorado permitting use of the drug.
“Making it more available to adults — even if restrictions are in place — will increase the access for teens,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse. “Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development.”
But since it is legal in those states, and others are moving in that direction, it is more important than ever to understand marijuana’s effects on the body.
The medical team at Healthline.com has identified 18 different areas of the body most affected by marijuana use including:
- Respiratory System: “You’re also at increased risk of bronchitis and lung infections.”
- Central Nervous System: “In the hippocampus, THC changes the way you process information, so your judgment may be impaired.”
- Circulatory System: “Within minutes, your heart rate may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute.”
- Immune System: Marijuana may make “you more vulnerable to illness.”
See the full graphic below.