Studies in test tube environments have proved that cannabis affects the response of T cells and macrophages considerably. There is clear evidence that alveolar macrophages are directly affected by smoking marijuana though this is attributed to components other than THC, which is the main psychoactive ingredient. Other studies as to the effect of cannabis on HIV infected people have offered mixed results. Nevertheless laboratory and animal tests have clearly confirmed marijuana smoke to be mutagenic and carcinogenic which gives enough reason to abstain from it. [Wayne Hall]
Legalizing marijuana (Impact on Adolescents)
The effect of legalizing marijuana on adolescents is of significant concern for parents and pediatricians. The American Academy of pediatrics has recently published its policy stand on legalizing marijuana and its potential for abuse by adolescents. Just as alcohol and tobacco are widely abused by adolescents legalizing marijuana would just open the gates for adolescents. The direct implication is that by legalizing the drug for adults we would be indirectly and inadvertently giving adolescents easy access to marijuana, and there is nothing to stop their inquisitive minds from trying the drug. [Edward A. Jacobs]
Publicizing marijuana as a harmless drug only aggravates the problem. A drug that contains most of the carcinogens that are present in tobacco, alongside tar and other harmful chemicals cannot be endorsed as harmless. Furthermore, there are neurological problems associated with smoking marijuana. Studies have recorded motor deficits, cognitive impairment, loss of short-term memory, loss of concentration and associated attention disorder in subjects abusing marijuana. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, "Young people who begin marijuana use at an early age when the brain is still developing may be more vulnerable to problems with memory, attention span, and learning,"[Education News] Further, it is a commonly shared view that marijuana would become a gateway drug for other potent and dangerous drugs.
Any drug that alters the brain chemistry, impairs cognitive functions, and creates an addictive personality cannot be recommended as safe even under medicinal contexts. Firstly, it would be a grave mistake to circumvent the standard FDA procedure (classified as schedule drug 1) of approval for drugs and legalize marijuana citing medicinal benefits. Secondly, even for medical conditions where marijuana is supposedly effective we have comparatively safer and non-addictive synthetic drugs. With potential risk for lung, throat and thoracic cancers and proven negative effects in schizophrenic patients marijuana definitely poses a long-term health hazard. While there is no suppressing the fact that controlling illegal marijuana use continues to be a financial and administrative bottleneck they are overridden by the potential harmful health consequences of legalizing marijuana.
1) Edward A. Jacobs, "Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth,"
PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 6 June 2004, pp. 1825-1826
2) Wayne Hall, Louisa Degenhardt and Michael Lynskey, "The Health and Psychological Effects of Cannabis Use," Chapter 5, Monograph Series No 44, 2nd Edition,
Accessed on March 24th 2005,
3) Natalie D. Veen et.al, "Cannabis Use and Age at Onset of Schizophrenia,"
American Journal of Psychiatry 161:501-506, March 2004
5) DA Treffert, "Marijuana Use in Schizophrenia: a clear hazard,"
American Journal of Psychiatry 1978; 135:1213-1215
6) NCADI, "Marijuana," Accessed on March 23rd 2005, http://store.health.org/catalog/facts.aspx?topic=54
7) "Education News, "Marijuana Use Negatively Impacts Teen
Learning And Academic Success, Experts Say,"
Accessed on March 24th 2005,
8) Alan Freeman, "Researchers Warn Marijuana is Worse than Tobacco for Your Lungs and is Linked to Schizophrenia," Accessed on march 25th 2005,
9) DEA, "Exposing the Myth of Smoked Medical Marijuana
Marijuana: The Facts," Accessed on March 24th 2005, http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/ongoing/marijuana.html
10) David Evans, "Don't legalize Medical Use of Marijuana,"
Accessed on March 23rd 2005,