New report summarizes marijuana health impacts

  • Tuesday, January 31, 2017 4:01pm
  • News

Since the legalization of marijuana in Washington, there has been renewed interest in the scientific evidence related to marijuana and health.

Now, thanks to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (aka The Academies), a new report details what is known and what isn’t. Importantly, the Academies’ report rates how strong the evidence for each health impact is, according to a blog about the study from Public Health – Seattle & King County:

Report highlights

Some of the conclusions in the nearly 400-page report include:

• Long-term marijuana smoking is associated with respiratory symptoms and more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes

• There is substantial evidence suggesting an association between marijuana use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes

• Smoking marijuana during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weights

• Marijuana use is associated with the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, especially among frequent users

• Strong evidence supports the conclusion that marijuana is associated with helpful therapeutic effects for some medical conditions, including chronic pain in adults and nausea from chemotherapy

You can learn more about these conclusions and others in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report.

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s contributions

Public Health – Seattle & King County is working to answer some of the questions health experts still have about marijuana and health. Through a partnership on a National Institute on Drug Abuse research grant, Public Health – Seattle & King County is researching whether local marijuana policies have an effect on health and other outcomes in our state.

For example, if a local city or county restricts marijuana sales to specific business zones or bans sales from near parks or youth-heavy areas, does that have any correlation with youth marijuana use or crime?

Dr. Julia Dilley, the study’s principal investigator in a partnership with the Multnomah County Health Department stated, “Public Health – Seattle & King County team members bring unique public health legal expertise to our study. This expertise, coupled with their experience in building a policy surveillance system to track policies over time, is critical to understanding the role that local governments can play in keeping their communities healthy. As a result, our study will help to specifically identify “best practices” for policies that regulate marijuana to protect youth and public safety.”

The results of this grant and the information provided in The Academies’ report may inform future public health policies related to marijuana.

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