Media Release 11 April 2020
Two important studies released over the past week have further highlighted the health concerns of cannabis and its potential legalisation.
The first, a review and meta-analysis with over 23,000 participants conducted by researchers from Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Calgary and published in the JAMA Network Open, found that 47% of regular marijuana users experience symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS) when they cease use of the drug. The study’s authors said that because “many CWS criteria are depression or anxiety symptoms, regular users may seek cannabis to obtain short-term symptom relief, unaware that this use could perpetuate a longer-term withdrawal problem.”
The second, a review of recent research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, states that in the states that have legalised marijuana, prices for the drug have decreased, while use and dependence has increased among adults. Furthermore, the review states that the risk of dependence has risen from around 9% in the early 1990s, to nearly 30% today.
The review also draws a comparison between the tactics of Big Tobacco who worked hard to deny or minimise the evidence between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and Big Marijuana now – and how the cannabis industry and its supporters – including here in New Zealand – work to deny or minimise the evidence showing use of the drug increases the risk of psychosis.
“According to virtually every scientific review, including a 2016 World Health Organisation (WHO) report and a 2017 National Academy of Sciences study, marijuana is addictive and harmful, despite rhetoric from the cannabis industry. Direct associations have been made between the frequency of marijuana use and higher THC potency with the development of mental health issues – psychosis, depression, anxiety, suicidality, reshaping of brain matter, and addiction. Links to lung damage and serious cardiovascular problems have also been found – hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Chronic adolescent marijuana use has been correlated with cognitive impairment and a decreased ability to do well in work or school,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Drug users should receive all the help they can to overcome their addiction and to become drug-free, but the health, rights and protection of the general public should take precedence over the rights of individuals to get high and who want to normalise drug use in our communities.”