Babyboomer parents and grandparents often wonder how it is possible that their kids may suffer grave consequences from smoking pot when they themselves turned out just fine. Legal troubles aside, researchers have found plenty of new evidence that Marijuana's health risks haven been vastly underestimated by the users of yesteryear.
Pot also packs a bigger wallop now than it did in the '70s. Marijuana has become more potent exposing users to much higher levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The brain's functioning is greatly impacted by increasing impact of THC on its metabolism.
Using modern brain imaging, scientists have found that vital brain activities decline with the consumption of Marijuana, and the data shows that the effects are long-lasting – if damages can be reversed is largely unknown. Another big unknown is how a person's genes and environment may cause the development of psychiatric disorders. Some studies have concluded that people with a certain gene variant are several times more likely to develop schizophrenia after repeated Marijuana consumption.
However, there are also voices of caution among Marijuana researchers that findings of those studies cannot be applied to the public at large. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California doesn't believe there is any compelling evidence that people develop more psychiatric problems, anxiety, depression, or even psychosis as a result of marijuana use. He says that if there was such a causal effect, the surge of the drug's popularity in the '60s and '70s should have seen a distinct increase in cases of schizophrenia – which is apparently not the case.
Whichever way you choose to look at it, the statistics give good reason to be cautious: A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that among marijuana users over age 12, almost 35 percent used marijuana 20 or more days in the past month.