WVXU: Health benefits and risks to recreational marijuana

Issue 2 passed in Ohio on Nov. 7 with more than 55% of the vote, legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. 

The University of Cincinnati's LaTrice Montgomery, PhD, joined WVXU's Cincinnati Edition to discuss the potential health benefits and risks associated with cannabis use. Montgomery studies cannabis use disorder, particularly around young adults using blunts, hollowed out cigars where tobacco is partially or fully replaced with marijuana.

The wide variety of cannabis products makes it difficult for researchers looking to make strong conclusions, Montgomery said. 

"I think as legalization increases, it’s going to become more and more important for us to get more and more specific about the products that we’re talking about in our research as well as the dosage, specific strains, etc. in order to really make strong public health impact statements," said Montgomery, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience in UC's College of Medicine and a licensed clinical psychologist. "As we think about legalization here in Ohio, we have to get really thoughtful about the education we provide."

While many people commonly claim that cannabis is not addictive, cannabis addiction or cannabis use disorder is listed in the industry standard handbook in the substance abuse section along with other stimulants like alcohol and cocaine. There are 12 symptoms that describe cannabis use disorder, including cannabis use impairing your ability to go to work or school, withdrawal symptoms similar to nicotine withdrawal and unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use.

"Although when we think of cannabis versus opiates and some other drugs you mights say, 'Well, cannabis isn’t killing anybody and it’s not causing all those huge issues,' it does cause impairment," Montgomery said. "It is important for us to know that, and that’s why I am glad to see here in Ohio now that there will be at least a portion of the funds dedicated to education around this issue."

Listen to the Cincinnati Edition episode.

Featured photo at top of marijuana leaves. Photo/Jeff W/Unsplash.

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