A Hempfest® Gut Check​

Researchers have found that marijuana is used safely, responsibly, and healthfully by many.

So, what’s the big deal about health? There have been lots of scare stories about pot. You can read a variety of studies about cannabis and health HERE.

So what’s the truth?

  • Adults who don’t have heart disease or psychiatric conditions, don’t get high during pregnancy or when it’s dangerous, and use pot occasionally probably aren’t at risk of any harm to their health.
  • We’re learning a lot about the health benefits from cannabinoids. Keeping marijuana illegal has slowed down research on the drug’s medical and psychological potential.
  • Marijuana’s popularity makes a strong case for its having positive effects. Why else would people enjoy getting high?
  • People who haven’t used marijuana before may experience anxiety or panic reactions.
  • Marijuana with high levels of THC and low levels of CBD may make anxiety or panic more likely.
  • Driving while high can cause accidents due to impaired attention, reaction time, and other skills needed for safe driving.
  • Smoking pot during pregnancy may lead to lower birth weight of the baby.
  • Becoming dependent on pot happens to 33% to 50% of daily users. Teens who begin early are at greater risk of becoming dependent.
  • People with schizophrenia are at risk of a psychotic episode if they use pot.
  • Regular pot smoking contributes to chronic bronchitis (wheeze, chronic coughs).
  • Older adults with heart disease are at increased risk of angina and heart attack after pot use.


Here’s the bottom line:

  • We know much more about pot’s risks than its benefits, partly due to prohibition.
  • Take a look at vaporizers to reduce the risk of lung damage from inhaling smoke.
  • Avoid pot use during pregnancy or while breast feeding.
  • Wait three to four hours after smoking pot before driving.
  • Beginning use during adolescence can cause a number of learning problems.
  • People with a history of schizophrenia need to know they’re at risk of a psychotic episode if they get high.
  • Reduce risk of becoming dependent by using no more than once weekly.


Written by Dr. Roger Roffman, professor emeritus, UW School of Social Work.

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