Exploring the Health Impacts of Cannabis Policies: Perspectives from Experts
Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, has been a topic of debate for several decades. The plant has been used medicinally and recreationally for centuries, but its criminalization in many countries has contributed to the formation of an underground industry. Recently, several countries have started to legalize or decriminalize cannabis, leading to a shift in public opinion towards the plant. However, while the legalization of cannabis may have numerous benefits such as increased tax revenue and decreased crime rates, it also has several potential health impacts. Experts from various domains have shared their perspectives on cannabis policies and its health effects.
The Experts’ Perspectives
Cynthia Cobb, RN, CNS, APRN
According to Cynthia Cobb, a registered nurse and expert cannabis clinician, cannabis can have various health benefits such as pain relief, relaxation, and improved sleep quality. However, she also cautions that cannabis use can lead to side effects such as dizziness, confusion, and increased heart rate. She also mentions that the long-term effects of cannabis are still unknown, and more research is needed to establish its efficacy as a medicine.
Dr. Drew Pinsky
Dr. Drew Pinsky, a medical doctor, television personality, and addiction medicine specialist, has expressed concerns over the potential health impacts of cannabis use, especially for adolescents. He argues that cannabis use while the brain is still developing can lead to long-lasting cognitive impairment, increased risk of addiction, and mental health disorders in some individuals.
Dr. Staci Gruber
Dr. Staci Gruber, a clinical psychologist and cannabis researcher, has conducted numerous studies on the effects of cannabis use on the brain. Her research suggests that long-term cannabis use can lead to changes in brain structure and function, especially in areas related to memory and attention. However, she also highlights that the effects of cannabis on the brain are complex and can vary depending on the individual’s age, frequency, and duration of use, as well as the potency of the cannabis.
The Link between Cannabis Policies and Health Impacts
The legalization or decriminalization of cannabis can affect its health impacts in several ways. When legal, cannabis can be regulated, and its potency, purity, and labeling can be standardized, reducing the risks associated with contaminated or adulterated products. It can also allow for more education about the risks and benefits of cannabis use and help individuals make informed decisions. On the other hand, the legalization of cannabis can also lead to increased accessibility, availability, and normalization of use, especially among vulnerable populations such as adolescents.
Cannabis policies have a significant impact on public health, and it is crucial to consider the perspectives of experts from various domains when making policy decisions. While cannabis has potential health benefits, it also has several potential harms, especially if used in excessive amounts or by vulnerable populations. Therefore, a balanced and evidence-based approach to cannabis policy is necessary to ensure its benefits are maximized while its risks are minimized.
McGuire, P., & Gruber, S. A. (2020). Cannabis and the brain. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264086.013.85
Van den Elsen, G. A., Ahmed, A. I., & Lammers, M. (2021). Legalization of cannabis: Opportunities and challenges for public health. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 649756. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.649756