Pubdate: Fri, 07 Aug 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Lynne Terry


Chronic marijuana use by young teens was not linked with mental or 
physical disorders more than two decades later, a new study found.

Researchers looked at the health records of 400 boys who were 
followed from seventh-grade to the age of 36 in the Pittsburgh Youth 
Study. They included both African Americans and whites and were 
grouped into four categories according to their marijuana use: little 
or no use, early chronic users, those who only smoked marijuana 
during adolescence and those who began using marijuana in their late 
teens and continued into their adulthood.

After controlling for risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol and hard 
drug use or socioeconomic status and health insurance, they found no 
significant difference in those suffering from asthma, allergies, 
high blood pressure and mood disorders as adults.

The results run contrary to other studies.

"What we found was a little surprising," Jordan Bechtold, the lead 
researcher, said in a news release. "There were no differences in any 
of the mental or physical health outcomes that we measured regardless 
of the amount or frequency of marijuana used during adolescence,"

Chronic users bumped up their marijuana use as teens to a peak of 
more than 200 days a year on average when they were 22 years old. 
Their use fell somewhat after that.

The authors noted the study limitations. It does not take into 
account any boys who might have limited their use of marijuana or 
avoided it altogether based on health or risk factors. Perhaps a teen 
predisposed to asthma who might have otherwise been a chronic users 
abstained. There's also the potential that early marijuana use is 
associated with chronic problems much later in life.

Relatively few participants had psychotic symptoms, the study found. 
It did not consider "odd thinking" or a tendency to be suspicious.

"We wanted to help inform the debate about legalization of marijuana, 
but it's a very complicated issue and one study should not be taken 
in isolation," Bechtold said.
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