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November 1, 2016

Monitoring Marijuana Use in the United StatesChallenges in an Evolving Environment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, Maryland
  • 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. 2016;316(17):1765-1766. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.13696

In 2014, an estimated 22.2 million Americans aged 12 years or older had used marijuana in the past month.1 Under federal law, marijuana is considered an illegal Schedule I drug. However, over the last 2 decades, more than half of the states have allowed limited access to marijuana or its components, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol, for medical reasons.2 More recently, 4 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Currently, evidence for the therapeutic benefits of marijuana are limited to treatment and improvements to certain health conditions (eg, chronic pain, spasticity, nausea).3 Recreational use of marijuana is established by patterns of individual behaviors and lifestyle choices. In either case, use of marijuana or any of its components, especially in younger populations, is associated with an increased risk of certain adverse health effects, such as problems with memory, attention, and learning, that can lead to poor school performance and reduced educational and career attainment, early-onset psychotic symptoms in those at elevated risk, addiction in some users, and altered brain development.47

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