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October 16, 1981

Marijuana: Its Health Hazards and Therapeutic Potentials

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Scientific Activities, the American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1981;246(16):1823-1827. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320160047034

IT IS perhaps ironic that concomitant with emerging therapeutic possibilities for cannabis and its constituents, new evidence has appeared that marijuana is hazardous to health.

On one hand, we are at the threshold of providing symptomatic relief to some patients who suffer extreme nausea from cancer chemotherapy and for whom existing antiemetic agents are ineffective. On the other hand, we face the growing prospect of an appreciable number of marijuana users incurring physiological and psychological impairment.

For healthy users, occasional ingestion of even relatively potent marijuana might not always constitute a health or social hazard, while regular ingestion or multiple drug use might well do so. For persons at high risk, however, the hazards would be great. Although such persons do not constitute the majority of users, the personal and societal implications of their involvement, given current usage patterns, are of a magnitude to warrant concern.