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Aftermath of Marijuana Use
June 2003

Q. I have read many articles and websites related to marijuana and it's effects on the body. What concerns me the most is it's effect on the brain. I am embarrassed to say that I have tried this drug before, threes times in the past year to be exact. The last time that I used it, I used a very large amount that rendered me retarded for a few hours. It's been 2 weeks and I continue to feel sleepy and impaired (mentally). I find it more difficult to perform my routine tasks such as studying, work, etc. I would really like to know if this feeling of sleepiness and impaired mental capacity will go away. Would both my mental and physical abilities ever return to their full capacity?

A. Recent surveys indicate that around 12 million Americans use marijuana one or more times per month. Although widely perceived as "safe", there are estimates that 100,000 emergency room visits per year occur in association with marijuana use. Short-term effects on memory, concentration, mood, and coordination are well known. Long-term effects from repeated use raise concerns on affecting brain chemistry, lung function, and the immune system.

Carcinogen levels in marijuana smoke are at higher levels than those in cigarettes, and laboratory studies in mice show evidence that marijuana inhibits some of our natural abilities to fight tumor cells. Similar data are not available in humans, but caution is advised. The current symptoms you describe are likely to lessen with time, but further use does not seem wise!



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