There is a popular misconception that marijuana use is just a harmless recreational activity, but recent studies have shed light on the serious risks associated with it.

Here are eight startling effects of marijuana use that you need to know.

1. Decreased Birthweight and Impaired Brain Development: A study published in the journal Frontiers In Pediatrics revealed that marijuana use during pregnancy can reduce a newborn’s birthweight by approximately one-third of a pound. Lower birthweight is linked to health problems and developmental delays as children grow. Additionally, the study found that babies exposed to marijuana in the womb may have smaller head circumferences, indicating inadequate brain development during pregnancy.

2. Increased Risk of Infant Mortality and Preterm Birth: Research from California highlighted that infants born to heavy marijuana-using mothers were 35% more likely to die within the first year of birth. Infants also faced a higher risk of being born prematurely, having low birth weight, and being small for their gestational age.

3. Impaired Cognitive Function and Memory: Marijuana use can negatively impact cognitive function, memory, and attention, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Studies have shown that regular use of marijuana can lead to impaired cognitive abilities, hindering academic and professional performance.

4. Coordination and Motor Skills Impairment: Marijuana use may affect coordination and motor skills, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Impaired motor skills can impact daily activities and compromise safety, especially when operating vehicles or engaging in tasks requiring precise movements.

5. Association with Heart Diseases: The American Heart Association warns that marijuana use is scientifically linked to heart diseases. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that frequent marijuana users under the age of 45 were approximately twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack compared to non-users.

6. Lung Damage and Chronic Respiratory Issues: Smoking marijuana regularly has been associated with chronic cough and increased phlegm production. The American Lung Association unequivocally states that “Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung,” underscoring the harm it does to respiratory health.

7. Increased Risk of Schizophrenia and Psychotic Episodes: Heavy marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. A study published in The Lancet highlighted that using marijuana with high levels of THC was associated with an elevated risk of psychosis. Another study published in the same journal found that marijuana with THC levels exceeding 10% increased the odds of experiencing a psychotic episode.

8. Rise in Self-Harm Rates: In states where commercial marijuana sales were legalized, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed a disturbing 46% increase in self-harm rates among men aged 21 to 39. This suggests a potential correlation between marijuana availability and self-destructive behavior.

Marijuana use isn’t just a “recreational” activity. From the risks to fetal development to cognitive impairment, heart diseases, and mental health issues, one thing is clear: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.

Articles on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.