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Nov-08-2007 05:10printcomments

Study Shows Surprisingly Few Negative Impacts on Kids Who Use Marijuana

They cut class and don't always have the best relationships with their parents, but youth today who smoke cannabis may not face the perils suggested by traditional institutions.

Kid smoking pot
The report from the AMA's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine blows away years of anti-drug theories established in the United States. This photo courtesy: nextraterrestrial.com, other photos courtesy: bet.com and canadianparents.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - The oldest continuously published pediatric journal in the country, a Journal of the American Medical Association called the "Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine", has released new information indicating that pot smoking teens tend to function at better levels than teens who also smoke tobacco, and better in some ways than kids who abstain from both.

Completed in Switzerland, the study also found that those who use only cannabis were more socially driven, and showed no more psychosocial problems than those who had never taken either of the substances.

As far as marijuana leading to harder drugs, the authors of the study say an accurate listing of the problems actually fall in a different order, and that cancer related illnesses suffered by cigarette smokers are the biggest risk of all.

"The gateway theory hypothesizes that the use of legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) is the previous step to cannabis consumption. However, recent research also indicates that cannabis use may precede or be simultaneous to tobacco use and that, in fact, its use may reinforce cigarette smoking or lead to nicotine addiction independently of smoking status."

The study conducted by J. C. Suris, M.D., Ph.D., University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and team examined information from a 2002 national survey, involving 5,263 Swiss citizens aged 16-20 years. 455 smoked just marijuana, while 1,703 smoked both tobacco and marijuana. Another 3,105 students in the study had never used either substance.

Some Go Without a Cigarette - Characteristics of Cannabis Users Who Have Never Smoked Tobacco, finds that, "Interestingly, our results do not confirm our hypothesis of better overall functioning among abstainers. In fact, what our research indicates is that the main difference between COG (cannabis-only group) youth and abstainers is that the former are more socially driven: they are significantly more likely to practice sports, and they have a better relationship with their peers."

The article says there are some drawbacks, and one of those is an affect on school attendance. But overall, the study indicates few notable problems in the youth who smoke marijuana.

"Even though they are more likely to skip class, they have the same level of good grades; and although they have a worse relationship with their parents, they are not more likely to be depressed. Nevertheless, our results seem to indicate that, although typical of the adolescence process, having good support from friends together with a less solid relationship with parents is a risk factor for occasional cannabis use."

The study says abstainers, kids who have never used cannabis or other illegal drugs, "were less socially engaged and had a stronger orientation toward school."

It confirms that substance use, at least tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis, is largely used by adolescents for socializing purposes. They suggest that this fact could explain the difference between COG youth and abstainers regarding peer relationships.

Other findings indicate that having a good relationship with a best friend was related to increased use of cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco.

Similarly, it was reported that although abstainers are successful in many social arenas, "they socialize less frequently with friends than youth who drink," while a Finnish study indicated that, "moderate use of alcohol among adolescents was associated with a positive self-image in social relationships."

This information would undoubtedly apply differently in the United States where trends have moved toward zero tolerance in recent years, with no legal options for legal underage drinking. Many European nations are more tolerant on this issue.

Another study referenced in the article that was performed in New Zealand, also indicated an association between a high level of connectedness to friends and an increased level of smoking and use of cannabis in the previous month.

"In addition, and contrary to previous research," the study states, "our study does not confirm the negative effect of cannabis on academic performance among COG youth. In our case, they are more likely to be high school students and they report similar grades as abstainers, even though they skip class more often."

However, they say that compared with abstainers, COG adolescents are more likely to have been drunk or to have used illegal drugs in the previous month.

Story continues below


"Although this finding might be part of the exploratory behavior this specific group seems to have, there is research11 indicating that compared with nonusers, cannabis users have more frequent access to other drugs, such as -methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy)."

But on the other hand, the findings indicate that these youth who use cannabis tend to have a worse relationship with their parents than abstainers.

"Because their school results are not worse, it could be hypothesized that the worse relationship they have with their parents is more likely due to their drug consumption."

They say the main strength of their study is that it is based on a nationally representative sample of adolescents.

"Nevertheless, some limitations need to be stressed. First, the cross-sectional nature of our survey does not allow us to ascertain causality. Second, although technically youth in the nonsmoking group do not smoke cigarettes, we do not know from our data whether they use tobacco to prepare their cannabis cigarettes. Third, school dropouts, who are known to be heavier substance users, were not included in the study. Fourth, because our data are self-reported, there is always room for speculation about the honesty of the answers. However, the fact that the questionnaire was anonymous should minimize any reporting bias."

The study cautions that while the results confirm that CTG (cannabis and tobacco group) youth tend to present psychosocial problems at a higher rate than COG youth and as such constitute a potential target for preventive interventions, the fact that COG youth, compared with abstainers, seem to do at least as well, if not better, in some areas raises 2 questions.

"First, those adolescents who only use cannabis but who may also use some tobacco to prepare their cannabis cigarettes should be advised about the possibility of becoming addicted to nicotine. Second, because the step between being an occasional or a regular cannabis user is not well established, this specific group of adolescents should also be counseled and closely monitored over time. In any case, and even though they do not seem to have great personal, family, or academic problems, the situation of those adolescents who use cannabis but who declare not using tobacco should not be trivialized."

The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, formerly known as the American Journal of Diseases of Children, is the oldest continuously published pediatric journal in the country, dating back to 1911. It is an international peer-reviewed journal published 12 times per year as a Journal of the American Medical Association.

Visit the study: Some Go Without a Cigarette - Characteristics of Cannabis Users Who Have Never Smoked Tobacco here: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

------------------------------------------------------------
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




Comments

Internal Comments are Closed on this story.



dailyn September 19, 2009 7:38 pm (Pacific time)

i dnt know


killerkush February 22, 2009 8:17 pm (Pacific time)

Weed is the healing of a nation.


Emilia Liz November 24, 2008 2:48 pm (Pacific time)

Unfortunately a new study out of Europe (France) finds that marijuana users, whether or not they smoked cigarettes, were more likely to be suicidal, be involved in violent behaviour, etcetera than abstainers. So while I don't think marijuana is the demon some people portray it to be, it may not be entirely harmless either (which of course doesn't mean it necessarily should be banned).


George July 25, 2008 5:07 pm (Pacific time)

A useless garbled study with numerous conditional findings. What a waste of space, and the copy editor for this liberal rag along with the other editors should stop trying to find the non-existent diamond in the rough. Marijuana use is illegal and does not have a positive impact on recreational teenage smokers. THC however, does have some potential medicinal uses for people who are physically ill rather than mentally ill..well like the sorry "journalist" that tried to twist this story.


Neal Feldman November 9, 2007 2:05 pm (Pacific time)

MacDaddy - I never said they had OMMA cards.. since the study was in Switzerland it would be irrelevant. But kids experiment and push boundaries. If the law is BS and the basis for the law is even greater BS it undermines proper respect for legitimate laws. That is what makes all this Reefer Madness nonsense so harmful to society. Honestly there are far worse things kids can do than smoke pot. Honestly if that is the worst thing my kids ever do I feel fortunate these days. Ah well...


MacDaddy November 9, 2007 10:32 am (Pacific time)

Neal, I agree with you whole-heartedly on raising kids to make their own decisions and I certainly would not want my children to be "total pleasers". That being said, however, we are talking about kids and I don't think the article was referencing kids that hold OMMP cards. You know as well as any father (of which I am), these kids need direction and need to know that rules/laws exist for a reason and that following them doesn’t necessarily make a person a pleaser. One shouldn’t simply break the law because he/she doesn’t like it. I say we need to teach our children that if they don’t like a rule/law then by all means, take the necessary and legal steps to change it.


Neal Feldman November 9, 2007 3:05 am (Pacific time)

GoC - Are you really that thick? You focus on one thing that the study never even claimed or set out to prove and then try and assert that since this thing you chose to focus on was not proven that the study was a waste of time. I have seen desperate intellectually dishonest loons before but you continue to lower the bar for the breed. Ah well...


Neal November 9, 2007 12:18 am (Pacific time)

Ida said: "No suprise. Most "stoners" I hung with in high school are very successful. High tech professionals, academics, lawyers, etc. Meanwhile most of the beer drinking jocks went on to become drunks with crappy jobs or local cops." My thoughts exactly! Just had my 30th HS reunion and you described 'us' to a Tee. But my buds had good relations with their parents... and, I went to college to become a "local cop." With teenagers of my own, we wouldn’t encourage it, but I don't plan to drive them off to some danger zone if we discover it. Good article - and the reason for my first visit to the Salem-news!


GodsofChaos November 8, 2007 10:41 pm (Pacific time)

"A study like this -- scientifically referred to as a "cross-sectional" survey -- cannot explain cause and effect." Bruce Mirken Are you saying that this survey was a waste of time and money? If this survey couldn't ,I just thought Tim King didn't have all the information in his article. I mean the one consent bad side effect of marijuana in this survey and they couldn't look in to it? Sounds like to me they wanted to prove marijuana was good and decided to ignore all of the bad side effects discovered.


Neal Feldman November 8, 2007 9:56 pm (Pacific time)

Bruce - the study states in the article it does not do cause and effect... only poses a couple guesses but never claims to show cause and effect. Ah well...


Neal Feldman November 8, 2007 9:54 pm (Pacific time)

Oh and btw MacDaddy - it was not me recommending anything I was merely explaining to GoC what the study said. Secondly where do you get that mt pot smoking is an illegal act? I happen to have an OMMP card thank you very much. Careful with your possibly slanderous accusations and learn about what you are talking about before making pronouncements, ok? Ah well...


Neal Feldman November 8, 2007 9:51 pm (Pacific time)

MacDaddy - I say kids should be raised to be self starting individuals since they are kids only 18 yrs, adults much longer. I raised my kids to think for themselves, have their own positions, attitudes, etc preferrably based on reason, logic , etc. They all got to be adults just fine. I don't think kids should go against parents just to do so but neither should they be pleasers, which is stifling themselves entirely living only to please others. You know there IS a considerable grey area between the two extremes, right? But if I had to choose between total pleaser and total individual I would have to recommend the latter. And I'm a father of four soon to be grandfather of 1. Ah well...


Bruce Mirken November 8, 2007 4:37 pm (Pacific time)

A study like this -- scientifically referred to as a "cross-sectional" survey -- cannot explain cause and effect. It does not show why people had more family problems or got better or worse grades, etc. That marijuana smokers were more involved in sports but had more family problems could be effects of marijuana use or it could be that those with family issues or interest in sports are more interested in marijuana. The federal government often misuses such "associations" to imply negative effects of marijuana that are utterly unproven. Bruce Mirken, Marijuana Policy Project, mpp.org


MacDaddy November 8, 2007 1:53 pm (Pacific time)

So Neal, is it your belief that children should go against their parent’s, teacher’s, etc. principles so as not to be labeled a “pleaser” and to save themselves from the risk of depression and suicide that comes with being one? Sounds like BS to me. It appears to me that your rhetoric is simply an attempt to justify an unlawful act so that you feel better about yourself while doing it.


Henry Ruark November 8, 2007 1:40 pm (Pacific time)

Chaotic: Good to see yr ongoing reception across several issues. Told you this was smarter bunch than you usually attack. Awaiting yr full-disclosure of what, who you really are, if you dare publish same.


Neal Feldman November 8, 2007 12:48 pm (Pacific time)

GoC - They did cover it... they mentioned that since grades were not a difference the family issues likely centered around disapproval by parents of the pot (or other drug) use. But that is obvious because abstainers are in the category called "Pleasers" who abstain mainly because they want to please their parents, teachers, etc... the so-called Good Kid. So is it any surprise they would get on well with parents they try so hard to please? But pleasers are also one of the highest risk groups for depression and suicide because since their whole outlook is based on what others think of them if those they seek approval from express disapproval or displeasure (whether reasonably or not) their world crumbles around them. The study clearly shows COG group are more independent, self actuated and as such less prone to depression both because their outlook is not as focussed solely on what others think of them plus the anti-depression aspects inherent to most cannabis use. Not surprised to see your desperate attempt to try and equate opium use (highly physically addictive and destructive to health) to cannabis use (no physical addictive aspect and in some ways beneficial to health). Your Reefer Madness mindset does not adapt well to the truth does it? Ah well...


Ida November 8, 2007 10:01 am (Pacific time)

No suprise. Most "stoners" I hung with in high school are very successful. High tech professionals, academics, lawyers, etc. Meanwhile most of the beer drinking jocks went on to become drunks with crappy jobs or local cops.


Mel Stafford November 8, 2007 9:36 am (Pacific time)

Wow, things are really changing, I doubt the anti-drug crusaders even know how to behave over this one.


Dylan November 8, 2007 8:53 am (Pacific time)

I think this article looks pretty long.


GodsofChaos November 8, 2007 8:01 am (Pacific time)

One aspect of the study that I felt downplayed is how does a society as a whole is effected by marijuana smoking. For example:"Even though they are more likely to skip class, they have the same level of good grades; and although they have a worse relationship with their parents, they are not more likely to be depressed." Society are built on the backs of family units and how they function.China was almost destroyed by opium which,since it was so addictive led to the destruction of family units. Wish this article went in more depth on why marijuana users were having family troubles.

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