People with a history of drug or alcohol dependence should consider medical marijuana only in close consultation with their doctor. Individuals with a history of certain conditions including heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other lung disease should not use marijuana except under a doctor’s supervision.
Anyone with a history of serious mental illness such as schizophrenia should avoid marijuana or use only under the supervision of a doctor.
Medical marijuana users need to be aware that impairment charges can result from a visual inspection of you or your vehicle. If an arresting officer thinks he/she smells marijuana that alone can be sufficient evidence for arrest. Unlike alcohol, there is no established legal limit to determine marijuana impairment. Testing is further complicated by the fact that traces of cannabinoids remain in the bloodstream for up to a month. Subjective evidentiary procedures and severe legal consequences make “impairment” a major issue for patients.
Some studies have raised concerns that cognitive development in adolescents may be impaired by chronic use of marijuana. Although critics have noted major confounding factors – including the social consequences of involvement with law enforcement or school authorities — we believe caution is appropriate for adolescent patients. Another reason young people should approach cannabis with caution? Researchers have identified an association between marijuana use in adolescence and the risk for schizophrenia in those vulnerable to the disease.
Researchers are just beginning to determine the therapeutic potential of more than 80 medically significant cannabis compounds.