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Marijuana and Health Risks: Do You Know All the Facts?

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As attitudes towards marijuana use change, one group is voicing concerns that Ohioans don't have all the facts. (Adobe Stock)
As attitudes towards marijuana use change, one group is voicing concerns that Ohioans don't have all the facts. (Adobe Stock)
November 25, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio - With recreational or medical use of marijuana now legal in most states, one group wants to ensure that Ohioans fully understand its potential health risks.

Prevention Action Alliance Executive Director Fran Gerbig explained that little is known about the safety implications of marijuana use. She contended too many decisions are being made, and publicized, that aren't based on scientific evidence.

"When you do a quick Google search, it felt very anecdotal and not factual," said Gerbig. "Citizens deserve better than anecdotal, and sometimes wrong, reports of efficacy. They deserve the same standards of evidence that we require for prescription drugs."

The alliance has culled evidence from scientific trials and other research on marijuana use and complied a series of free fact-sheets to help Ohioans make health-related choices. They're online at 'preventionactionalliance.org.'

Medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016. However Gerbig explained it is different than pharmaceutical medications that have undergone thorough scientific trials.

"It's not like getting the medicine that you get from your doctor that writes you a prescription," said Gerbig. "That you go to your pharmacist and you get a list of side effects. You get a list of warning signs that you know that if you experience these, you call immediately. We don't have that same level of confidence with marijuana."

Gerbig said the fact-sheets include topics on marijuana's interactions with other drugs, how its use may affect adults over age 50, and its potential for being addictive. They also cover potency and the importance of storing marijuana products safely to avoid accidental poisoning.

"Unfortunately, a lot of things can be misinterpreted as a treat or as a food product, when really it does not have that role," said Gerbig. "And you know, children can become poisoned by marijuana. Animals can be poisoned by marijuana."

Recreational marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia; 35 states have approved medical use.

Disclosure: Prevention Action Alliance contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH