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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: October 2009

5 - The Adverse Health and Psychological Consequences of Cannabis Dependence

from Part I - The Nature of Cannabis Dependence


This chapter summarizes the most probable adverse health effects that cannabis-dependent persons are at increased risk of experiencing. A major difficulty in appraising the adverse health effects of chronic cannabis use is a dearth of good epidemiological evidence on the long-term health consequences of cannabis use. Cannabis exerts its most prominent effects on the central nervous system where it acts on an endogenous cannabinoid system that is involved in regulating mood, emotion, memory, attention, and other cognitive functions. The findings from both human and animal research suggest that prolonged use of cannabis alters the functioning of the brain's cannabinoid system but that this does not translate to serious impairment. The most consistent physiological effect of cannabis in humans and animals is to increase heart rate. This change parallels the experienced "high" and is related to amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the blood.