Does smoking marijuana harm your health?

This remains an issue of great controversy throughout the world, marijuana being an illegal drug in many countries but legal in others like the Netherlands. But there is political campaigning to decriminalize it in some jurisdictions where it is currently illegal including some US States. But to answer your question I am afraid to tell you all facts do seem to indicate smoking marijuana DOES harm your health, but I think I really need to answer this question in great detail to explain precisely why I state that as fact, when so many are misguidingly seeking to contend it is not as harmfil as alcohol and does have medical benefits and other such propoganda.

The most convincing reason for concluding that smoking marujuana has the potential to cause serious harm to anybody's well being is the large numbers of very experienced and knowledgeable people who have changed their mind. For example a highly regarded left wing national newspaper here in the UK called "The Independent" which is one of the three newspapers considered "highest quality" in the UK and read daily by many millions - during the latter part of the 20th century and the first 7 years of the 21st century campaigned vigorously to try to persuade public opinion and the UK and other world governments to decriminalize marijuana claiming essentially that smoking marijuana was far less harmful than drinking alcohol or ordinary tobacco smoking, and there were very many proven beneficial medical effects from smoking it.

BUT....on March 8th 2007 the London Independent totally changed its opinion and published "CANNABIS AN APOLOGY", stating unequivocally it admitted to being guilty of getting it all wrong during all those years. The newspaper's journalists referred to new data that asserted marijuana in its skunk' form, is "FAR MORE DANGEROUS" than LSD or cocaine or heroin is according to a wealth of research findings.

Among the wealth of evidence the Independent cited was from Robin Murray, professor of psychiatry at London's Institute of Psychiatry, who stated in his estimation, "at least 25,000 of the 250,000 schizophrenics in the UK would have avoided the affliction had they not smoked cannabis", and the newspaper identified various people who, along with itself had hitherto strongly campaigned for the decriminalization of pot, but now accept due to more recent medical data, that key elements of their decriminalization arguments were very badly flawed.Many Statesmen and Politicians have also changed their mind. For example, UK Prime Minister David Cameron also used to favour decriminalizing cannabis smoking when in opposition. He too has changed his mind on studying all the research evidence and his coalition government is now introducing stricter laws about marijuana.

But this data expressed by the UK's top minds is just confirmation of data from other studies such as like the 2005 study on other side of the world at New Zealand's University of Otago which revealed that "marujuana smoking can increase the risk of a mental illness by 50%". In Canada former Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, the Liberal Party also pushed for many years to have marijuana legalized in Canada but they too changed their mind after reviewing all the evidence of its harmful effects on our brains etc. etc.

So what are the physical and mental health facts that have changed so many minds. The major proven mental health side effect resulting from you smoking marijuana is proneness to anxiety and panic attacks. A study in India verified that a very high proportion of psychiatric patients who took marijuana suffered from hallucinations, amnesia, and paranoia. Other research from USA and elsewhere has consistently revealed use of marijuana causes damage to your respiratory system giving many people such symptoms as a daily cough, chronic bronchitis, more frequent chest colds, injury to your lung structures, pneumonia and increased risk of lung or oral cancer.

There is evidence from Europe that the known harmful effects of tobacco smoking are made far worse by smoking marijuana with measurements of patients lungs showing marijuana smoking deposits of four times as much tar as ordinary tobacco smoking, and contains nearly 50% more of the cancer causing chemical benzopyrene than the average tobacco cigarette.

Evidence from other mental health professionals in various countries regarding brain damage indicate that as well as observed links between marijuana use and developing schizophrenia, less consistent associations have been reported between cannabis use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances!

Several studies have found marijuana use damages your immune system by causing damage to your cells and tissues that protect you from disease.

Perhaps even more worrying for young people wanting to start a family is studies by the University of Washington ADIA in US indicate heavy use of marijuana leads to decreased fertility potential both in males and females. In women the evidence from ADIA suggests that smoking marijuana may disrupt her menstrual cycle while in males, smoking marijuana has been proved to decrease both his sperm quality and testosterone levels studies indicating hydrocannabinol, which is a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, passes from a mother to a developing fetus through the placenta . The consequence of that is the fetus growth may be harmed or killed by any amount of marijuana that is taken in by the pregnant female, and that is in addition to proven fact that any form of smoking does disrupt the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, which can also result in restrictions in the growth of the fetus.

There is controversy in research as to whether use of cannabis and alcohol together really increases likelihood of you becoming addicted to "harder" drugs like cocaine and heroin. On that issue, different studies having supposedly found varying degrees of correlation between cannabis and use of and other drugs. Some doubters of this link contend this so-called "gateway effect," should really be blamed on the illegality of the drug rather than the drug itself, claiming the grouping of marijuana with harder drugs in law in many jurisdictions is really the reason users of marijuana move on to those harder drugs.