An influential paediatrics group has issued fresh guidance on the dangers of cannabis, following decriminalisation of the drug in several US states.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, an association of 66,000 doctors, warns that there are physical and psychological risks involved with cannabis, especially when it is consumed by teenagers.
Currently cannabis, also known as marijuana, is legal for recreational use in eight US states and legal for ‘medical use’ in several others.
Drawing on existing evidence, the group have compiled ‘talking points’ for doctors to raise with patients.
They state that: “Marijuana is not a benign drug for teens”, saying that it may cause “abnormal brain development” and could lead to “serious mental health disorders, including addiction, depression and psychosis”.
As a warning to parents who choose to consume the substance around children, the group also cautions that: “Marijuana smoke is toxic, similar to second-hand tobacco smoke.”
And they warn against driving under the influence, stating that: “Adults and teens regularly get into serious and even fatal car accidents while under the influence of marijuana”.
At the end of last year, four US states backed the complete decriminalisation of cannabis, and several gave the green light to so-called medical use of the drug.
In the UK, the Government has faced calls to relax the law on cannabis for medical reasons.
In September last year, a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform claimed there is evidence in favour of using cannabis in the treatment of certain conditions.
However, the Government argues that there is a “substantial body of scientific and medical evidence to show that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health”.