Special Report: Study on effects of marijuana use - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

Special Report: Study on effects of marijuana use

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Dr. Michael Taffe of the Scripps Research Institute Dr. Michael Taffe of the Scripps Research Institute

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — California voters will go to the polls next week to decide if marijuana should be legalized for recreational use.

It's a public policy issue, but before you decide how you will vote, you may want to consider the scientific data about marijuana use.

We have heard from both supporters and opponents of Proposition 64, the state  measure that would allow adults to use marijuana legally.

But tonight, another voice has joined the discussion. The knowledge of a neuroscience and pharmacology expect at the world renowned Scripps Research Institute.

Related Link: Proposition 64: The legalization of marijuana

Dr. Michael Taffe has been studying the effects of drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine and ecstasy for the last 20 years.

With the decision of whether to legalize marijuana in California, the scientists at the Scripps Research Institute has been answering a lot of questions.

One of the most common questions: Is marijuana addictive?

According to a 1994 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan, marijuana users had a 9 percent probability of becoming addicted, compared with 16 percent for cocaine and 23 percent for heroin and 31 percent for tobacco.

Dr. Taffe also said marijuana changes the way the brain functions, affecting memory and attention.

Related Link: City Attorney launches new marijuana campaign

Researchers in New Zealand found that teens that used pot experienced a decline in IQ. 

Taffe said marijuana also affects people who stop using the drug. There are studies that show the symptoms of withdrawal from pot are similar in severity to those who are kicking tobacco.

Research also shows that the potency of marijuana is increasing, but Taffe said there are no studies that link potency to addiction. 

Science doesn't provide all the answers when it comes to matters of marijuana and driving, and workplace safety. Taffe said that's where those who make policy will have to step in.

Researcher Michael Taffe said he is merely presenting facts, but he said it's up to each person to consider the science in context with other factors before deicing if marijuana should be legalized. 

Related Links

Effects of marijuana use on traffic safety

Leading the charge to legalize marijuana in California

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