On Nov. 6, 2012, Colorado voters elected to legalize marijuana for recreational use statewide, becoming the first state in America to do so. Six years later, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System estimated that in 2017, 15.5 percent of Colorado adults used marijuana and 7.6 percent used it daily or nearly daily. However, there still remain large gaps in knowledge surrounding the health effects of marijuana.
The two primary components in marijuana thought to affect human health are THC and CBD. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance responsible for producing the high experienced by marijuana users. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a second substance found in marijuana that often causes sedation without producing the feeling of being high.
There are several new medical uses for marijuana products – THC-based medications are FDA-approved for appetite in AIDS patients and for nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. CBD-based medications are FDA-approved to help treat rare childhood seizure disorders.
However, despite these promising uses, marijuana can be addictive, with increasing amounts needed for the same effect and withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped suddenly. Using large amounts of marijuana daily can even lead to a repetitive vomiting syndrome that can last days at a time. In pregnancy, there is some concern that marijuana exposure can lead to low birth weights and developmental delays.
Even though it has been six years since Colorado voters legalized marijuana, a great deal is still unknown. It is important that Coloradans continue to exercise caution when using marijuana products.