WHY NOT POT?: A Review of the Brain-based Risks of Cannabis

Innov Clin Neurosci. 2016 Apr 1;13(3-4):13-22. eCollection Mar-Apr 2016.


In this review, we provide a historical perspective on marijuana, and survey contemporary research investigating its potential negative effects on the brain. We discuss the evidence regarding cannabis dependence, driving under the influence of cannabis, underachievement, inducing (or worsening) certain psychiatric conditions, and the potential for progression to use of more dangerous drugs-summarized by the acronym DDUMB, a cognitive tool that may help healthcare providers in their risk/benefit discussions with patients who use cannabis. We also review and discuss the impact of marijuana use on target populations, including adolescents (who are at increased risk of harm); heavy users; and people suffering from-or at high risk of- mental illness. While cannabis presents certain subjective, healthrelated, and pecuniary benefits to users, growers, and other entities, it is also associated with several brainbased risks. Understanding these risks aids clinicians and their patients in making informed and balanced decisions regarding the initiation or continuance of marijuana use.

Keywords: Marijuana; cannabis; dependence; drug-related harms; mental health.

Publication types

  • Review