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Study Shows Long Term Marijuana Users Healthy

Sydney Morning Herald
February 18, 1997

Written by Leonie Lamont

One of the first studies of long-term marijuana use in Australia has found the health of such users is on par with the general population.

The study - conducted in the "subculture of North Coast of NSW. in which cannabis use is an integral part of everyday life and social relationships" - involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members. It was funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health's National Drug Strategy.

Mr David Reilly, chief investigator for the study, said the average profile for the interviewees was of regular marijuana use from the age of 17, lasting for 19 years. Some 94 per cent smoked it at least twice a week, and 60 per cent smoked it daily, with a typical quantity being two joints a day of the potent flowering heads of female plants.

"We have nothing startling. We don't see any evidence of high psychological disturbance among the people, we see very little evidence of health problems except for respitory problems," said Mr Reilly, who is manager of the drug and alcohol program with the Northern Rivers Health Service.

"We have nothing startling. We don't see any evidence of high psychological disturbance among the people, we see very little evidence of health problems except for respitory problems," said Mr Reilly, who is manager of the drug and alcohol program with the Northern Rivers Health Service.

Schizophrenia has been linked with cannabis use but Mr Reilly said there had been no evidence of the illness in the sample.

"Cannabis doesn't cause schizophrenia, in a nutshell. Most of those [generally younger people predisposed to schizophrenia] that would have had those feelings wouldn't have continued to use cannabis for 20 years.

However, the rate of respiratory problems among the marijuana users was higher than the general population.