Marijuana (Cannabinoids)

Safety risks of marijuana

Ms. Leslie Bohner at Touro University in Vallejo, California summarizes the risks of medical marijuana.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as Schedule I, a definition that gives it a high potential for abuse, with no current safe or medical use.

Meanwhile, in the state of California and 13 other states, patients have legal access to medical marijuana upon physician recommendation for a long list of conditions.

Here are the risks, based on Ms Bohner’s search of several databases.

  • Possible drug-drug interactions
    • Opioids
    • Antipsychotics
    • Anesthetics
    • Alcohol
    • Benzodiazepines (Valium, others)
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Protease inhibitors
    • Theophylline (Aminophylline)
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, a class of antidepressant
    • Sildenafil (Viagra)
    • Tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil, others_
    • Anticholinergics
    • Alpha-agonists
    • Naltrexone (Depade, Revia)
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Lthium
  • Cardiovascular adverse effects
    • Increased heart rate
    • High blood pressure
    • Orthostatic hypotension
    • Syncope
  • Respiratory adverse effects
    • Cannabis smoke is known to contain several potent carcinogens.
  • Carcinogenic adverse effects
    • Cannabis use by males under the age of 18 was recently associated with an elevated risk of testicular cancer.

The bottom line?

Marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes, especially in California, is not going away.

At least we should know the risks.

1/15/11 20:50 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.