More MS news articles for November 2000

Marijuana Not a "Benign" Drug

Nov. 28, 2000 (Ivanhoe Newswire)

Researchers have identified specific symptoms of marijuana withdrawal in the first "out-of-laboratory" study on the topic.

Researchers from McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. observed 60 men and women between the ages of 30 and 55. Half of the participants were current marijuana users. Daily urine specimens were collected to determine if the participants did indeed stop smoking marijuana. Participants recorded any changes in mood and in physical symptoms in daily diaries. They also underwent tests to provide a measure of anxiety and depression just before the study and periodically throughout.

At the end of the 28-day study, researchers found 60 percent of users who had abstained from marijuana use suffered significant withdrawal symptoms. Harrison Pope, M.D., Ph.D., from McLean Hospital, says, "Symptoms of withdrawal first appeared in chronic users within 24 hours. They were most pronounced for the first 10 days of the study. However, increases in irritability and physical tension were observed in chronic users for all 28 days of abstinence."

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. It is estimated that 14 percent of adolescents and 7 percent of adult users are dependent on the drug. Elena M. Kouri, Ph.D., from McLean Hospital, says, "Most people think marijuana is a benign drug, and there is disagreement in the scientific community about whether withdrawal causes significant symptoms. This study shows that using marijuana for a long time has consequences." The results of the study are presented in the November issue of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

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