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I first started to really pay attention to the topic of marijuana when I began taking classes here over the summer. In one of my COMM classes we discussed both sides of the story, from legalization to the health effects. It seemed to me like there were no big detriments to ones health if they smoke marijuana. However, a recent study conducted by the Universita degli Studi di Milano in Italy seems to show a correlation between adolescent marijuana usage and diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (Autoimmune).
The experiment began with scientists injecting mice with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for ten days. In mouse years that’s the equivalent to the span of human years 12 to 18. A placebo group of mice was put in place as well. After the initial ten days, the mice were left alone for two months, until they were fully developed adults (Autoimmune).
After this time scientists studied the immune systems of the mice and found that there were large alterations to the immune response in adulthood, described by a clear switch toward a pro-inflammatory and cytotoxic phenotype (Autoimmune).
Researcher Paola Sacerdote concluded that “I hope that the knowledge that early exposure to marijuana is associated with immediate and long-term deleterious effects on the immune system may reach adolescents and their families (Autoimmune).”
I believe this study is important to the future of marijuana studies, but there are still a few things that I find questionable. First of all, I don’t know how many mice were used. The sample size is extremely important when looking at the implications for a the entire world. Secondly, there are many confounding variables not taken into account. They used mice, not people, so we can’t be completely sure about how this will carry over into actual human usage. I like how the study is an actual experiment and information can be proven, but in this study it’s only really proven for mice. Reverse causation is ruled out, but correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation.
This study is important to the future of marijuana studies, but there is only so much that can be done with mice.
“Autoimmune Diseases Linked to Adolescent Marijuana Use.” Autoimmune Diseases Linked to Adolescent Marijuana Use. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014. <http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20140901053148.shtml>.