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National Institute on Drug Abuse -  NIDA NOTES
Marijuana Research
Volume 10, Number 6
November/December 1995

NIDA Conference Advances HHS Secretary's Marijuana Initiative

Approximately 570 marijuana researchers, treatment and prevention services providers, and educators met in Arlington, Virginia, July 19-20, to learn about new marijuana research findings. The occasion was NIDA's Conference on Marijuana Use: Prevention, Treatment, and Research, the first national conference ever held on the topic.

The conference was a key component of the Marijuana Use Prevention Initiative, a multifaceted campaign being spearheaded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The conference furthered the Initiative's core objective of using science-based information to educate the public about the consequences of marijuana use. (For more about the Initiative, see "HHS Secretary Sends Marijuana Information to the Nation's Schools," and "NIDA Expands Its Marijuana Research Agenda," )


NIDA's 2-day Conference on Marijuana Use drew some
570 researchers, treatment and prevention services providers,
and educators from across the Nation to hear the latest
research findings on marijuana.

"The marijuana issue is about the costs to society of drug-related auto wrecks, accidents, property damage, truancy and school failure, on-the-job mishaps, and lost productivity," Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Donna E. Shalala told conference participants. "At the core of our agenda must be a clear and consistent message: Marijuana is illegal, dangerous, unhealthy, and wrong."

During the 2-day conference, more than 60 speakers discussed marijuana topics ranging from current patterns of use and perceptions of risk to physical and behavioral effects and prevention and treatment approaches. Among the research results presented:

  • Dr. Billy Martin of the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University released new research showing that marijuana produces drug dependency in animals (see "Marijuana Antagonist Reveals Evidence of THC Dependence in Rats").

  • Dr. Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles reported his findings on the pulmonary consequences of habitual marijuana use, which include symptoms of chronic bronchitis, an increased frequency of acute chest illnesses, a heightened risk of pulmonary infection, and an apparently increased risk of disease in both the upper airway and the lungs.

  • Preliminary findings presented by Dr. Peter Fried of Carleton University in Ottawa suggest that, in 9- to 12-year-olds, prenatal marijuana exposure is associated with impaired executive function, the intellectual ability that involves decisionmaking and planning.

  • Dr. Stephen Heishman of NIDA's Division of Intramural Research discussed his recent study, which showed that marijuana significantly impaired performance in standardized sobriety tests conducted in controlled laboratory conditions.

  • Dr. Judith Brook at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City presented findings from a multigenerational study showing certain factors associated with marijuana use among young people. Study results indicate that children who are aggressive and have a distant relationship with their parents are more likely than other children to use marijuana as young adults, and that adolescents at risk for marijuana use exhibit rebelliousness, poor school achievement, and difficulty in family relationships.

From NIDA NOTES, November/December, 1995
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