Cannabinoid Poisoning Follow-up

Updated: Jan 24, 2018
  • Author: Linda Russo, MD; Chief Editor: Duane C Caneva, MD, MSc  more...
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Patient Education

Educate all patients with cannabis use or abuse about the adverse effects of this drug. Encouraging cessation is equally important.

An effort should be made to educate patients on the adverse effects of cannabis use, which include the following:

  • Impaired attention, memory, and psychomotor performance during intoxication

  • Possible subtle changes in attention and memory with chronic use

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle collisions if driving while intoxicated

  • Chronic bronchitis and histopathological changes of the nasal cavity or respiratory tract that may be cancerous precursors

For patient education information, see Teen Drug Abuse.




THC has a long half-life and widespread neurocognitive effects. However, Hooper et al found that adolescents with cannabis use disorder who were in full remission after successful first treatment (n=33) showed no difference in intellectual, neurocognitive, and academic achievement compared with healthy adolescents (n=43) or controls who had psychiatric disorders without a history of substance use disorder (n=37). These researchers concluded that adolescents with cannabis use disorder may not be vulnerable to THC-related neuropsychological deficits once they achieve remission from all drugs for at least 30 days. [21]

Some evidence suggests that heavy marijuana use during adolescence may lead to increased health problems in later adulthood. These may include both physical disorders (eg, respiratory illness) and mental disorders. For example, Meier et al reported that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38, and that those who quit marijuana as adults did not fully recover those losses. [22]

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Youth Study, which  tracked 408 boys  (54% black, 42% white) from adolescence into their mid-30s found no differences in any of the mental or physical health outcomes measured, regardless of the amount or frequency of marijuana used during adolescence. The mental health outcomes included anxiety and mood and psychotic disorders. The physical health outcomes included asthma, allergies, headaches, high blood pressure, limitations in physical activities, physical injuries, and concussions. [23, 24]

These researchers hypothesized that the overall pattern of use between adolescence and adulthood, which their study focused on, may be a less important than other factors (eg, cumulative tetrahydrocannabinol exposure, age of initiation of use, or use at a particular age) for predicting negative health outcomes. [23, 24]