COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest information from CDC ( | NIH Resources | NIDA Resources

Drugs & Health Blog

What Your Doctor Thinks About Marijuana

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

Note (2015): We have updated this post below since it was first published.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization that represents doctors who specialize in treating children and adolescents, published a statement opposing most uses of medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana, because of the possible ways the drug can harm young people.

You’re aware that there’s been a lot of talk about whether the government should relax its marijuana laws, or even make it legal. There are lots of strong opinions for and against. So far, voters in four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.

Nearly half of the states have also passed laws allowing medical use of marijuana, even though so far there’s very little science supporting it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which puts its stamp of approval on medicines, has never approved it.

Doctors who treat young people are worried about the long-term dangers of exposure to marijuana when the brain is still growing—usually until you’re in your early 20s. Studies show that young people are especially vulnerable to becoming addicted to drugs, including marijuana. And heavy use of marijuana in the teen years has been linked with loss of IQ—which can potentially have a domino effect in a person’s life: worse grades, worse jobs, worse relationships, and so on.…

The AAP also recommended that, in places where marijuana has already been legalized, authorities take steps to keep it out of the hands of young people and to place limits on advertising that might make it seem appealing to kids.

Although the AAP is opposed to most medical marijuana—and especially against using marijuana to treat children and teens—it does support loosening the legal restrictions (“scheduling”) on marijuana that sometimes make it hard for researchers to study the possible health benefits of the plant and the cannabinoid chemicals it contains. More research could lead to FDA-approved drugs that use these potentially healing chemicals, but do not require smoking the plant, which can affect your lung health.

Tell us what you think: Are these doctors right? Do you think more kids would use marijuana if it was made legal? Do you think most teens realize their brain is still growing and could be affected by marijuana use?  

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


You “forgot" to mention that American Academy of Pediatrics supports decriminalizing marijuana.

You're right, Tom Angell, AAP supports decriminalizing marijuana to reduce the penalties for marijuana use and possession to lesser criminal charges.  However, they only support this in conjunction with efforts to prevent marijuana use among teens and promote treatment for adolescents with marijuana problems.  Decriminalizing marijuana is not the same as condoning it's use.  

And what about're telling me the FDA didn't approve of it for sale and consumption? So we don't condone the use of marijuana but we condone the use of the plant to extract the active chemical THC and put it in pill form (approved by fda) to market to patients.

Hi Dan.  The AAP opposes “medical marijuana” outside the regulatory process of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the AAP recognizes that marijuana may be appropriate for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.

This is a common misperception. Marinol is actually 100% synthetic THC, nothing in Marinol was actually ever extracted from the plant.
THC is the chemical listed as a Schedule I substance, not the plant itself. I would like a reply from the NIDA staff about this by the way, maybe they can make sense of it. Probably not though. A Schedule I substance, which is a substance that has no medical uses and a high potential for abuse is approved by the FDA for medical use? How does this work? This is a government-sponsored website. You need to make official statements about this using real science and secular reasoning, not the dogma and religious agendas of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to 'protect the youth of our country'.

Hi! NIDA does not schedule drugs; that is the role and responsibility of the DEA with input from the FDA.

It is my understanding that if the plant is used correctly it has an amazing benefit to children who suffer from epilepsy. I have followed a n number of benefits that come from the use of Marijuana. There are no damaging side effects from the use. We can't say that for the majority if not all pharmaceuticals currently on the market. If you weigh the risk and benefits with alcohol it is easy to understand why it should be legal and actually promoted. I don't use it for myself. My body does not do well with any chemical additives but I do personally know of a significant amount of people who's quality of life have improved from the use of Marijuana.
My grand daugghter has rarest brain cancer know to science, its called Bithalamic glinoma. 20 people in USA with it and about 800 world wide. HER OWN TEAM OF DOCTORS TOLD HER IF YOU CAN GET MEDICAL MARIJUANA GET IT IT! IT WILL HELP WITH SIDE EFFECTS FROM THE TUOR"S LOCATION ( wicich is the thalams she cant walk, sometimes can see somtimes she cant see , convulsions , speech problems because the thalmas ie was carries sensory messages to brain) SO THIS FACT BEING STSTED IN THIS ARTICLE THAT DOCTORS ARE AGAINST THE USE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA ARE IMFACTCLLY UNTRUE!!!!!!!!
it makes u feel good all the time
well they did say it makes u dumb!
no it can't make you dumb you idiot I do it and im in honors
I have a comment on the subject of marijuana(weed). I am a 65 year old veteran. My first contact with weed was in the army from 1971to 1973. In all the counties that I was in, there was really not laws for marijuana. You could buy it like cigarettes. I had just moved to Texas to live with my brother. I have only been here about 8 months. In that time I have been jailed two times for procession of weed(both time less than two joints). The last time I spend almost 6 months. I am not a Criminal and I am not a dealer. I am a ole timer from the Viet man era. But I was treat like I was a felony. I think that's the problem with weed; that some states treat it like its a biq time crime.most smokers are just like me ; who enjoy a joint every once in a while. I wish there was a way that I could smoke my joint without spending 6 months in jail. The punishment does not fit the crime. My opinion is that these small countys use the law for extra income, which should be a crime. Sure wish something could be done about this situation.
I think those doctors were right. If it was made legal many kids will take advantage until they would come dependent to it and become addicted to marijuana which lead to attending rehab [commercial link removed, per comment guidelines].
What do you think of using marijuana as an anti-nausea/pain medication for chemotherapy patients?

Hi Johnny.  Science is still investigating the medical uses for marijuana.  So far, there are two FDA-approved medications containing THC for treating nausea and appetite problems caused by cancer chemotherapy and AIDS. Other drugs with THC in them have been approved already in other countries for treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and are now being carefully tested before being approved in the United States.

So then you are admitting that marijuana's classification as a schedule 1 narcotic is in reasonable?

NIDA does not schedule drugs, that is the role and responsibility of the DEA with input from the FDA. Our mission is to undertand social and biological underpinnings of drug abuse and addiction in order to better prevent it and treat it. There is no doubt that we have a long ways to go in fully understanding marijuana’s health effects on the brain and body, but the evidence that we have on the developing brain is solid, and we stand by our position that teens use of marijuana is inadvisable.

I am surprised that almost half of the states already made medical marijuana legal!
I think that we should just prevent drug use altogether. So far, it's been causing more accidents and deaths than doing anything good for teens and young adults.
I think that if marijuana can benefit people medically, then doctors and scientists should be able to study it's uses fully. Perhaps it has effects that can do more that treat nausea and appetite problems. Of course, if legalized, many adolescents will take advantage of this and abuse the drug. The question would be if the legalization of marijuana will benefit more than it can harm.
This is misguided, based on the state of the science. A recent, improved study of pots effect on teen and adult brains found no harm to shape, volume or density from daily use when alcohol use is controlled for. The deficits in teen cognition attributed to heavy marijuana use are found in nonusing teens with parental neglect or abuse indicating that it is bad parenting that damages development and allows for the non causative marijuana use. Illegal marijuana has been found to be contaminated with lead and glass granules, to add weight for increased profits and pesticides not intended for use on consumable crops which cause real brain damage and molds/fungi. Legal marijuana is tested and when found to be non compliant to safety standards, taken off the market and the cultivators can be held responsible or corrected. The black market allows for untested, contaminated pot to be widely distributed even to consumers without ID to prove legal age. Getting arrested for marijuana is far more damaging than is using marijuana. Arrest involves enormous stress which promotes serious inflammation-linked illnesses by flooding the system with harmful compounds generated by stress. Arrest also puts one under the stress of being detained without individual liberties, subjects one to psychological and possible physical and sexual abuse in detention and ruptures one's life by forcing one to hire legal counsel and spend time wasted in court. Marijuana users have profoundly lower rates of many if not all cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and other inflammation-linked illnesses. Yes marijuana protects users from the most serious illnesses that plague society. Read "Marijuana Gateway to Health"
I know it's better than alcohol and narcotics. ..that's all I need to know right now. .I don't use either but I had to choose a medicine iy would be one with the least amount of damage to my body. .side effects and addiction rated...
They are right!!!! Marijuana is not benign It does have side effects
Truthfully I could care less what any doctor thinks. I am the one in control of my health and those I care for. I will take my life experience over a text book license any day Don't mean to sound harsh but doctors are practicing and that's it.
Control to prevent children's early exposure and avoid addiction is most likely prudent. Adults however, should be able to choose between side effects of opiate medications and CBD which is extremely helpful for controlling pain and has NO side effects. It also is anti inflammatory and helps with anxiety. To me it is a blessing - I am 75 years old and cannot take oxycontin.
pot is good and not deadly and it can't make you dumb I know because I am in honors and I smoke pot.
It should be legal so that the people who use it for anxiety can have it