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four days old and again at four years, but the deficits were no longer apparent at five years.
Prenatal marijuana exposure was not, however, without lasting effect. At ages 5-6 years and 9-12 years, children in the same study who were prenatally exposed to tobacco smoke scored lower on tests of language skills and cognitive functioning.48 In another study,49 50 9 to 12 year olds who were exposed to marijuana prenatally scored lower than control subjects on tasks associated with ''executive function,'' a term used by psychologists to describe a person's ability to plan, anticipate, and suppress behaviors that are incompatible with a current goal.50 It was reflected in how the mothers described their children. Mothers of the marijuana-exposed children were more likely to describe their offspring as hyperactive or impulsive than were mothers of control children. The alteration in executive function was not seen in children born to tobacco smokers. The underlying causes might be the marijuana exposure or might be more closely related to the reasons underlying the mothers' use of marijuana during pregnancy.
Mice born to dams injected with the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide, during the last trimester of pregnancy also showed delayed effects. No effect of anandamide treatment during pregnancy was detected until the mice were adults (40 days old), at which time they showed behavioral changes that are common to the effects of other psychotropic drugs or prenatal stress.45 As with the children born to mothers who smoked marijuana, it is not known what aspect of the treatment caused the effect. The dams might have found the dose (20 mg/kg of body weight) of anandamide aversive, in which case the effect could have resulted from generalized stress, as opposed to a cannabinoid-specific effect. Either is possible. Despite the uncertainty as to the underlying causes of the effects of prenatal exposure to cannabinoid drugs, it is prudent to advise against smoking marijuana during pregnancy.
Summary and Conclusions
This chapter summarizes the harmful effects of marijuana on individual users and, to a lesser extent, on society. The harmful effects on individuals were considered from the perspective of possible medical use of marijuana and can be divided into acute and chronic effects. The vast majority of evidence on harmful effects of marijuana is based on smoked marijuana, and, except for the psychoactive effects that can be reasonably attributed to THC, it is not possible to distinguish the drug effects from the effects of inhaling smoke from burning plant material.
For most people the primary adverse effect of acute marijuana use is diminished psychomotor performance; it is inadvisable for anyone under