Ian Hamilton, Associate Professor of Addiction at the University of York, who reviewed the study, endorses its findings but warns of the risks cannabis consumption could entail in the long-term.
Sputnik: Could you tell me a bit more about this research?
Ian Hamilton: So what I was looking at was, what impact does cannabis use have on people's work and in particular things like their productivity, their attention, their concentration, their ability to work with others. I think I said in the article that we already have quite a bit of research on the impact of other substances, particularly alcohol on work. But so far, we don't seem to know a lot about the way cannabis affects people's work. And given that so many states, particularly in America have opened up access to cannabis and to their populations and of course, many of those people will be working as well as using cannabis. I think it's a good time to look at what the research says.
Sputnik: Does frequent cannabis use have a negative impact on our health?
Ian Hamilton: Yes, I mean, like any drug, it carries risks and I think it's important to say from the offset that many people or the majority of people who use cannabis won’t have or notice any great problem with their health. But of course, like any drug, the more you use it, in terms of using it more frequently or using a higher dose, then there are some impacts on health and probably the most obvious one is on your respiratory system so you know, your ability to breathe.
This is because most people certainly in the UK and Europe smoke cannabis rather than take it via an edible or some other oral form. And just like smoking cigarettes, cannabis impairs lung function. So that may not be something that's apparent within the first year or two of use, but if you go on using cannabis and smoking it then it will have a detrimental effect on your lung function and could lead to things like COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is an irreversible damage to your lungs.
Sputnik: Do you know how often study participants used the drug during the week?
Ian Hamilton: It’s important to say that this study wasn't my research. So I was reviewing this particular study around work and more generally the research around work. But as far as I can tell, there was no detail as to how often people were using and that's a major limitation of the study and indeed, in many studies looking at cannabis a lot of the questioning tends to be quite blunt in that they only ask participants do you use cannabis - yes or no? They don’t for instance, as you suggested, ask how often that is or what the dose is or even the type of cannabis. So that's clearly the next stage that I think research needs to move to getting more granular and detailed information about people's cannabis use. And in summary, essentially what the research shows I don't think it'll be a surprise maybe to many people that if you use cannabis prior to work, or even during the working day, that does impair your work performance and productivity. But if you only use cannabis after work or in the evenings, for those people doing day jobs, it doesn't have a hangover effect the next day on productivity and on your ability to concentrate or to collaborate with others.
DISCLAIMER: Sputnik does not condone the use of cannabis and reminds our readers that the drug can cause a number of adverse effects including breathing problems, problems with child development, heart rate increase and cognitive impairments, among other complications, according to the World Health Organisation.
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