SPRINGFIELD - While medical cannabis regs are being set up for Illinoisans over 18 years of age to have legal access to a federally-illegal drug, those under 18 suffering seizures will soon have access as recommended by a physician.
At the same time more and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, studies are showing how the drug's use can affect those using it. A British study released this week showed a connection between marijuana use, sperm shape and possible infertility.
In a study published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, researchers analyzed many different lifestyle factors that could possibly have an impact on male infertility. The study was the largest of its kind, examining how habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol affected men’s sperm size and shape – also known as sperm morphology.
According to the researchers, marijuana use was the only habit they studied to be strongly associated with abnormal sperm morphology.
“We weren’t really interested in [the cannabis angle] at all,” Dr. Alan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield in England, told FoxNews.com. “We were interested in trying to best define the risks of sperm quality. We recruited [a couple thousand] guys, who gave us a sperm sample and allowed us to investigate aspects of their lives…It was just one of the things we asked if they did; it was no more detailed than that.”
Another new study shows that cannabis lowers teenagers' potential adult IQ:
U.S. researchers found the damaging effects of the drug remained even if users stopped smoking marijuana as adults.
They said teenagers face increased risks from smoking cannabis, because the brain is rapidly developing at this time.
The scientists, from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the U.S., added that smoking cannabis affects critical thinking and memory during use, with the effects persisting for days.
Reviewing a range of studies on marijuana smoking, they reiterated that cannabis impairs driving and increases the risk of being involved in a car accident.
The risks are further enhanced when combining marijuana with alcohol, they reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In Illinois, persons and older that have the following medical conditions will be authorized to access limited amounts of medical cannabis: cancer; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Crohn's disease; agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; cachexia/wasting syndrome; muscular dystrophy; severe fibromyalgia; rheumatoid arthritis; spinal cord disease; Tarlov cysts; hydromyelia; syringomyelia; spinal cord injury; traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome; multiple sclerosis; Arnold Chiari malformation; spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA); Parkinson’s disease; Tourette’s syndrome; myoclonus; dystonia; reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD); causalgia; CRPS; neurofibromatosis; chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; Sjogren’s syndrome; lupus; interstitial cystitis; myasthenia gravis; hydrocephalus; nail patella syndrome; residual limb pain; or the treatment of these conditions. In addition, the Department of Public Health can approve additional debilitating medical conditions.
The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation allowing minors access to digestable cannabis for epilepsy and other conditions approved by the Department of Public Health. That bill is now on the governor's desk.