New York: As more people are able to obtain and consume cannabis legally for medical and, in some states in the US, recreational use, people are less likely to perceive it as addictive or harmful. But a research study proves otherwise.
"Our results are timely, given the changing attitudes and perceptions of risk related to cannabis use in the US," said John Kelly from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US.
"Research shows that cannabis use can have significant consequences, and we know that among adolescents it is second only to alcohol in rates of misuse," Kelly noted.
The current study enrolled 127 adolescents between ages 14 and 19 being treated at an out-patient substance use disorder clinic, 90 of whom indicated that cannabis was the substance they used most frequently.
The researchers found that 40 percent of cannabis using adolescents reported experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
At the study's outset, consequences - such as missing work or school, financial and relationship problems - tended to be greater in participants reporting withdrawal symptoms who also were more likely to have mood disorders.
While the presence of withdrawal symptoms was a strong indicator of cannabis dependence, the authors noted, it did not significantly impact the ability of participants to reduce their use of cannabis during the 12-month follow-up period.
The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.