Use of Marijuana Could Impact Offspring

The debate about Marijuana, or “pot”, use continues to be hashed out throughout our nation, involving politicians, health professionals, and the media alike.  Many confusing messages concerning the use of marijuana have amplified a considerable public discourse across many communities and states.  Most recently, the hot topic has about whether marijuana use should be legalized.  As marijuana is the third most popular drug in the nation, after tobacco and alcohol, these discussions have spurred much controversy and disagreement on all sides [1].

In a landmark decision, Colorado became the first state in the nation to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, allowing the regulation of marijuana from seed to sale.  The sale of recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado on January 1st to any individual age 21 or older.  This new legislation in the state of Colorado was effectively endorsed by the individuals who voted in favor of it.  Voters in support of legalizing marijuana have cited benefits such as economic advances and reduced drug enforcement costs.  The state of Washington has also followed suit after Colorado with its marijuana policies, with many more states turning their attention towards legislation that regulates the use of this recreational drug.

As with any new legislation, many of the potential benefits for the legalization of marijuana are campaigned at the forefront to endorse its measure.  Understanding the possible implications of this move however, is important for both the people voting for it as well as for those who are directly impacted by the use of marijuana.

Recent research has exposed how marijuana use may predispose offspring to drug addiction [2].  In a study completed at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, parental exposure to marijuana and the effects it has on the offspring in adulthood was studied.  Researchers were able to carry out their experiments by studying the drug habits of rats.  It was found that those rats whose parents were exposed to marijuana as teens worked harder to self-administer heroin compared to those rats whose parents did not use marijuana.  These interesting research findings draw greater attention to the possibility of cross-generational drug use, as well as interventions for treatment.

According to Dr. Yasmin Hurd, senior author of this study, “Our study emphasizes that cannabis [marijuana] affects not just those exposed, but has adverse affects on future generations.  Finding increased vulnerability to drug addiction and compulsive behavior in generations not directly exposed is an important consideration for legislators considering legalizing marijuana.”

Learning the truth at the heart of these issues is critical in separating facts from myths.  Perhaps one of the most dangerous illusions about the legalization of marijuana is that it is harmless, especially in comparison to its counterparts.  However, this pretense may diminish the efforts of those in recovery or the attempts to encourage younger generations to be drug free.  While the debate about the legalization of marijuana will persist, we as voters can make an informed decision by being aware of both the positive and negative consequences enabled by legislation for which we vote.


[1]: “NORML: Working to reform marijuana laws”,

[2]: “Parental THC Exposure Leads to Compulsive Heroin-Seeking and Altered Striatal Synaptic Plasticity in the Subsequent Generation”

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About the Authors:

Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC – Founder & President @ Eating Disorder Hope® & Addiction Hope®


Jacquelyn founded Addiction Hope® in January 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well-regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope®.

Jacquelyn Ekern is a licensed therapist and she is President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. which operates both the Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope organizations and websites. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix and a Masters degree in Counseling/Psychology, from Capella University.

Crystal Headshot 2Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a Contributing Writer for Addiction Hope.

Crystal is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Masters degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Saint Joseph.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on January 1, 2014
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 19, 2019
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