New research shows that smoking marijuana causes changes to a user’s DNA, and these mutations are, in turn, passed on to their children.

The details of the study are published in the journal Mutation Research – Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis.

Details of the DNA Study

According to the International Business Times (IBT) in Australia, this study was conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA). Cannabis was found to cause mutations that exposed a user to serious illnesses.

In their press release, lead researcher Stuart Reece, Associate Professor at UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Sciences said, “Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person’s DNA.”

Prof. Reece worked with Professor Gary Hulse and analyzed research and literary material on marijuana in an attempt to understand the changes caused by the drug. The researchers explained that the chemicals in marijuana alter the DNA and this can lead to slow cell growth, affect the fetal development of babies, or even cause cancer in the early years of a baby’s life.

They wrote, “Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father’s sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children. The parents may not realize that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect.”

While it is not being explicitly stated, the findings of this research call into question the push for marijuana legalization in America, which cites the ‘safety’ of marijuana use as a credible reason to support the end of prohibition. There are others who are taking a different approach by seeking the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule I drug.

Potential Changes to Marijuana Classification

Even though the findings from this research put a caveat on marijuana legalization, most of the research currently available paints the drug as less dangerous than alcohol or other drugs. Reclassification of marijuana will allow for more research to be conducted and end all debates.

David Cunic, a physical therapist and CEO of Pazoo, which runs marijuana testing labs in California, Colorado and Washington, told 10News, “No one is asking to make [marijuana] legal overnight. We’re saying, ‘let’s start doing some research on it’. It’s common sense. People are looking for alternatives.”

Last month, the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chuck Rosenberg co-signed a letter to federal lawmakers alluding to a decision on whether marijuana will be reclassified. While marijuana advocates are holding hope for reform, others believe the federal government is not really eager to address the issue.

John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told 10News that “it’s unlikely the DEA and the FDA’s doctors will reschedule marijuana this year.” He added, “Doctors are even more risk-averse than Congress is, and the DEA is staffed almost entirely by drug warriors.”

This means the administration will probably say ‘no’ or continue holding their position on letting each state decide its own policy on marijuana. Till then, there will be a long wait for the decision from the government.