The argument for the safety of marijuana use is undeniable. It is a naturally grown and harvested plant, offers a plethora of medicinal benefits, and is even legal in some parts of our own country. So what exactly is the big deal? Alcohol causes exponentially more deaths than marijuana ever has or will, but it is legal everywhere. So what makes marijuana such a touchy subject? The fact is, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way.
What is Marijuana and Where Does it Come From?
Marijuana is a plant that is indigenous to Central and South America. It is also known as Cannabis sativa, and, when dried, its leaves and flowers are used to make a drug that is popularly known as pot, weed, mary jane, bud, kush, or hashish. The marijuana plant has been used for centuries for its psychoactive effects, which include relaxation, altered perception, and feelings of euphoria. The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the chemical that is responsible for the majority of the drug’s psychoactive effects.
In recent years, there has been a loosening of laws and regulations surrounding marijuana use and sale. In some states, marijuana is now legal for both medical and recreational purposes and can be purchased out of a normal storefront as long as you’re over 21 years of age. However, there is still much debate over whether or not marijuana is safe.
Is Marijuana Safe?
From a medical standpoint, though there is not much evidence that marijuana use can lead to any serious long-term health issues, there is still the argument that heavy use of the drug can lead to lingering health effects. Marijuana smoke is also filled with many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, including ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. Some of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Most users smoke pot in a joint or water pipe, so they breathe the smoke straight into their lungs. There’s no proof that smoking marijuana causes lung cancer as tobacco cigarette smoke does. But people who smoke pot do show signs of damage and precancerous changes in their lungs, especially if they also smoke cigarettes.
Studies have also linked years of heavy marijuana use to abnormalities in the brain. Marijuana can also change the structure of sperm cells, induce psychosis and upset a woman’s menstrual cycle. Short and long-term memory is also very commonly affected due to chronic use, with many other mental functions diminishing over time because of how the nerve cells are disrupted by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Are There any Benefits to Marijuana Consumption?
Marijuana has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It is now being used to treat or alleviate the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. Medical marijuana is also being studied for its potential to help with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mental Health Effects of Marijuana
Mentally, though, marijuana can affect people in many different ways. For an addict or an alcoholic, the feeling of “never enough” seems to always be present. As with any long-term use of anything, it can lead to dependence. Marijuana has always been labeled as a ‘gateway drug’, and for many people who are potential addicts or alcoholics, that is exactly what it is.
Even for someone who is attempting to remain sober from alcohol or hard drugs, marijuana can lead them straight back to them even if they had no intention. Marijuana, as with alcohol or any drug, can lower inhibitions and lead to bad choices. This is precisely why even those who are attempting to abstain from drugs such as heroin or meth are advised to also steer clear of marijuana, as it can lead directly back to old behaviors.
The Legality of Marijuana
Twenty states have now fully legalized marijuana for recreational use and sale, regardless of any type of prescription. The proponents for this legislation are growing in numbers every day, and it may not be long before most states are treating marijuana the same way. In fact, most states have now decriminalized the possession and consumption of marijuana.
Many people use the legal component of marijuana and medical marijuana as a justification or rationalization for their use of the drug. Whatever validity there is to this concept, it is still unmistakable that the use of the drug can be detrimental to someone in recovery from all alcohol or drugs. Utilizing medical marijuana as a crutch is more replacement therapy than any type of actual recovery from dependence on all drugs and alcohol.
The advent of marijuana legalization has led to the booming of legal marijuana production and marketing in the United States. We are now seeing that marijuana or THC is being transformed into products that make the consumption of the drug more accessible to people who otherwise would never have used it, and most notable of all are THC edibles. Usually, in the form of baked goods or gummies, these consumables are packed with high-potency cannabis. The bigger problem is that the production of these items is unregulated, so the user never truly knows how to properly dose themselves and could end up hospitalized from the adverse health effects of these potent drugs.
Recreation or Dependence?
As with any drug, marijuana use affects different people in different ways. Yet for everyone who uses it, there are serious and undeniable health risks. There are also those who utilize the drug to escape, to deal with problems in a way where they do not have to think about them, developing an unhealthy mental dependence. For them, utilizing it in a recreational fashion is simply not there. Chronic marijuana consumption can eventually lead to other forms of drug abuse.
Last Updated on August 7, 2023