With new laws surrounding marijuana use it’s time to take a good look at the real stats. We have been told for years that weed is a gateway drug that leads to harder and harder drugs with eventual death. Sure, maybe; but if it is then so are coffee, tobacco and alcohol.
It’s important to state here that marijuana is considered a drug because it alters your mental state.
Health Canada has created an official health statement concerning the effects of Cannabis while we undergo legalization.
Legitimate studies show that it can be useful in the treatment of multiple health concerns. Many of these studies have conclusive positive health effects for the control of chronic pain, treatment of chemotherapy induced nausea (and vomiting) and control of multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. Other moderately positive outcomes include short-term relief of sleep apnea, motor ticks associated with Tourette’s syndrome, improvement of anxiety symptoms (social and PTSD).
There are many other illnesses, disorders and conditions that are reportedly helped with use of weed. As we delve deeper into legalization more and more studies will be completed to provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of action and effects.
This all sounds great right? BUT Just as with any drug (pharmaceutical or natural) there can also be negative side effects. It is important to speak with an unbiased, knowledgeable physician about how marijuana can affect you in both positive and negative ways.
Cannabis has had a jaded past; personally I love this Adam Ruins Everything skit.
What About Addiction?
I don’t believe there is a cut and dry answer to the question of addiction. Some studies say marijuana is not addictive while others say it is. Why the discrepancy? Because humans are a varied bunch! There are so many factors at play here. It is the same reason why some people can quit smoking cold turkey and never look back while others struggle sometimes for years. The human brain is not a computer hard drive; cold and statistical, it is governed by emotions, physical reactions, memories and intellect. To say that we will all react the same is ludicrous 🙂
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the physical addiction to marijuana will occur in approximately 9% of consistent users but increases to 17% if the drug is begun in adolescence. Many studies support this with the real concern for physical addiction being in youth. When the drug is used during the prime brain growth phases (up to age 25) physical changes can occur resulting in diminished brain capacity.
Addiction has 2 sides; physical and mental. While many can argue all day that cannabis is not physically addictive (not nearly as addictive as caffeine or tobacco) we must consider the mental side of things. Mental addiction is of much greater concern than physical because anyone can become dependent, even those we would least expect.
Life can get rough so when we find something that helps us get through it that something can become a need. It can be anything from a physical activity (running, skydiving, weight lifting) to a food (sweets, salt, fats) to a drug. The worry with cannabis is that as a feel good drug that reduces pain we are more likely to turn to it, to need it. If you feel that you or a loved is addicted to marijuana or anything else for that matter seek professional help. Links are provided at the end of this post.
What Do I Actually Think?
Today I do something rare, very rare! I share my opinion. I usually like to stay neutral, end the post right here, so that you can make up your own mind. But with legalization just around the corner everyone is asking my opinion. So let’s answer your questions!
Have I ever used it before: Nope. Why not? Because I never saw the appeal. I spent my youth in pursuit of higher education, I knew tons of people that did and I did not have a problem with their use; however I saw the mental effects and thought “not for me”, I also never drank alcohol as a teen or 20 something.
Will I ever try it? Maybe; I can’t say for sure as I don’t know what the future holds. I am not against controlled use by intelligent individuals. I understand the risks and if the time comes I will make a decision based on my, then current, circumstances… but probably not 🙂
Do I oppose the legalization? Tough question the answer is yes and no. I have read the research and based on personal study I believe cannabis to be safer than tobacco and not as physically addictive as caffeine. I have seen the good it can do for chemo patients. In fact I am in favor of the controlled legalization when talking actual, proven medical use. Seriously if cigarettes are legal, which have proven health detriments and no positives then why has it taken so long for cannabis? My problem comes in the fact that as a society we don’t need anything else to dull our senses. I think we are going backwards and that tobacco should be criminalized while marijuana is offered as a pharmaceutical.
In the end I firmly believe that education is key. Those in power need to help the public in making educated decisions for the betterment of health. Cannabis can help many people, it can also hurt. Use proper judgement, stay in touch with the physical and mental state and try to have fun doing it 😉
Health Risks of Marijuana Use – Health Canada
Is Marijuana Addictive? – Psychology Today