There is a difference between truth and facts. The truth is that regardless of whether marijuana is legal, a large group of people will continue to use it recreationally. The facts are that it has a negative impact in the lives of those who do and that illicit drug use affects everyone around the user.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in America. When people use marijuana on a regular basis, it increases suicidal tendencies, especially in those with social anxiety disorder, according to a study on marijuana use and suicidality by Buckner et. al.
An oft-heard reason for legalizing the drug is that “no one has ever died from smoking too much pot.” That is a misconception. People have died by suicide while intoxicated or by being killed by someone who was high in what otherwise could have been avoided. Often the offender lives while the victims die or are seriously injured.
Some say marijuana isn’t addictive. Since the 1950s, marijuana use has increased mostly due to the higher potency levels of THC in the plants. Tests done on marijuana show that levels have increased from between 1 to 5 percent to between 10 to 15 percent, according to a study by Bailey et.al. titled, “Cannabis Use Disorders: Epidemiology, comorbidity, and pathogenesis.”
Marijuana users suffer from withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, irritability, poor quality and quantity of sleep, aggression cravings for the drug and decreased food consumption when they try to quit.
Research shows that frequent use of marijuana has negative effects on the user. Effects may include lower libido and testosterone levels in males, increased heart rate by 20 to 100 percent for up to three hours after ingestion, smoker’s cough and a 4.8-fold increase in risk for heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. In pregnant users, the risk of neurobehavioral problems in the baby increases.
Possible long-term cardiopulmonary problems, anxiety, hallucinations, depression, dependence on and abuse of the drug also are issues. Heavy use can lower IQ in individuals who begin using on a regular basis in early adolescence.
It is linked to higher dropout rate in schools, mental health problems, psychosis, cognitive and neural impairment and exacerbation of schizophrenia symptoms in those with genetic tendencies. While some of the problems can be reversed if the user abstains from using, others cannot.
Marijuana has been shown to double the risk of an accident occurring. A large number of users also use alcohol and other recreational drugs. When used together, they are far more potent than when used alone, because all of them impair judgment and motor coordination.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse survey, “Monitoring the Future,” found an increase in individuals who believe the drug is harmless and positively linked that with an increase in users in the eighth, ninth and 12th grades since 2007. When kids use marijuana, they are more likely to become dependent on or abuse it. Peer pressure is a big factor for adolescent and young adult users. People often use the drug to ease tension, relax, relieve social anxiety and to “fit in.”
The main mind-altering chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly called THC. When smoked, it passes quickly into the bloodstream and on to the brain and other vital organs. It reaches the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. It reacts with them as if they actually were endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, which occur naturally in the human body as part of the neural communication network.
Endocannabinoids are vital to the development of the brain and its function. They influence pleasure, thinking, concentration, memory, time perception, coordination and sensory function.
Using marijuana overstimulates the endocannabinoid system, causing a “high” feeling, distorted perception, disrupted learning and a myriad of other issues.
In the professional world, marijuana use is discouraged because users often are absent, late, get in accidents and file for worker’s compensation or quit, which leads to high turnover. Training new employees is costly. Professors don’t like students coming to class high because they distract, disrupt the class, ask questions that don’t make sense or were just answered and make some people feel unsafe.
NIDA’s report, “Drug Abuse: Marijuana,” states that heavy users report a lower quality of life satisfaction, poor physical and mental health, less success in careers and academics and relationship problems compared to peers from similar backgrounds.
The effect legalizing marijuana would have on the economy doesn’t compare with the effects on society. While Cheech and Chong were funny in movies, living with drug users is not funny. It makes life hard, unstable and sometimes dangerous. Educating oneself about the real dangers of using marijuana on a regular basis is vital to making a logical decision about whether to vote for its legalization. Making such a decision because you or someone you know used it is ignorant.
The quality of your life is in your hands. Don’t throw it away.
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