The dangers of marijuana use: What experts say about marijuana legalization

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DNY, Submit a bill To roll back the federal ban on marijuana that was put in place when Congress made the drug illegal more than 50 years ago.

Attitudes towards her cannabis use It has fluctuated greatly in the last century. Banned in the 1930s, criminalized in the 1950s – cultural shifts led to more leniency in the 1960s. In the 1970s, then-President Richard Nixon rejected recommendations for decriminalization, although 11 states did so independently.

The war on drugs brought the most severe punishments Growth in drug arrests. 82 percent of arrests involved marijuana, although only 6 percent resulted in criminal convictions. The approval of medical marijuana in California in 1996 began the trend toward legalization and now commercialization, leaving unresolved tensions between more liberal state policies and ongoing federal bans.

While a new look at federal policy could lead to greater uniformity when it comes to marijuana, studies continue to emphasize the drug’s harmful effects. And if the proposed legislation is passed, the number of marijuana users in the country could actually increase. Medical experts are asking policy makers to dispel the common misconception that the drug is harmless and to research data on how marijuana affects the health and well-being of its users.


The data is absolutely encouraging when it comes to the risks associated with cannabis. Dr. Ken Winters, founder of Adolescent Drug Abuse Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

Negative results include research that and suggest Relationship between marijuana smoking and respiratory symptoms such as chronic bronchitis. The drug also tends to affect school performance. “Because marijuana use impairs critical cognitive functions…many students can function at a cognitive level below their normal ability for extended periods of time,” one review from the New England Journal of Medicine Notes.

And the multiple studies Also linking marijuana use and violence. National Institute of Health study found that “marijuana use during adolescence nearly doubles the risk of intimate partner violence”; and another study From Frontiers in Psychiatry suggests “a one-way association between cannabis use and violence.” journalist Alex Berensonauthor of Tell Your Kids: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence High incidence of mental illness Along with the use of cannabis.

The data is absolutely encouraging when it comes to the risks associated with cannabis.

Meanwhile, the number of new users and their frequency of marijuana use are showing few signs of slowing. one study It found that in 2006, about 3 million Americans reported using the drug at least 300 times a year, “the standard for daily use,” the study noted. But the same study showed that by 2017, the number of users taking the drug had doubled at least 300 times a year, rising to 8 million, which is close to the number of Americans who drink every day.

The number of casual users has also increased. in 2019, 48 million Americans She reported using the drug at least once that year — which accounts for roughly 18% of the country or 1 in 5 Americans. That year the United States General Surgeon The alarm was sounded nationwide On the adverse effects of the drug, including on the developing brain and its link to psychotic disorders.

On this front, a study in scalpel It found that “the odds of developing a psychotic disorder among daily cannabis users were 3.2 times higher than those of never using cannabis.” And of course marijuana can be too addictive. “Marijuana addiction is more common than most people realize,” said Dr. Samuel Wilkinson, associate director of the Depression Research Program at Yale University School of Medicine. “Large, reliable epidemiological studies indicate that about 1 in 3 marijuana users have some form of addiction.”

Despite all the evidence, many advocates of its legalization still claim that cannabis “Relatively safe” or even “innocuous; In conjunction with a A growing number of Americans who believe that “marijuana use causes little or no harm”—a disturbing and confusing notion for public health officials. “If it were benign, no one would use it,” said neuroscientist Jasmine Heard. Tell Harvard Gazette earlier this year. “Cannabis contains more than 500 chemicals, including more than 140 cannabinoids that have a greater or lesser degree of psychopharmacological activity.”

To make matters worse, Evidence indicates That such chemicals are becoming more effective is another concern among the experts I interviewed. “The biggest disadvantage to legalizing cannabis in the United States in my mind is the lack of regulations regarding high potency cannabis products,” explained Dr. Rosalie Licardo Bacola, professor of health policy at the University of Southern California. “The US market has the highest potency products available, and with these highly potent products we are seeing increasing numbers of cannabis poisoning, cannabis hyperemesis gravidarum, psychosis, pregnant women in the emergency room, addiction, and deaths from cannabis use.”

Winters said many of these consequences could have been avoided if policymakers had listened to early warnings from public health experts. “I can’t pinpoint one harm or negative outcome that health officials have predicted that has not yet materialized,” he told me.


Of course, marijuana has become legal A major source of tax revenue for some countries. This, again, created a difficult kind of dependency. Any attempts to cut back could mean budget cuts. Then there is also the issue of new business. “There have been some increases in new jobs,” Bakula said. Cutting jobs or tax revenue isn’t politically uncommon, even if some experts suggest states may be worse off financially in the long run. “Tax revenues from marijuana sales do not cover the costs of additional damage and health issues that communities have to bear,” Winter said.

Besides quality control, tax revenue, and employment, medical marijuana may hold some potential health benefits for people with certain medical conditions. it’s for Effective temporary treatment For symptoms of multiple sclerosis, for example, the American Cancer Society has He confessed that cannabis “could be useful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.” Some make the case to use it as Pain treatment or treatment.

But experts tell me that safer alternatives to marijuana are readily available and should be considered instead. “If we think we need some type of cannabis ingredient, I’d prefer to use FDA-approved forms and avoid smoked cannabis,” Wilkinson said. “I mean, how many other drugs do you know about that smoked? Smoking marijuana can cause respiratory problems, which is one of the reasons the American Lung Association specifically warns: “We warn the public against smoking marijuana because of the risks it poses to the lungs,” according to the organization. Notes.

“Large, reliable epidemiological studies indicate that about 1 in 3 marijuana users have some form of addiction.”

Jonathan Colkins, Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, offered a similar view: “Cannabis is directly useful for addressing only a small number of things, and in most of those things there are better alternatives.” He said.

Wilkinson also noted that some people have a perception that marijuana can be helpful against depression and anxiety, “but mostly objective data show the opposite,” he said. “The problem is that people often feel a temporary delay when they get high but then tend to go back to a worse baseline,” he explained. “This is not unlike saying that alcohol helps depression or anxiety (which can happen transiently), but the objective data is overwhelming that people with alcoholism and depression or anxiety feel worse than depressed patients who don’t have alcohol problems.”


Since the harms of legalization and marketing seem to vastly outweigh the benefits, many are wondering how marijuana legalization was able to pass it so quickly and so widely, especially with the aforementioned measures Currently under consideration in Congress to liberalize the federal cannabis ban further.

“Policy makers have rallied around the mantra of ‘we have to follow the science’ when it comes to dealing with COVID-19, yet they are often overlooked by the science regarding the health effects of cannabis,” Winters said. In fact, PubMed study He points to a “sophisticated and costly lobbying campaign” that makes many Americans intolerant of a drug that “presents more serious risks than most people realize.”

Wilkinson said better testing and regulation are more important than ever. He explained, “Marijuana is different from virtually every other ‘drug’ in that it has not been subject to rigorous clinical trials regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.” Instead, state legislatures, using a variety of criteria, decided somewhat arbitrarily that it could be used within its jurisdiction as a disease of many health disorders.”

In addition to regulating and slowing rationing efforts, health officials also want to improve messaging and education along the lines of when cigarettes were lit up after they were presented as “Cool, cheap, legal and socially acceptableThroughout the mid-20th century. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School Wrote for NBC NewsTo bridge the gap between cannabis science and public cognition.

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