There is a big difference between legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing marijuana. People who smoke weed probably shouldn’t be sitting in jail for years. However, its use should not be encouraged.
While weed is less harmful than opioids and alcohol, it is not harmless. It contains THC, which causes short-term and long-term side effects.
Some short-term side effects of THC use include:
- Mood changes
- Changes in perception
- Impaired memory
- Lowered mental faculties, like the ability to think and problem solve
- Loss of muscle coordination
As for long-term side effects, it’s no secret that those who become dependent on marijuana are at risk for breathing problems, heart attack, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, and possibly even lower IQ.
Gateway Drugs Are Real
Numerous studies have demonstrated that marijuana use can lead to abuse of other substances, especially in adolescents. Some of the research has to do with the development of the adolescent brain and how THC alters brain chemistry. Much of it, however, is psychological.
The goal should not be to find a “less harmful” substance; the goal should be to use no substances. Why do people smoke marijuana? Sometimes, it’s due to peer pressure, and sometimes, it’s because they are under the impression that doing so is harmless.
Most often, however, continued marijuana use is used as a form of self-medication.
Teens have admitted to using marijuana to cope with stress, anxiety, trouble sleeping, concentration problems, pain, and depression. Drugs and alcohol are not replacements for mental health counseling. In fact, the desire to escape can escalate. Someone uses marijuana, and someone else offers an “even better solution.” This solution could be fentanyl, heroin, binge drinking, etc.
There is a reason why doctors must be the ones to prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. They are trained. They know what is safe. And they know when someone needs more professional help.
The drug dealer on the corner doesn’t know any of that. The folks at the marijuana dispensaries don’t know the signs, either.
You Smoked Marijuana When You Were Young, And You Turned Out Just Fine.
The marijuana you may have smoked when you were younger is very different from the THC products available today. THC levels are higher, and CBD is lower. Most people who argue for the benefits of marijuana discuss how beneficial CBD is.
Potency values are closer to 30% instead of the 10% considered normal a few decades ago. Contaminants like fungus and butane are becoming more common. Increased ER visits are consistent with the increase in THC, rather than the increase in marijuana users.
The pot and pot products being sold today carry more variables and risks than when you were young.
Legal Does Not Mean Healthy.
Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in many states. If it’s so harmful, how can that be?The same way that cocaine, mercury, and heroin were once considered excellent cures. As recently as 2017, Hyland’s teething tablets were recalled due to inconsistent levels of belladonna alkaloids. The opioid epidemic is running rampant because doctors overprescribe these legal pills that kill hundreds of people daily.
If you are facing a situation with a loved one, spouse, or even a child that has started to spiral, please call me at 619-993-2738.
Scott is the Founder and CEO of Confidential Recovery, an outpatient addiction treatment program in San Diego.
About Scott H. Silverman: Scott has been fighting against addiction for over 20 years, one person, speech, and book at a time. Contact Scott by calling (619) 993-2738 or visit Your Crisis Coach to learn more about Scott’s work and public appearances. You can buy a copy of his latest book “The Opioid Epidemic” here.
(c) 2021 Scott H Silverman. All Rights Reserved.