Legislation has fought for years over the legalization of marijuana, but in the last decade, more groups have fought hard for the drug to be legalized. There has been a massive switch in public opinion on the drug, with over 60% of Americans supporting the legalization of it. Many people have argued that marijuana is far more beneficial for Americans than it was originally portrayed to be, but they fail to see the underlying issues that surround it. In this article, we’ll be highlighting popular reasons people give for marijuana legalization and offer a rebuttal to these claims.
Marijuana Use & Your Lungs
Though some people would say marijuana would be classified as one of the least harmful illicit substances, that doesn’t mean it is without its own set of health risks. Marijuana is a drug that is often smoked through a pipe, joint, bong, etc. and any substance that is inhaled into the lungs can cause damage to lung tissue. Smoke from marijuana actually has been shown to contain as many toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Studies have shown that tobacco smoke can lead to lung cancer and other cardiovascular issues. If marijuana contains similar amounts of toxins, there’s no doubt that its smoke can lead to bigger issues in a user’s lungs. More studies are needed to understand if there is a significant connection between lung cancer and marijuana smoking.
Marijuana Use & Your Brain
Another area of health that marijuana use can have an effect on is a person’s mental health. The drug directly affects a person’s brain, having a great effect on their ability to decide, coordinate and react. It also affects the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory, emotions, learning, and attention. It pretty much slows all these things down. This drug has a significant impact on developing brains as well. Because it slows all those areas of the brain down, it can hinder the development of a young brain. Teenagers and young adults are encouraged to not partake in marijuana use because their brains are still developing. When the substance is used, the development of a person’s brain is slowed down significantly. This can be a big issue for high-schoolers and college students who are actively learning in school. The lack of attention, memory, and coordination that comes along with active marijuana use can greatly impact a young adult’s performance in school or at work.
Marijuana Use & Addiction
Marijuana advocates will argue that the substance is not as addictive as people think. Their arguments are most likely based on the idea that the withdrawal symptoms are far less severe when compared to more hardcore illicit substances. However, anything that causes withdrawal can be classified as addictive. People often dismiss anything that isn’t an abused substance as addictive, but they’d be wrong. Things such as sex, gambling, and even food can be classified as an addiction if the user experiences some form of withdrawal. Contrary to what marijuana advocates may say, statistics show that 1 in every 10 active users become addicted to the substance. Studies also show that the number increases to 1 in every 6 people who try marijuana before they turn 18 will become addicted to it. Some common signs to look for in a person who may be struggling with marijuana addiction is:
- A lack of concern for consequences when using.
- Unsuccessful efforts to quit.
- Irritability/discomfort when not on the substance.
- Ignoring important parts of life for the substance (job, friends, family, etc.)
Marijuana & Society
Advocates for marijuana legalization have a lot of arguments related to societal benefits. However, they fail to see some of the poor effects legalization of the substance may have. When marijuana is legalized in all 50 states, it could create a new version of America’s “Big Tobacco”. Across the nation, dispensaries are popping up and selling products at a rapid rate. Because of this, the demand for the product has increased immensely and has become more socially acceptable. This is similar to the normalization of alcohol use in the world. Though some people can control their alcohol consumption, many cannot and end up under the thumb of addiction. This could easily happen with marijuana users when it is legalized. Another reason why it may not be smart to legalize marijuana is that it can drive up public costs. Studies show that for “every $1 in alcohol and tobacco tax revenues, society loses $10 in social costs, from accidents to health damage.” When you factor in the health effects marijuana could have on a person, it’s easy to see that legalization may drive up societal costs. Another study shows us that in Colorado, a state that has legalized the drug, has seen a dramatic increase in teen use of the substance. The percentage of teens that use the drug in Colorado is 50% higher than the national average. Alcohol abuse in teens is already a concern for parents and now marijuana use may be as well. For developing brains, this can be detrimental and can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to learn and develop.
Though many people argue for the legalization of marijuana, they fail to realize why it could actually have negative effects on society. Marijuana can have great effects on the individual and society itself. Many people see marijuana as a harmless substance that can’t be abused, but that is far from the truth. Just like any substance, it can be easily abused. If someone used it often enough, they may be susceptible to some serious negative effects. The bottom line is that marijuana is not too different from any other substance out there; it can be easily abused. So next time you think about marijuana legalization, consider the information we discussed here. Educate yourself and make the assessment for yourself.
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