Marijuana is America’s favorite, best-kept secret, illegal pastime. It is estimated that roughly 15 million people in the United States smoke marijuana regularly. Over 80 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried lighting up at least once.
Marijuana, a.k.a. weed, a.k.a. cannabis, a.k.a. ganja, a.k.a. that sticky sh*t, is a plant that contains THC — a psychoactive chemical (tetrahydrocannabinol). It is the most commonly used drug in America and one that has been making headlines somewhat frequently in the past year or so, especially since two states (Colorado and Washington) have legalized the recreational use of the drug.
Unfortunately, the drug remains illegal on a federal level. But why? The government is of course giving us their own statistics that show how bad marijuana is, how addicting it is and how badly it is affecting its users. Although, when I did a bit of digging myself, I found exactly the opposite. Here are 6 truths that I found on our favorite topic of late night “discussion” amid the munchies:
1. Marijuana is not a gateway drug.
Because marijuana is our country’s drug of choice, those who now use cocaine, heroin, LSD or any other hard drug have undoubtedly smoked weed at some point in their lives — perhaps it was even their first drug of choice. However, there is no proof that there is any causal relationship between using marijuana and then going on to use other drugs.
Most weed smokers never use any other illicit drug and simply stick to bud. For most people that try marijuana, it is usually the last stop of their drug escapades. According to the Canadian Senate’s 2002 study: Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy, “Cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use.”
A study done by US National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine 1999 stated that marijuana is not a “gateway drug to the extent that it is a cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse.”
2. Most teens in drug rehabilitation centers are there for marijuana use — not abuse.
Somewhere around 800,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana possession. Not for growing or distributing, but for simply possessing their own stash. The government spends between $5.3 billion to $7.7 billion a year on annual arrests and prosecutions of those for marijuana violations.
Federal data show that marijuana treatment admissions that were referred by the criminal justice system rose from 48% in 1992 to 58% in 2006. More than 30% of those admitted hadn’t even used marijuana for the 30 days prior to being admitted. Basically, the government is arresting more people for recreational marijuana use than ever before and then is sending them to rehab. They are using these statistics to show how marijuana is a growing ‘problem’ while they themselves skew the data.
3. Marijuana does not cause or increase the risk of cancer.
There are plenty of studies that are available showing that long-term use of marijuana — even when smoked — is not associated with elevated risk of cancers, including cancers related to tobacco use or cancers related to the following areas: lung, melanoma, breast, prostate, colorectal or cervix.
A population-based study in 2009 found that moderate weed smoking over a 20-year period was associated with reduced risk of head and neck cancer. There have been studies that even show that heavy marijuana smoking is NOT associated with lung cancer or UAT cancers (upper aerodigestive tract). There are plenty of studies you yourself can find pointing toward the benefits of smoking marijuana.
4. Marijuana use is proven to treat symptoms of various medical conditions.
Chemotherapy cancer patients will often use marijuana to reduce the nausea the therapy induces. It likewise stimulates the appetite of AIDS patients and reduces intraocular pressure in people suffering from glaucoma. Furthermore, weed helps reduce the spasticity of muscles in patients with neurological disorders.
It helps reduce pain and makes living with a disorder much more bearable. Research now shows that marijuana has properties that are neuro-protective and can even help the body fight against certain types of malignant tumors. More than 60 U.S. and international health organizations support granting immediate access to medicinal marijuana to patients under a physician’s supervision.
5. Weed has not shown to cause long-term cognitive impairment.
Yes, smoking a jay will lead to immediate and short-term changes in your thoughts, your perceptions and in the way you process information. Short-term memory is affected the most. As of now there is no non-debatable evidence showing that smoking marijuana has long-term effects that last post-intoxication.
Many complain about the drugs effects lasting for days after the high — this is because the THC is still present in your system. Once the chemical leaves your system, you should be back to normal. Of course, the more regularly you smoke, the longer this will take. Federally sponsored population studies conducted in Greece, Jamaica and Costa Rica found no significant differences in brain function between long-term smokers and non-users.
6. The rise in marijuana potency is vastly over-exaggerated.
Yes, the potency of marijuana has increased as producers have experimented with different strands, but not as much as the government would have us believe. The NIDA-sponsored Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project states that less than 10% of DEA seized marijuana samples are above 15% THC and that less than 2% of weed seized from the domestic market contains more than 20% THC.
Regardless, the potency of marijuana has no impact on any risks that may possibly be associated with marijuana. People smoke until they are high… then they usual stop to eat or pass out. Most of the marijuana on the market contains less than 5% THC. But better — excuse me — stronger strains can be found on the market if one looks hard enough.