Marijuana legalization: Damn the science, full speed ahead

By Jim Gogek

If tobacco was not legal, and we knew the full scientific extent of its health impacts, would we legalize it today?

Not a chance. A substance that’s dangerously addictive and kills half the people who use it as directed? The FDA would never allow it. But we didn’t know the science hundreds of years ago, and tobacco became a common part of society. It’s too late to illegalize it.

Several states are considering legalization of marijuana. While the federal government has said it will not allow marijuana to be legal, state ballot initiatives notwithstanding, many Americans who would vote to legalize marijuana are doing so without knowing – or without believing – the science about the drug.

While we don’t know the full extent of marijuana’s impacts, we know enough to declare it harmful. Research over the last two decades has dramatically enhanced our knowledge about marijuana.

Here’s a sample of what we know, and the research that shows it. Don’t believe me, though. Read the research for yourself.

Marijuana is linked to a lot of health problems:

  • Hall W, Degenhardt L. Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet, 2009. “The most probable adverse effects include a dependence syndrome, increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease, and adverse effects of regular use on adolescent psychosocial development and mental health.”

It harms the brain, particularly the adolescent brain:

Marijuana smoke harms the lungs:

And it contains carcinogens:

  • Evidence on the carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, 2009. “…There is some evidence from studies in humans that marijuana smoke is associated with increased cancer risk… the similarities in chemical composition and in toxicological activity between marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke, and the presence of numerous carcinogens in marijuana (and tobacco) smoke, provide additional evidence of carcinogenicity…”

It’s linked to mental illness, especially schizophrenia:

Marijuana use by drivers doubles the risk of car crashes:

No matter what anybody says, marijuana is addictive:

And finally, a big problem for our high-tech, innovation-based economy is that marijuana, frankly speaking, makes you stupid:

The point is this: We’re learning more and more about the impacts of marijuana on disease, mental health, car crashes and education, and it doesn’t look good. We’ll learn more as research continues.

Marijuana may not be as dangerous as tobacco or alcohol, but that’s no reason to legalize it. We already have two harmful, legal drugs in tobacco and alcohol. Why increase the death, disease, disability and economic damage they cause by adding a third one?

This entry was posted in Addiction, Drug abuse, Marijuana, Marijuana legalization, Medical marijuana, MJ lobby, Pot doc, Recovery, Substance abuse, Substance use disorder treatment, Treatment, Weed and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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