America is going through a new revolution all based around pot. In recent years public opinion on pot, like many other moral issues in this country, has been rapidly changing. Only a few months ago the states of Washington and Colorado voted to fully legalize marijuana, representing the latest movement forward for the path to legal marijuana.
For some years now, the U.S. has been inching ever closer towards a more European view on pot. Since as far back as the 1970’s different states throughout the U.S. began adopting various policies on pot, with many states moving to legalize or at least decriminalize types of marijuana over time. To date, in addition to Washington and Colorado, 22 states have either some form of legal (often medical) marijuana or have made steps to decriminalize the drug as a whole. The question is; is this really the direction we want to go?
In the U.S. we have a long-standing custom to tolerate things that are harmful, and even make them legal, celebrated parts of culture. Smoking is an old American tradition and one of its largest businesses. It also happens to be an extremely dangerous addiction that often eventually leads to cancer and other serious medical conditions.
This isn’t the only legal addiction in the U.S. alcohol also has roots to very early colonial America, dating back to a long European tradition. However, alcohol, in its various forms injures and kills thousands of Americans a year, through overdosing, drunkenness, car accidents and more. Now the question is, do we really want another legal drug.
Medicinal Use Of Marijuana
As marijuana goes many argue the effects and possible benefits outweigh its addictive nature. Research has actually begun to find that pot may have some medicinal benefit, such as the recent cases of children with seizures, apparently brought under control by some versions of pot. While this new development for may look promising, fully legalizing marijuana will likely have far more negative effects for many more people.
Though marijuana seems to have some positive medical benefits, such as limiting seizures or relieving pain, pot has a very noticeable effect on both psychological and physiological functioning. There’s no doubting the “high” that one gets from smoking pot and many other effects from using it, such as lowered inhibitions and even hallucinations or visual distortions. Research has even shown that using pot can depress or limit brain functioning, especially in younger users, or those who use frequently. Clearly pot carries risks for the brain, especially to younger users who would likely be lured to pot through advertising and from peer pressure (similar to the way alcohol is advertised today).
Gateway or Not? The Most Important Issue
While these issues are already cause for worry, one other, more important issue still looms for pot. Marijuana is often simply the first drug in the string of a longer and increasingly more dangerous path in drugs. As we often see in our own facility, pot is usually just the easiest and most accessible drug for people to use, and what often follows is the use of other drugs like painkillers and cocaine to “let off some steam” or to get high.
Though pot might seem innocuous by itself, it is often just the beginning for a long and disastrous drug history. As the times begin to change and culture shifts rapidly around us, we as treatment professionals have to decide what we really stand for. While marijuana has been moving on a path towards legalization all throughout the US, we are most aware of the dangers possessed by pot as a drug and have to decide: do we really want another legal drug?
Blog Post By: Jared Friedman