Marijuana is always a tricky subject to tackle. More often than not, there will be smoked-out hippies defending it and middle class suburbanites attacking it. As some states have voted to legalize it, and others have softened laws about its use, I was looking for some unbiased information on whether or not marijuana is “healthy” for use.
Now that raises the question: what is healthy? Health is defined as “the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living organism” (thank you, Wikipedia). So I will be judging the herbage on whether or not it meets that criteria.
Right off the bat, it is smoke going into your lungs so it’s a carcinogen. That means it can cause cancer. Scientists are still arguing over whether inhaling marijuana smoke is more or less dangerous than sucking in cigarette smoke, but either way, it can’t be healthy for you. Frequent use of the drug can also irritate or damage your lungs and increase your heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking. So that most likely isn’t beneficial to your health.
By using marijuana, you gain a sense of euphoria and an out-of-body experience. This is likely why it is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S., according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Chronic use of the drug during your teen years can result in loss of memory, lowered IQ, inability to concentrate, increased depression and loss of motivation . . . so, definitely not healthy. I did say, however, “chronic use.” Proponents of marijuana cite studies that have suggested these side effects are lessened in recreational or light use of the drug. Of course, then you get into the sticky situation of determining what should be considered “chronic” and what is “recreational.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, chronic use is defined as smoking marijuana 27 days out of 30.
But then I discovered thanks to DrugWarFacts.org that there has never been a recorded overdose-related death caused by the mean green. I assumed that thanks to lung damage, cancer or loss of IQ, someone would have died from years and years of use of it. This isn’t the case. Many states including New Hampshire, New York, California and Massachusetts have legalized medicinal marijuana. Medicinal marijuana is utilized to help people in extreme pain and suffering such as cancer patients. It eases their pain, and since it probably isn’t going to kill them (there’s a reason you’ve never heard of medicinal crack), they smoke it. In Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, the drug has been completely legalized, and their mortality, murder and injury rates have not gone up (if anything, the food service business has gotten a boost).
Marijuana walks the fine line between being classified as a drug for good reason (remember all those side effects) and being able to truly help people in pain. It is fairly non-addictive. I believe that it’s not the drug that hurts people, it’s the people who hurt the drug’s reputation. People are dumb, let’s face it, and they are most certainly dumb enough to think they’re okay to use a mind-altering drug every day or drive while under the influence. No surprise. But there are some times when using the drug can be relatively safe or even medically beneficial. Alcohol is legal and that hurts and kills a lot more people than marijuana.