Marijuana is one of the safest and most popular recreational drugs on earth, which is why it is gaining ground quickly in a fight for nationwide legalization. Many states have already made marijuana legal for both recreational and medical use, and more are following suit each election cycle. But there’s a reason that marijuana has to be legalized in the first place, and that’s that the drug has long been the victim of a pervasive misinformation campaign. Marijuana ran afoul of racial prejudices, shady journalists, and opportunistic politicians years and years ago, and it is still recovering from the wide range of lies told about it.
These lies still live in many of our heads, in the form of common fears about marijuana. Fortunately, these fears are largely unfounded. Here are a few common questions, myths, and concerns about marijuana – along with the truth about the matter.
The short answer is no. The longer answer is that just about anything can be addictive under the right circumstances. But there is a big difference between various types of addiction. The most dangerous substances are those which cause physiological dependence. These substances lead to serious withdrawal symptoms when people try to quit them. Examples include illegal drugs like heroin and legal ones like alcohol and nicotine. Then there are psychological addictions, which come in a range of their own: gambling is widely known to be dangerously addictive, while addictions to chocolate are less common. On this spectrum, marijuana is on the safer end.
This answer is even shorter: no! Marijuana is not dangerous. Marijuana is not proven to cause long-term damage in any way, and overdosing it is impossible: while a lethal dose of alcohol can fit in a bottle, a lethal dose of marijuana is so ludicrously large that ingesting it in any traditional way is impossible.
It’s possible that smoking marijuana is less healthy than consuming it in other ways, such as through edibles.
Marijuana has far fewer proven dangers than other drugs, but there have been some studies that suggest that it can worsen extreme mental illnesses, or perhaps even increase your risk of getting them. However, the risk seems to be quite small, and the connection isn’t universally agreed-upon in the scientific community.
In general, marijuana is not likely to be the root of psychological problems. Heavy dependence on marijuana, to the extent that it exists, is a symptom of mental illness – not the cause. In cases where a depressed individual relies on marijuana in the course of his or her daily life, the best treatment is psychiatry or rehab for depression, not for the marijuana use. While a depressed person may not be able to have a healthy relationship with marijuana, a typical user will not find marijuana leads to unhealthy habits and to depression – much more often, it’s the other way around.
Marijuana does have one side effect that can frighten inexperienced users: paranoia. Marijuana can make some people nervous, and while the imagined dangers are not real, the feeling can be a bit uncomfortable.
The odds of a bad marijuana experience are low, and the stakes are even lower: marijuana highs are short, and you’re not going to experience any lasting damage even if you do feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, marijuana is now available in different strains, allowing people to isolate the effects of active ingredients THC and CBD. A person who does not enjoy the effects of THC can buy CBD products, and vis versa, allowing for a customize experience that can eliminate any discomfort. And, again, an uncomfortable high is far from typical – if it was, marijuana wouldn’t be so popular!
In short, the risks of marijuana use are incredibly small – which is why, even after years of misinformation, politicians and the public have been willing to go out on a limb to legalize it. To enjoy marijuana safely, do so within the law (check your state’s regulations), in a safe environment, and while of sound mind. If you do all of this, the risks of marijuana use are so small as to be nearly nonexistant.