Marijuana a serious threat to mental health

(Graphic by Kate Turner)

Unfortunately, whenever a legalization-related issue arises on any subject, it is easy for the pro-legalization crowd to fall into the pit of denial. In no other group is this more true than within the marijuana legalization movement.

While I am not opposed to marijuana legalization, I am opposed to the fact-denying attitude that many within the legalization movement unfortunately hold.

The portrayal of marijuana as a harmless plant that poses no threat to society and no dangers to the individuals who use it is entirely false.

True, one could argue that many of its risks come from the act of smoking itself, meaning the risk of cancer, and that if it were legal, other, healthier forms of ingestion would become more widespread.

However, the act of smoking and the associated physical health risks are hardly the only threat that this drug poses.

The primary problem is the one that is most often denied, mocked and belittled whenever anyone raises it as a legitimate issue: the danger to mental health.

For some, the experience of being high can go beyond the mere stereotype of a general sense of vague paranoia. It can be utterly terrifying.

I’ve had experiences with marijuana far more reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno than Dazed and Confused,  and this is a big part of why I no longer use it.

These incidents may not be experienced by the majority of marijuana users, but they also can’t be treated as the experience of some irrelevant minority.

When talking about my negative experiences on marijuana, some marijuana users are understanding and take me seriously, but many don’t and insist the problem must be entirely in my own mind and not with the drug itself. The facts speak otherwise.

Marijuana has a long documented history of triggering paranoid feelings similar to those of schizophrenia; never mind the damage to memory and overall intelligence.

A recent study headed by Madeline Meier, a postdoctoral researcher of Duke University, shows that prolonged marijuana use by teenagers can be harmful to the developing brain, to the extent of lowering adulthood IQ’s by almost ten points on average.

There is one major threat that marijuana legalization poses, which the legality of alcohol does not.

Alcohol, even by its most devoted worshippers, is widely acknowledged as a substance, which poses many dangers.

Drinking and driving, the potential as an agent for rape, the propensity it creates for violent behavior — these are risks that almost nobody can deny and are taken seriously.

Marijuana, however, is widely considered to be a drug without any significant dangers.

By legalizing marijuana, it would mean legalizing a threat that a great portion of society refuses to even recognize as harmful.

In a way, as societal attitudes currently stand, it would make the legality of marijuana more dangerous than the legality of alcohol, because it would be allowing a threat, which many people would laughingly dismiss.

It begs the question, which is the greater danger? The obvious one that everybody recognizes, or the subtle risks that elude many people’s radars and is often regarded as not dangerous at all.

If there was ever a non-hypocritical and non-self-contradictory argument against marijuana legalization and for the continued legality of alcohol, that would be it.

Alcohol, for all the social problems it’s involved in, is something people are well aware of and the dangers it presents are often discussed.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for marijuana.

Not only are the effects not recognized, but they are often vehemently denied.

People who point out the dangers are often dismissed and ridiculed by the marijuana-using community, including those such as myself who have experienced the darker side of this drug.

It could be argued that alcohol on the whole, is more harmful. This still doesn’t negate the fact that alcohol is a threat that people actually recognize.

Marijuana is harmful but often isn’t even seen as dangerous, but a peaceful, mellow drug.

For marijuana to be legalized, an important first-step is educating people on the possible effects of the drug.

Similarly, the dominant attitude toward treating these threats as trivial and irrelevant need to be entirely diminished before we can welcome a new set of dangers to our society.

Tags:

12 Comments

  1. Dr. Paul Mallet of Laurier’s Psychology Department (specifically, behavioural neuroscience) has been studying cannabinoids for years. He is an amazing professor and expert on all things marijuana-related. If you want to learn more, go speak to him. If you want to remain as ignorant as this article, then by all means don’t. It seems like you didn’t even bother to research the topic and just wrote this article after hearing 12 of your friends call it mellow and harmless.

    And feel free to tell him I sent you.

  2. lmao Emilio totally ruining my point :P

  3. To save you some steps in researching the pertinent facts from another long-term study of substance abuse and related harms, I’ll link you! http://dobrochan.ru/src/pdf/1109/lancetnorway.pdf

  4. Wow. Cord strikes again. Who is this kid? I would like to congratulate him for stating in a public forum that he is a past drug user and for his excessive comma use…

  5. James, although you have some points here referring to marijuana as a mental health issue causing paranoia and schizophrenia, I don’t think that you see the whole picture. While I agree the drug can be a hindrance in teens if used in excess because of the stage of life they are in as well as the development of their brain, pot is a natural substance that has also been researched and used in a healing way. Patients who are completely unable to use any other pharmaceutical drugs have used pot to help their pain, as well as people who use it to clear their minds. Because you had a bad experience smoking, doesn’t make the drug a negative substance that can do more harm than good. Any drug has this potential and it truly depends on each individual. If the government was to legalize pot they would have to have as many health warnings on it as any other drug they produce, not to mention pharmaceuticals that have about 50 warning labels from stroke, to heart attack to cancer, as well as a potential to cause mental health. But personally I would take a natural plant, grown from the earth, over some chemical laden man made substance. Maybe you were just in a bad head space when you tried it, maybe it’s not the drug for you, but who has the right to say that what is right for one person isn’t right for another?

  6. Nicely put Roy, I agree with you!

  7. Well exactly. The argument that any substance should be illegal because it has the potential to harm people is inherently flawed because we simply have to allow people to accept risks associated with their behaviour and reap the consequences. Otherwise, why not ban everything? You can use a stuffed bear to suffocate someone if you felt like it, so in order to stop bear-centric suffocations everywhere, ban stuffed animals. See: pot makes some people paranoid, stupid and/or schizophrenic.

  8. Even if cannabis was really bad/dangerous for you, we would still need to seriously re-evaluate things because it’s basically the number 1 commodity fuelling the brutal Mexican drug war which is currently the most deadly war going on this earth right now.

Leave a Reply