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Addiction, it’s an ugly word, but unfortunately a very common one. It is wifely stated that the first step to overcoming an addiction is to admit that there is a problem. But many who smoke marijuana insist there is no problem. Take “Clay” for example, he smokes marijuana daily but says he’s not addicted. But when Clay doesn’t smoke he seems to be angrier, more prone to outbursts, and seems to be struggling with tasks. Despite what is often claimed, marijuana is an addictive substance and “data suggests that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder…” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Is Marijuana Addictive?). These users are so accustomed to thinking that smoking marijuana is not only fine, but somehow healthy is giving them the false impression it’s good to smoke. They fail to realize the harm they’re doing to their body and the harm they’re doing to others when they’re under the influence. Clay is aware he acts differently when he doesn’t smoke, but thinks the best option is to smoke to feel normal again. It becomes controlling, it becomes about when they’ll be able to get it again but fail to see the power this drug has over them. If this becomes legalized for reactional use, it will only turn into another addiction that Americans can feel good about getting. This society has already become extremely unhealthy and this will just be another nail in the coffin rather than the help people claim it will be. Now add another nail for the abuse it’ll cause, for the mental degradation, and another for the social and personal effects.

In today’s society, people are quickly becoming enamored with the idea of legalizing the drug marijuana. As of right now in March of 2019, there are 10 states that allow the recreational smoking of marijuana with many other states decriminalizing and allowing the use of medical marijuana. “About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized” (Hartig) According to Pewresearch. Using the same data, we saw the sharp rise in this thought around 2010 when the millennial generation started reaching the age of voting. This new generation of people with their own thoughts and ideas decided they wanted to help decide on the debate. The main stances of pro marijuana voters are the recreational and calming affects, as well as the medicinal effects on patients who suffer from a myriad of disease. It helps by increasing hunger, reduce pain, and reduce inflammation. CBD, on the other hand, does similar things but isn’t used recreationally as it doesn’t produce the “high” effect of THC. On the other side of the debate are generally the older generation who believe marijuana was legalized for a reason and should stay illegal. Regardless of what is being smoked, the mere act of having non-oxygen flow into the lungs is damaging to the body. Then there is the effect it’s prized for; the “high” feeling. This causes impaired judgement, effects memory, and damages problem-solving skills. The main issue with the recreational use is that it’s used as an escape, much like alcohol and tobacco, in which people are looking for an endorphin release just to “ease the stress” or “take away the pain,” instead of seeking help they may actually need. Then right in the middle are the people who believe medicinal marijuana is the right middle man in this argument. Because the studies have shown that it helps patients who are suffering from a laundry list of issues with symptoms. The only issue present with this in-between is how it is handled in the community. Doctors are supposed to give them out to patients for very strict issues but aren’t following procedures. It has become a joke with how easy someone can get a medical card by just walking into a clinic and claiming they get headaches sometimes.

Marijuana should not be legalized for recreational use, the risk of it just becoming a new alcohol or tobacco is just too high. The dangers are present for this drug to be misused just as much as alcohol is today. If people are driving around and causing issues now while it’s illegal, it can only get worse if it becomes legalized. Although, the benefits begin to outweigh the negatives when it comes to medicine. Marijuana has been shown to have increasingly beneficial effects on patients suffering from acute pain and a list of other illnesses. Marijuana has an undeniably huge impact on our culture. It is basically its own brand, with a sizable following who would defend it to the death. Right now, it is considered wrong by most to be against legalization, but just because there’s a sizeable following doesn’t make it the best choice. To be against marijuana is to be a loser, or a “buzzkill,” or just an idiot. As a society, we are all aware of the effects of marijuana and have seen the changes it brings about. There are many dangers drugs in our society that are tolerated, such as alcohol which ultimately should not be allowed, weed shouldn’t be either. If we could keep a lid on marijuana and steer people away from it entirely, our communities could only grow better as a result. Less drug deals, lower crime, increased productivity, and an entire culture switch into a better direction.

There was some point of discussion about addiction previously, but it has not captured the full scope of what addiction truly is. Addiction is defined as “a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Understanding Drug Use and Addiction) These people who are addicted find themselves constantly seeking out the drug and dealing with intense urges to use their drug. Addiction effects the brain become oversaturated with dopamine which causes a sense of euphoria. This dopamine rush causes the brain to change and “cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs[,]” which leads to reuse in the future (Understand Drug Use and Addiction). As a person begins to rely more and more on this false sense of euphoria from marijuana they begin to have a lessened experience when it relates to previously enjoyed activities similar to how depression works on the brain. Where a person who may enjoy going on a daily hike suddenly just doesn’t feel interested enough, or they decide to smoke before going on the hike. The daily activity of a smoker begins to revolve around marijuana, feeling they need it to do basic functions of life. Take the example of Mr. Clay, the first thing he does when he wakes up is get high; feeling it’s necessary. Then when he comes to work he smokes again, needing it to get through work, he feels he can’t make it without getting high. Then after work he heads home where he decides to relax with getting high again by watching television. When asked whether or not Clay though he was addicted, he replied with no. He feels he has a hold on it and he only does it because it makes him happy and gets him through the day. Unfortunately, this is a very common sentiment shared and “60 percent of high school seniors say they think marijuana is safe” (Hudgens). These teenagers see marijuana as something a person is unable to overdose on and assume it’s safe because it’s better than alcohol or tobacco. Being better than doesn’t mean it’s safe, McDonalds is safe to eat but no one is going to claim it’s good for you. This misinformation is only going to grow exponential as people like to hear what they want to hear. If they like smoking marijuana, they hold a confirmation bias with information pertaining to the safety of the drug. If they’re told it’s safe they are likely to believe it because our culture has encouraged knee-jerk reactions based solely on what they want to hear rather than confirming for themselves; take the Nick Sandmann controversy for example.

If a person was asked whether or not marijuana was dangerous to their health the chances are they would reply with no. When asking the public, it came to light that “51 percent say using marijuana is a health risk, while 44 percent say it is not” and many claim tobacco is much more dangerous (Ingraham). While cigarettes have been shown to be extremely dangerous and are the leading cause of preventable death, they’re similarly related. Many of the carcinogens found in tobacco smoke are also found in marijuana, regardless of what plant is being burned it’s dangerous for your health. Because of the way marijuana is smoked, it poses a lot of risks compared to normal tobacco smoking. While tobacco is usually brought into the lungs then exhaled quickly, marijuana is held in the lungs for a longer period of time which allows more of these carcinogens to enter the body. It has also been shown to increase lung problems such as bronchitis and other respiratory issues. While it is true that, so far, marijuana has not been not been as dangerous as cigarettes, it is still a danger. Many mental health issues associated with smoking marijuana have been presented, and even “possible loss of IQ points when repeated use begins in adolescence[,]” which is dangerous as people are smoking younger now too (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Commonly Abused Drugs Charts). It can even cause more serious mental health issues, ‘[c]annabis use is likely to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk’ as shown by the institute of medicine (Berenson, Don’t Ignore the Risks of Pot). It has been used by many because it feels it “calms them down” and help with anxiety but many suffer from worse anxiety than before they started. This is caused by compounds that are found in marijuana, mostly THC, that binds to receptors in your brain that affect your brain. This then can affect “learning functions and… how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Marijuana).

It would not be a lie to say that marijuana has a huge role in our society. It has become sort of a cultural icon that has a lot of power over many part of our population. Unfortunately, most of the power it has over the population is negative. There have been strong correlations between those who smoke marijuana and “productivity, quality control, absenteeism, workers’ comp claims, workplace accidents and other business metrics that affect profitability” which leads employers to not want to hire people who smoke (Legalizing…). But under the law, if it becomes legal, employers no longer have the right to refuse those who would fail a drug test for marijuana (Legalizing). The legalization of marijuana also puts drivers at risk as Colorado saw a more than double the rate of fatal crashes due to marijuana after legalization. In Colorado, stated by Ryan Searle who is on the American Board of Emergency Medicine, “[o]f the 547 traffic fatalities in 2015, 99 were due to marijuana, 187 to alcohol and 35 to both” (Legalizing…). This is a dangerous fact as we are all aware of the danger alcohol plays on our roadways and just a few short years after legalization of marijuana we see this huge spike in fatal accidents. American has also seen an increase in the potency of this drug over many years which is putting even more risk on our society. “In the 1970s, most marijuana contained less than 2% THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20-25% THC” (Berenson, REVIEW…). This is an issue as more Americans are not only smoking marijuana, but there smoking it in large quantities. In the same article about the strength of marijuana, America has seen that the number od frequent smokers has increased from 3 to 8 million Americans. Even more astounding is the fact that due to our knowledge on marijuana, we are able to produce edible versions that are up to 99% THC. For people who are inexperienced with the drug this may be too much for their body to handle. It won’t cause death due to overdose, but it is certainly capable of causing the user to die in other ways. One of the issues with marijuana that even advocates for the legalization can’t deny is the risk of paranoia and anxiety. Paranoia in itself is a harbinger for violence as it causes the person to act irrationally, and sometimes violently. Many claim that violence dropped in states where legalization went through, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Before legalizing marijuana these “four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013 [and] [i]n 2017, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults” (Berenson, REVIEW…). This jump is data is too high to claim as normal variation. America must ask itself whether or not it’s capable of handling the responsibility that this drug; and the answer is no.

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Perhaps the most dangerous thing associated with marijuana is just the clear lack of knowledge everyone has on the subject. Marijuana research has not been as fruitful as everyone would like. Due to the way the government handles drug scheduling, marijuana is seen as a drug with absolutely no medical use and a high chance of abuse. This means that researchers are having an issue researching this drug. Marijuana is “still largely a mystery and… the lack of evidence-based information poses a public health risk” (The Lack…). Our inability to research this drug is a threat due to us not knowing the exact causes of smoking as well as all the long-term effects. It could turn out to be extremely dangerous for human consumption and cause severe health issues much like cigarettes and alcohol. It is unwise to legalize such a wholly untested item to the general public. It should be allowed to be studied for several years before being allowed into the hands of those who would use it without restraint. America has already seen the way mis-information can spread through media and confirmation bias of those who smoke it. Such claims as Marijuana being health, or harmless, or even that it cures diseases. While it has been shown to help in certain medical conditions, to claim it has healing properties is just false and a gross distortion of the truth.

Smoking marijuana is starting at earlier and earlier ages, take Mr. Pohl for example. “For Quintin Pohl and other teenagers before him, smoking pot was a rite of passage[,]” showing an early indoctrination to the drug before they fully can grasp what’s happening (Vestal). For Quintin it become an unbreakable habit that changed who he was as a person. He started hanging out with the wrong group and it began to show as he began smoking large amounts of pot, daily. At this point his mother began seeking help, she then admitted her son to Muir Wood, which is an organization that helps teens with issues such as these. He went through standard withdrawal symptoms where he stated, “he went through a week of pure misery at the rehab center: angry, in denial and suffering” (Vestal). It was the that suddenly he overcome his addiction and was able to enjoy life again. Now it is common knowledge that the first step to solving a problem, like addiction, is to admit that there is even a problem in the first place. This is an issue as many people don’t want to admit there’s a problem, they convince themselves and others that they have a legitimate use for marijuana. Findings such as when a survey “asked why they currently use marijuana, only 16 percent of smokers said it was [‘]just to have fun[;][‘] The rest cited a variety of utilitarian reasons” (Ingraham). The stereotypical thought of a stoner is someone eating snacks while giggling to themselves over the smallest things. With the history of marijuana being a “party” drug, it’s hard to believe the thought that suddenly over 80% of the smokers have a good reason for doing it. They’re lying to themselves and being convinced by whatever issue they think they have. They are trying to legitimize their claim to push a marijuana agenda forward; otherwise they could just simple state “I smoke marijuana because I enjoy it.” Whether subconsciously or not, they know what they are doing is wrong as seek to convince America of this. Addiction is curable, while the craving may never go away, and it will lead to a healthier life.

It would be easier to dismiss these claims if the drug were not classified as a schedule 1, It is becoming extremely apparent that this drug no longer belongs in this classification as it has been proven to have medical benefits. Not to mention that fact that marijuana isn’t as dangerous as other items listed such as ecstasy, LSD, and heroin. Lowering the schedule of marijuana would allow for further and more frequent testing giving America a better understand of this drug. As it stands right now our understand of the drug is extremely limited and needs to be tested. We need to find out what this drug does over long-periods of time, it’s correlation to mental health, and whether or not it truly has medicinal qualities or if it’s just a symptom reliever such as Advil.

On the opposite side of the argument lies those who push for the medical use of marijuana; and rightly so. Allowing marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes would serve a variety of useful purposes. It would allow those who are in severe pain to have an option against insanely addictive opiate drugs; reducing the risk of addiction overall. It would alleviate certain symptoms, especially in cancer patients as it increases appetite. This allows the patients to begin eating again and reduces the sense of nausea that accompanies it. The anxiety relief from marijuana allows them to overcome to the mental stress of the disease as well. The CBD oil that can be produced from marijuana has also been shown to help reduce seizures in those with epilepsy. It also, while dangerous, give us information on the drug with human test subjects. We are able to see first hand how this drug can be used, and how it can be helpful or hurtful to the body. It is seemingly a better alternative to help people overcome pain than with opiates and should be allowed in all states, which is quickly becoming the case.

As scientists learn new information through clinical trials and research, they should present this information to the general public. America should be allowed to make a fully informed decision about whether marijuana should or should not be legalized for recreational use. As it stands right now there is not enough evidence to show that marijuana is healthy enough to allow for normal use. The average person can not be trusted that they will not abuse this drug, risking injury upon themselves or others. We have seen data of the heightened risk that comes when any person is allowed to smoke. This coupled with the negative mental and physical effects that have been attributed to marijuana indicate that danger is close at hand. With as much proof as there is now, things are likely to only get worse for this drug, as we find more and more issues with it. Only science and time will tell whether or not marijuana is truly beneficial and whether it should be allowed in the hands of Americans without restriction.

The question remains, why is this an issue, why should America care. The real question is why someone would not care about their country or the dangers presented. Why would a person allow this drug to be distributed when very little is known about it? America is in the middle of a culture war right now. A culture war, that if won, can only shape us into a better nation than we were previously. It may sound extremely dramatic, but it’s true. At the very least more information needs to be gained about cannabis before anything should be done with it. This should be America’s top priority regarding marijuana and should accept no shortcuts on the path to legalization.

Works Cited

  1. Berenson, Alex. ‘Don’t Ignore the Risks of Pot.’ New York Times, Jan 05, 2019. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/2163310023?accountid=227.
  2. Berenson, Alex. ‘REVIEW — Marijuana is More Dangerous than You Think — as Legalization Spreads, More Americans are Becoming Heavy Users of Cannabis, Despite its Links to Violence and Mental Illness.’ Wall Street Journal, Jan 05, 2019. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/2163316094?accountid=227.
  3. ‘Legalizing Marijuana: The Pros and Cons.’ Wall Street Journal, Jun 21, 2018. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/2057314106?accountid=227.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.” NIDA, 2 July 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts#marijuana.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Is Marijuana Addictive?” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” NIDA, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/ublications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
  8. Hartig, Hannah, et al. “62% Of Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 8 Oct. 2018, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/08/americans-support-merijuana-legalization/.
  9. Hudgens, Laura H. Teens Tend to Think Marijuana use is no Big Deal, but they’re Wrong. WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post, Washington, 2017. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/1889962816?accountid=227.
  10. Ingraham, Christopher. 11 Charts that show Marijuana has Truly Gone Mainstream. WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post, Washington, 2017. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/1889602475?accountid=227.
  11. ‘The Lack of Health Research into Marijuana Makes it Hard to Tell People Whether it is Safe.’ProQuest, Dec 27, 2017, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/1981298849?accountid=227
  12. Vestal, Christine. ‘Marijuana Addiction is Real, and Rising.’ The Washington Post, Jun 26, 2018. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu:2443/login?url=https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy.scottsdalecc.edu/docview/2058880948?accountid=227.

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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