University Press

Opinion: Legalizing recreational marijuana will put your health at risk

From increased risk of heart attacks to vomiting induced illnesses, marijuana is not as safe as you think.

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Opinion: Legalizing recreational marijuana will put your health at risk

Stone Bloom, Contributing Writer

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Editor’s note: This editorial is a counterpiece to contributing writer Pierce Trudeau’s pro-marijuana article. Expect to see dueling editorials from both writers weekly.

While it may be an unpopular opinion among young people, marijuana should not be recreationally used.

It goes without saying the medical aspects of marijuana have been beneficial in many people’s lives. But the adverse effects of the drug on a healthy adolescent body are far too great for it to be legalized for recreational use, whether it be the way it increases users’ risk of heart attack or the way it can cause illnesses with nausea and vomiting, among other negatives.

Putting facts aside, I took the liberty of furthering my argument by attending a Narcotics  Anonymous meeting. I wanted to see firsthand if marijuana had been the root cause to any of the users’ drug addictions.

I had the opportunity to have candid conversations with some users.

The majority of the people I spoke with said they started out using marijuana prior to getting into more hardcore drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

Two people I spoke with, who had been sober for three and 12 years respectively, stated that marijuana contributed to their downfall and was most definitely the gateway drug that led to their eventual heavy drug use.

All of us reading this article probably know of the terms ‘pothead,’ ‘burnout,’ and ‘stoner.’ Why is that?

It’s because we all can associate these names with someone we know, or have known.

When we think of these names, we usually don’t think of favorable character traits. We think of the person who is always out of it, can’t really hold a conversation, and does nothing but smoke.

These are people who smoke regularly. Not all marijuana users are “potheads” or “burnouts,” but I think we can all agree that the effects that marijuana has on these types of people are not good.

What happens when you smoke marijuana?

When smoking marijuana, you are essentially overcharging different areas of the brain.

By doing this on a regular basis, a user can damage their dopamine center, which can impair memory.

Marijuana users are normally greeted with a sense of relaxation. However, the drug can also cause feelings of anxiousness, paranoia, lost sense of time, impaired body movement, impaired memory, and even hallucinations.

Using marijuana at an early age can affect the necessary connections in the brain that allows for memory and learning, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). It can even impair thought processing. It’s functions such as these that are vital to proper brain development.

NIDA also found that the mental effects of marijuana in teens can lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

A recent study from the National Academy of Sciences suggests that users who consistently smoked marijuana showed signs of neuro-physiological decline from adolescence to adulthood. Subjects who had used marijuana consistently throughout adolescence into adulthood lost an average of 6 IQ points.

The more a subject was dependent on the drug, the greater the decline in IQ.

Smoking marijuana consistently can lead to serious health risks

Cognition is one thing, but marijuana can also have a great impact on physical health for both short and long periods of time.

As the years have gone by, marijuana has become more powerful than ever before. This is due to the concentration of THC in the plant continuously increasing, a Colorado-based lab named Charas Scientific found.

THC, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main chemical found in marijuana and the reason that users feel relaxed.

As THC levels rise, the drug becomes more addictive through regular use. Marijuana has even surpassed heroin to become the number one most used illegal drug for people entering “specialists addiction services” in Europe, a study published in the international scientific journal “Nature” found.

Dangers such as an increased heart rate, which can put a user at a higher risk of a heart attack, come with smoking pot. Those who smoke marijuana can also develop breathing problems, which may feature a continuous cough as well as phlegm buildup. This can increase their chances of contracting a lung infection, NIDA said.  

It doesn’t end there, though. Using marijuana regularly can lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. CHS causes severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. Approximately 2.75 million Americans aged 18-49 who smoked no less than 20 days per month possibly suffer from CHS or something similar, according to a 2018 study from the Nordic Pharmacological Society.

Is this really the path we want to take?  

We must ensure the safety of America’s health

It’s not about the legalization of marijuana having an effect on whether the crime rate in the United State goes up or down.

It’s not about legalizing marijuana because alcohol and cigarettes are legal.

Most people do not drink because they like the taste of alcohol. They drink because they like the effect alcohol has on them. Most people do not smoke cigarettes because they think it’s cool, but because of the need to smoke in order to cope or because they have become addicted.

Most people do not smoke marijuana because they like the taste, or because they think it’s cool. They smoke marijuana to achieve a high — a high that is far too dangerous to be used recreationally and on a regular basis.

Marijuana affects cannabinoid receptors within in your brain, sending messages through the nervous system. This has been proven to affect areas of the brain such as memory, learning, appetite, coordination, impaired body movement, and mood changes.

These are just some of the affects people experience within one hour of smoking marijuana.

Is this the type of drug that should be legalized for recreational use? I don’t think so, and I don’t think you should believe in the legalization of this drug, either.

Stone Bloom is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

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