Marijuana has been coming under further scrutiny as its use becomes increasingly tolerated in the United States. Medical marijuana is a new cash crop in some states while the federal government also holds that Marijuana possession or distribution is illegal. How are those who smoke affected by pot use? What are the long term effects? Is it a gateway drug to “harder” substances? Will a child become a delinquent if they smoke up? It is time to bust some pre-conceived notions and get down to the heart of the matter
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The Controlled Substances Act does not differentiate between recreational and medical use of marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency takes an interest in medical marijuana patients and caregivers and in particular, large cultivation and distribution organizations. Scripts don’t protect from prosecution; there is a mismatch between state law and federal that has yet to be rectified.
Teenagers don’t smoke more pot in states where medical marijuana is legal. According to the Center for Disease Control, marijuana use by teenagers peaked in 2011, with one out of every 15 students disclosing that they smoke most days. It was also the first time that they found U.S. teenagers smoking more pot than cigarettes.
Holland has never legalized it. Their official policy from 1976 is to not enforce law against small amounts of possession or to prosecute the coffee shops that sell minimal amounts. The laws are still on the books. Portugal has not made it legal to smoke but has decriminalized it. These offenses are administrative and penalties are civil sanctions like fines and community service
Both marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke contain carcinogens. Marijuana can be consumed in other ways. A 2006 study by UCLA concludes that heavy marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer. “We found…no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect”, states the study’s lead author. Other studies begin to corroborate this inhibitive effect on tumor growth
Heavy use can be detrimental. Heavy pot users are at high risk for lung and respiratory diseases like bronchitis. Use impairs judgment and reflex time. Driving while high can lead to accidents and death. Choices made under impaired judgment, like unsafe sex, can affect one for a lifetime.
Pot use is found to be higher among offenders than in the typical civilian population. This doesn’t mean that marijuana use is a causative factor to a criminal lifestyle. The factors that lead one to criminal activity might also lead to drug use. Other recreational or medical pot users commit no additional offenses. It is rare to link it to any violent crime, as users typically do not exhibit any signs of aggression.