Pros And Cons Of Using Recreational Marijuana

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Published on Dec 18th, 2017

Pros And Cons Of Using Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana use has always been a controversial topic.

Marijuana legalization in some U.S. states may have made marijuana users rejoice, but it remains to be an endless debate of whether the substance should be allowed or not due to the unfavorable effects that it may cause upon long-time users.

Marijuana is widely used, especially among the teens and young adults. There are now about 20 million users aged 20 and older using marijuana for recreational and medical reasons.

Marijuana is sold in the form of dried leaves, which can be smoked. The popularity of using electronic cigarettes or vapes heightened when cannabis liquids became available. Only some states have legalized recreational marijuana, which is why vapes infused with cannabis have become a popular and discreet alternative to smoking the drug.

Brief History of Marijuana in the U.S.

The hemp plant was used as a legal tender in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia in 1619. The Virginia Assembly passed a legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp.

There was a proliferation of hemp production after the Civil War. By the end of the 19th Century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in creating medicinal products which were sold in public pharmacies.

1906 Pure Food and Drug Act

In 1906, The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed and became the basis for regulating misbranded foods, drugs, liquors, and medicines.

The Mexican immigrants introduced the recreational use of marijuana to the American culture in 1910. Marijuana has become associated with Mexican immigrants, which has also become synonymous with fear and prejudice. There were anti-drug campaigns to hopefully prevent the spreading of marijuana as terrible crimes have also become associated with its use by the Mexicans.

Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs

In 1931, marijuana use had been outlawed by 29 states. By 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was created. The first commissioner was Harry J. Anslinger who remained in the post until 1962.

The Uniform State Act of 1932 was created to encourage state governments to take responsibility for controlling crimes related to marijuana use.

Importation of hemp during the World War II declined. The US Department of Agriculture launched a program called “Hemp for Victory” which encouraged farmers to plant hemp and granted deferments to those who would stay at home and grow the plant. There were about 375,000 acres of hemp harvested in 1943.

1951 initiated stricter sentencing laws by setting mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses.

Federal Definition of Marijuana

The 1960s had become a very significant period as it was the time when there was a widespread use of marijuana among white upper and middle-class citizens. By 1968, the FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration merged.

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana as distinct from other narcotics, thus eliminating mandatory federal sentences to those in possession for small amounts.

When Was The DEA Created?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was established in 1973. A nationwide movement composed of conservative parents insisted on a stricter regulation of marijuana as well as the prevention of teen drug use in 1976. Consequently, this has become instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the War on Drugs in the 1980s.

What is "The War On Drugs"?

President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1985 in response to the increasing number of crimes related to drug use. This raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing. Eventually, an amendment was created requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders and providing the death penalty to “drug kingpins”.

1996 was the start of legalizing medical use of marijuana in California under Proposition 215.

Statistics on Marijuana Use

Marijuana or cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance. Recent surveys showed that there are about 94 million people in the United States alone that have admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lifetime.

Marijuana is widely used because of how some individuals use it as their means of escape from the realities of life with the hope of masking pain, anger, fear or regret. It is the most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car accidents.

From a survey made by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2007, 2.1 million Americans have used marijuana for the first time. There has also been an increase in marijuana production since 1981. Approximately $10.5 billion has been spent by marijuana users in purchasing this illicit substance.

Prevalence of Marijuana Use in 8th Graders to 12th Graders

Grade Level Lifetime Past Year Past Month Daily 8th Grade 12.8% 9.4% 5.4% 0.70% 10th Grade 29.7% 23.9% 14.0% 2.5% 12th Grade 44.5% 35.5% 12.5% 6.0%

According to a report by ArcView Market Research, North American marijuana sales increased by more than 30% in 2016, raising sales to $6.7B. It is also predicted to greatly increase in the coming years.

A very astonishing fact from legal sales of recreational marijuana use in Colorado reached almost $1 billion in 2015. It cannot be denied how the legalization of marijuana created some benefits, namely, jobs and an increase in tax revenues.

Accordingly, the public remains divided regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. And more than seeing the good that it can allegedly provide is knowing that there are possible unfavorable outcomes with both short-term and long-term use of marijuana.

Notwithstanding the risks accompanied by its long-term use, the number of people using marijuana for recreational purposes is believed to have been increasing each year.

Advantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

Using marijuana can offer some positive effects on the body. Although recreational use was not the main reason for making it legal, a large number of people use marijuana (as a recreational drug) as their outlet. Unfortunately, these users are branded as hippies or stoners.

Some benefits of recreational marijuana use:

  • Smoking has become a means of bonding among friends since marijuana tends to loosen inhibitions. Cannabis can help people speak their minds and exchange ideas freely, allowing them to grow closer to peers.

Marijuana heightens the senses, reportedly enhancing the taste of food and the sound of music.

Cannabis unlocks one’s creativity. Some strains can make users feel more energized, artistic, and creative. Cannabinoids that interact with the brain promotes thinking outside of the box.

Marijuana use gives people the perception of being able to persuade others to believe their train of thought. Conversely, marijuana makes users more receptive to new information.

Maturity can subside on marijuana, as it can bring out the child in users. This lightheartedness can be helpful when trying to cope up with everyday stress.

  • It can make you feel like a different person. Some people are naturally shy which can be a social disadvantage. Using marijuana may help one become more confident, vocal and outgoing.
  • Cannabis temporarily masks negativity and helps users see life from a different (and more positive) perspective.
  • A dopamine release can create "feel-good" or "high" sensations immediately after using marijuana, allowing one to appreciate the beauty of the world.
  • Marijuana can make you feel more energized, happy and stress-free, thereby encouraging harmony

Disadvantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

The global dilemma on drug abuse is far from over. Knowing how much it can affect both the mind and the body, these are the reasons why nonmedical cannabis use should be prevented:

  • Marijuana directly affects short-term memory. Active ingredients in the drug alter the processing of information through the hippocampus. The use of marijuana at a young age has a great impact on the developing brain, which is why teens must avoid marijuana. The obstruction in memory formation can cause significant cognitive impairment. Marijuana accelerates age-related brain cell loss. Studies have found that there is a deterioration in the learning and cognitive thinking that can persist into adulthood, even if they have long stopped using marijuana.
  • Marijuana heightens fear, anxiety, panic and/or distrust. This is the most common immediate side effect of using marijuana. Chemicals in cannabis can spur hallucinations, affecting relationships with others.
  • THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological and physical effects:
  • Impaired Balance
  • Poor Coordination
  • Slowed Reaction Time
  • Inability to Walk, Talk, or Drive
  • Frequent marijuana use increases the risk of depression and anxiety, especially in users with a family history of mental illness.
  • Psychosis, which includes delusions and a loss of identity, may develop in individuals taking large doses of the drug.

Side Effects of Marijuana Use

The effects of marijuana use are usually felt immediately upon smoking or vaping the drug. Consuming marijuana via edibles or pills demands a longer wait time before side effects are experienced.

  • Short-term effects of marijuana use include:
  • Dry Mouth
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Slurred Speech
  • Increased Heart Rate

These symptoms appear to be harmless, but long-term use of the drug can result in much more serious health conditions:

  • Smoking marijuana can lead to breathing problems:
  • Excess Mucous
  • Chronic Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Long-term use of marijuana can also impair fertility in males and females:
  • Reduces Sperm Count
  • Creates Abnormalities in Sperm (still being researched)
  • Disrupts Menstrual Flow
  • Damages Eggs in Ovaries
  • Increases Risk of Miscarriages and Placenta Previa

Possibility of Premature Births/Stillborns

Medical Uses for Marijuana

Medical marijuana is proven to be of significant help in treating various illnesses:

  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Those undergoing marijuana therapy should take precautionary measures as the haphazard use of the drug can lead to more serious conditions.

Clearly, each state has their own laws pertaining to the manufacture, use, and selling of marijuana. Although marijuana has been approved for both recreational and medical use, still, everyone should be able to assess the benefits and its harmful effects with long-term use. The level of potency of THC has increased over the years, which makes it even more dangerous for individuals to take marijuana, especially in large doses.

Moreover, recreational marijuana use stated in this article is simply to inform and not to encourage or discourage anyone to take the drug. It is highly advisable to consult with your physician before engaging in the use of any type of drugs.

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