Recreational Marijuana Use: Good or Bad?

In the 2016 local elections, California approved Proposition 64, which legalized the use of cannabis and cannabis-related products in a recreational setting. The reason for this legalization is due to people’s belief that marijuana is merely a harmless plant. This commonplace belief may not be as true as we think. Let’s take a look.

A common belief held by people is that marijuana is not a gateway drug. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, however, among adults 26 or older who used marijuana before age 15, 62% went on to use cocaine at some point in their lives, 9% went on to use heroin at least once, and 54% used illegal prescription drugs.

Marijuana is also the second most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal automobile accidents. This is because usage of marijuana affects normal brain function, and can lead to psychological issues.

The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. For a person who’s new to marijuana use, this may mean exposure to higher THC levels with a greater chance of a harmful reaction. When someone smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs, to the bloodstream, and to the brain. The result impacts brain development in thinking, memory, and learning functions.

A study by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started using marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing use, lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. Though the legal age is 21 for recreational use, legalization causes people younger than 21 to believe it won’t affect them.

Recreational marijuana use has also been linked to mental illnesses such as temporary hallucinations, temporary paranoia, and schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens.

So, based on the evidence, perhaps using marijuana isn’t as harmless as it’s made out to be. So long as people are aware of these side effects, they should be able to make that decision themselves and decide what is best for them.