Marijuana, the Misunderstood Drug

Is It Really Bad For You?

By: Chermo Toure

Marijuana is undoubtedly the most popular drug in the United States. (Credit: Detroit Free Press)

Marijuana, weed, cannabis, chronic, buzz, lah, reefer, “Mary Jane,” or as some doctors call it, “the miracle drug,” is undoubtedly the most popular drug in the United States and arguably the most used drug in the world.  

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug used for medical or recreational purposes that comes from the cannabis plant.

There are many chemicals within marijuana, but the most active chemical during a “high” is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

The psychoactive nature of marijuana, called the “high,” occurs when an individual inhales marijuana smoke or ingests the drug. After inhalation or ingestion, the THC and other chemicals enter the bloodstream and head to the brain, working their magic to cause the “high.”

If you are in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use, you may want to know some safe ways to consume it.

The most popular way to consume the drug is to smoke it. However, smoking marijuana can cause lung irritation. Many consider vaporizing, or “vaping,”  to be a safer alternative.

Another way to consume marijuana is to eat it. Eating edibles can make the “high” last longer. Edibles are becoming more prevalent but also have a downside.

The “high” from edibles takes longer to come by. For people concerned about their weight, they may want to watch their calorie consumption.

In early American history, marijuana was completely legal along with other drugs that are now illegal today.

During the Jim Crow era, the United States began to discourage marijuana, as the drug was mostly used by black people and Mexicans.

White southerners feared if black people and Mexicans smoked marijuana, they would commit vicious crimes.

These “crimes” caused southern states and even northern states to pass laws banning the drug. The federal government soon followed, banning marijuana use nationwide.

Apart from the Jim Crow era, there is another reason why marijuana is illegal in the United States: the drug could hurt the productivity of many pharmaceutical and for-profit companies.

These companies can’t patent marijuana because anybody can grow the cannabis plant.

For-profit prison companies make money by having inmates work in their jails. The government pays for inmate labor; the more prisoners working, the more money the prison gets from the government.

Since the beginning of the “war on drugs,” prisons have made a huge profit from jailing people for marijuana use.

According to OpenSecrets, the pharmaceutical and prison industry have contributed a combined $397 million to politicians’ campaigns from 1990 to 2018.

And in return for their contributions, politicians make policies that favor these companies, such as keeping marijuana illegal.

When the Nixon administration kicked-off the “war on drugs,” they claimed it was a war against illegal drugs that were harmful to the public.

John Ehrlichman, one of Richard Nixon’s top advisors, actually said that the “war on drugs” was intended to target minorities and leftists against the Vietnam War, as they were known for using marijuana.

Determining if marijuana is safe or not is difficult because the government is strict about cannabis research. Marijuana is placed on the first schedule of the Control Substance Act.

In a study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, it was found that marijuana can help relieve chronic pain that affects 25 million adults in the United States and is one of the leading causes of disability.  

In a review published by the Clinical Psychology Review, marijuana was found to help with alcoholism and other drug addiction. However, this may lead someone to develop an addiction to the drug if he or she becomes too dependent on it.

The Clinical Psychology Review also revealed that marijuana can relieve symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many studies also show that marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells and alleviate the symptoms of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and Alzheimer’s.

Another factor that separates marijuana from other drugs is that it is impossible to overdose on. With all the pros that come with using marijuana, we can see why some doctors call it the “miracle drug.” However, just like every drug, marijuana does have its cons.

Marijuana can be linked to poor brain development and short-term memory loss. Regular marijuana smoking has been proven to lead to chronic coughing, however it has not been proven to worsen lung function or increase the risk of asthma.

Furthermore, marijuana kills little to no people every year. Meanwhile, alcohol is the main cause of 88,000 deaths every year. Maybe we should consider listing alcohol as a schedule one drug.

It is obvious to see that marijuana is one of the safest drugs to use, yet the federal government continues to treat it as one of the most dangerous drugs out there.

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