With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, use of this drug has been on the rise both in these states and also in the other 48 where it is still illegal. There are certainly health benefits to be derived from marijuana use, particularly for those who are terminally ill, but this does not mean that recreational use of it is risk-free. There are, in fact, a number of documented ways in which marijuana is detrimental to your health.
Although proponent will hotly deny this, marijuana does bring with it the risk of dependency. Researchers estimate the 9% of users will become addicted; this number increases to 17% for those who started using in their teens and 25-50% for those who smoke it daily.
Many studies have confirmed that marijuana can cause mental impairment and affect functions such as memory, judgment and decision-making skills; it can also slow neurological development in young adults whose brains have still not reach full maturity.
Again, many proponents of marijuana use refute the fact that marijuana is a gateway drug, but several academic studies have proven otherwise. This means that marijuana users make themselves more susceptible to the use of other, sometimes more serious drugs like heroine or cocaine.
Marijuana use can exacerbate emotional and mental problems like anxiety, depression and even more serious disorders like schizophrenia. It has also been shown to hasten the onset of psychotic episodes and also cause other emotional issues like paranoia.
A recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania found a link between marijuana usage and interrupted sleep patterns, particularly for those who began their usage when they were still teenagers. Marijuana users are more likely to experience insomnia and also to have resulting daytime grogginess.
Lack of Motivation
There are also definite links between the use of marijuana and detrimental effects in performance at school and work. More research needs to be done on this particular area, however, as researchers contend that there are many other factors involved here, including the overall environment.
Although there is still no link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer, usage can worsen other respiratory illnesses and is linked to problems with bronchitis, chronic cough and inflammation of airways. There is also an increased risk for respiratory infections with marijuana usage.
In conclusion, even though it has been legalized in some states and approved in others for medicinal purposes under controlled circumstances, this does not mean that marijuana is safe for recreational or long-term use. It’s effects on the emotional, neurological and respiratory health alone should be enough to make people pause and consider the long-term consequences of usage.
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