Part of the reason why we actually know comparatively little about the short and long term effects of marijuana use is that for so long the drug was a tightly-controlled substance. That means access to marijuana was extremely limited, even for researchers. As a result, there has not been nearly as much research into the drug as many people would like, especially as it is becoming more and more common. Over 15 million Americans smoke marijuana on a monthly basis, if not more frequently, so it seems a matter of common sense and public health to look closer at the drug.
Marijuana Use & Dependency
Evidence on marijuana’s health effects is hazy at best. Fortunately, one of the side effects of the relaxation of marijuana laws is that more and more scientists are able to easily obtain the drug for use in clinical trials. New ground is already being broken as a result, with some of the conclusions more than a little alarming. According to recent research, as many as 11% of those people who smoke marijuana have become dependent on the drug, several million Americans, at a minimum.
What’s more, for those individuals who have become dependent on marijuana, kicking the habit can be harder than it sounds. Even when undergoing psychological treatment to help with their addiction, for some 30% of patients this form of treatment alone will fail to work and they will return to regular marijuana use. Despite what the proponents of marijuana legalization claim about the drug’s safety, these numbers alone imply we might not know enough about marijuana health effects to make an informed decision.
Marijuana Is Less Harmful than Cigarettes
Admittedly, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the dependency one forms with marijuana is not harmful in the long term as other forms of addiction. This is not to say that it is harmless, though—most users smoke the drug, and while marijuana smoke seems to be less harmful than cigarettes, any doctor will tell you that inhaling smoke is bad, period. We agree with the countless health care professionals who think marijuana needs to be further researched before drawing any conclusions. And for those who are dependent on the substance, we offer the most nuanced, state-of-the-art treatment plans to help you take your life back.