While states across the country are de-criminalizing the use and possession of marijuana, instating regulations that allow for the legal sale and private use of the schedule 1 substance, it is still federally illegal – and for good reason. While widespread legalization may make it appear that the regular use of marijuana for recreational purposes is fine, the truth is this drug has major physical, psychological, social and ethical consequences.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 30 percent of marijuana users may develop some degree of problem use, which can lead to dependence and in severe cases takes the form of full-blown addiction. Most users move on from marijuana and use other drugs, as it’s always been considered a high-risk gateway substance especially since the effects of cannabis are stimulated by combining it with other drugs. Research suggests that people who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to develop problem use.
- You Do Withdrawal from Weed
Contrary to popular folklore, you do detox and experience withdrawal symptoms from using marijuana regularly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who are chronic users experience irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, and craving once cessation begins. Withdrawal symptoms are both physical and psychological, which may prompt relapse in order to “feel normal again”. Withdrawal symptoms are generally mild and peak a few days after use has stopped. They gradually disappear within about 2 weeks. While these symptoms do not pose an immediate threat to health, they can make it hard for someone to stop using the drug. In addition, THC remain in the body for several weeks or months after the last use for heavy users, and may be present in the blood stream up to 7 days after stopping.
Many studies have found significant correlations to recreational cannabis use and permanent regressive brain development. A study from Northwestern University found that heavy users who began in adolescence had the potential do develop structural abnormalities in certain brain areas. Another study in New Zealand found that continued marijuana use starting in adolescence was associated with an average loss of 8 IQ points measured in mid-adulthood. Additional concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of addiction and schizophrenia in young people.
- Drive “Weed High” and Die, or Get a DUI
THC, the main psychoactive chemical in weed, significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination and reaction time. A study conducted by the Road Safety Observatory found that there is a significant relationship between a person’s blood THC concentration and impaired driving. Their findings concluded that marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood stream of drivers who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, including fatal ones. In regards to a DUI, some states do offer testing to understand the levels of THC found in the blood stream, but many consider any amount to be “under the influence” and therefore qualify as a DUI. Remember that THC can be detected in the blood system up to 7 days after use for “regular users” and up to 3 months in hair follicles. This means that a blood test several days after your last high, as a regular user, will reveal illegal amounts of THC in your blood stream and land you with a DUI.
- Unpredictable Potency and Reactions
Recreational and illegal cannabis contain significant levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive chemical found in weed that gives people their “high”. It is believed that “typical” percentages of THC found in modern day weed is between .3 and 4 percent. However, some specially grown plants can contain as much as 25 percent THC! This chemical compound is associated with feelings of euphoria, but in high doses, can also cause adverse effects. Since the effects of marijuana depend primarily on the dose and the user’s experience, it’s difficult or impossible to know exactly how someone will react to using the drug. Some users experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. This may cause an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity.
For more information on marijuana addiction and to find answers on getting help for you or a loved one, call our team of advisors 561-325-6686.