We at TestCountry have been discussing about marijuana and its different facets for years, and it has always been a controversial topic. The legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states may have made marijuana users rejoice, but it remains to be an endless debate of whether the substance should be allowed or not due to the unfavorable effects that it may cause upon long-time users. In this article, we will delve into the benefits and disadvantage of recreational marijuana use.
Marijuana is widely used, especially among the teens and young adults. There are now about 20 million users aged 20 and older using marijuana, with some engaged in recreational marijuana use.
Marijuana is sold in the form of dried leaves, which can be smoked. The popularity of using electronic cigarettes or vapes heightened when cannabis liquids became available. Not all states have legalized recreational marijuana, therefore using vapes infused with cannabis has become an alternative way of using marijuana without being noticed by authorities.
Brief History of Marijuana in the US
The hemp plant was used as a legal tender in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia in 1619. The Virginia Assembly passed a legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp.
There was a proliferation of hemp production after the Civil War. By the end of the 19th Century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in creating medicinal products which were sold in public pharmacies.
In 1906, The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed and became the basis for regulating misbranded foods, drugs, liquors, and medicines.
The Mexican immigrants introduced the recreational use of marijuana to the American culture in 1910. Marijuana has become mostly associated with Mexican immigrants, which has also become synonymous with fear and prejudice. There were anti-drug campaigns to hopefully prevent the spreading of marijuana as terrible crimes have also become associated with its use by the Mexicans.
In 1931, marijuana use had been outlawed by 29 states. By 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was created. The first commissioner was Harry J. Anslinger who remained in the post until 1962.
The Uniform State Act of 1932 was created to encourage state governments to take responsibility in controlling crimes related to marijuana use.
Importation of hemp during the World War II declined. The US Department of Agriculture launched a program called “Hemp for Victory” which encouraged farmers to plant hemp and granted deferments to those who would stay at home and grow the plant. There were about 375,000 acres of hemp harvested in 1943.
1951 initiated stricter sentencing laws by setting mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses.
The 1960s had become a very significant period as it was the time when there was a widespread use of marijuana among white upper and middle-class citizens. By 1968, the FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration merged.
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana as distinct from other narcotics, thus eliminated mandatory federal sentences to those in possession for small amounts.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was established in 1973. A nationwide movement composed of conservative parents insisted for a stricter regulation of marijuana as well as the prevention of drug use among teenagers in 1976. Consequently, this has become instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the War on Drugs in the 1980s.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1985 in response to the increasing number of crimes related to drug use. This raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing. Eventually, an amendment was created requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders and providing the death penalty to “drug kingpins”.
1996 was the start of legalizing medical use of marijuana in California under Proposition 215.
Statistics on Marijuana Use
Marijuana or cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance. Recent surveys showed that there are about 94 million people in the United States alone that have admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
Marijuana is widely used because of how some individuals use it as their means of escape from the realities of life with the hope of masking pain, anger, fear or regret. It is the most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car accidents.
From a survey made by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2007, 2.1 million Americans have used marijuana for the first time. There has also been an increase in marijuana production since 1981. Approximately $10.5 billion has been spent by marijuana users in purchasing this illicit substance.
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According to a report by Arcview Market Research, North American marijuana sales increased by more than 30% in 2016, raising sales to $6.7B. It is also predicted to greatly increase in the coming years.
A very astonishing fact from legal sales of recreational marijuana use in Colorado reached almost $1 billion in 2015. It cannot be denied how the legalization of marijuana created some benefits, namely, jobs and an increase in tax revenues.
Accordingly, the public remains divided regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. And more than seeing the good that it can allegedly provide is knowing that there are possible unfavorable outcomes with both short-term and long-term use of marijuana.
Notwithstanding the risks accompanied with its long-term use, the number of people using marijuana for recreational purposes is believed to have been increasing each year.
Advantages of Using Recreational Marijuana
Undoubtedly, using marijuana can offer some positive effects in the body. Although recreational use was not the main reason for making it legal, a large number of people use marijuana (as a recreational drug) as their outlet. Unfortunately, these users are branded as hippies or stoners.
Here are some benefits of recreational marijuana use:
- Smoking has become a means of bonding among friends that it makes them less inhibited in letting out their feelings. Therefore, they are able to speak their minds freely from which deep conversations among friends make them allow them to grow closer.
- Using marijuana heightens the senses. Somehow the taste of food becomes more appetizing.
- It unlocks one’s creativity. Marijuana somehow makes a user feel more energized to become more artistic and creative. This enables them to become highly-artistic rather than experiencing the erratic behavior that others may see from marijuana users.
- Creates divergent thinking. The chemicals that interact with the brain helps in thinking outside of the box.
- The ability to persuade others in perceiving the same thoughts.
- Marijuana can act on your mind in countless positive ways. Moreover, it can bring out the child in you, as claimed by marijuana users. This can be helpful in trying to cope up with the everyday stress.
- It can make you feel like a different person. Some people are naturally shy. But being shy sometimes can be a disadvantage. Using marijuana can somehow help one to become more confident about himself thereby allowing him/her to become more vocal and outgoing.
- It masks out the negativity thereby making one see everything in a different (and more positive) perspective.
- A feel-good emotion is likely to strike after using marijuana, thus one tends to appreciate the beauty of the world that surrounds him/her.
- Marijuana can make you feel more energized.
- It takes you to a different dimension wherein you can feel happy and stress-free; thus you have time to be in harmony with yourself.
Disadvantages of Using Recreational Marijuana
The global dilemma on drug abuse is far from over. Knowing how much it can affect both the mind and the body, these are the reasons why using it should be prevented or stopped:
- It has a direct effect on one’s memory. The active ingredient that affects the hippocampus alters the processing of information. The use of marijuana at a young age has a great impact on the developing brain. Nonetheless, this obstruction in the formation of memory can significantly cause cognitive impairment. It also accelerates age-related brain cell loss. Studies have found that there is a deterioration in the learning and cognitive thinking that can persist into adulthood, even if they have long stopped using marijuana.
- It can heighten fear, anxiety, panic or distrust. This is the most common side effect of using marijuana. The chemicals in cannabis make an individual have hallucinations and so with this, it affects their relationships with others.
- THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of the marijuana’s psychological effects. This disrupts with balance, coordination and reaction time of the user, thereby making it harder for the user to walk and talk correctly (normally). This also impairs the individual’s ability to drive.
- Frequent marijuana use can increase the risk of succumbing to a depressive condition. This is more likely to happen to individuals who have a history of mental illness.
- Psychosis is also likely to develop in individuals taking large doses of the drug which includes delusions and a loss of sense of identity.
- Some of the short-term effects of marijuana use include dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and increased heart rate.
- Smoking marijuana can lead to breathing problems such as the development of excess mucous, cough and bronchitis. It can also cause asthma and cystic fibrosis.
- Long-term use of marijuana can decrease the amount of seminal fluid and reduce sperm count. The abnormalities in the sperm are still undetermined, although it is thought to be caused by the THC.
- Marijuana use in females can lead to menstrual flow disruption which can result in irreversible damage to the eggs in the ovaries, thus there is likely an increased risk of miscarriages, placenta previa, and premature births.
Clearly, each state has their own laws pertaining to the manufacture, use, and selling of marijuana. Although marijuana has been approved for both recreational and medical use, still, everyone should be able to assess the benefits and its harmful effects with long-term use. The level of potency of THC has increased over the years, which makes it even more dangerous for individuals to take marijuana, especially in large doses.
Medical marijuana may have been proven to be of significant help in treating various illnesses such as arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. However, it is recommended that those who are undergoing treatments with the use of marijuana should take the precautionary measures as the unscrupulous use of marijuana can deter treatment and would lead to more serious conditions.
Moreover, recreational marijuana use stated in this article is simply to inform and not to encourage or discourage anyone to take the drug. It is highly advisable to consult with your physician before engaging in the use of any type of drugs.