Can You Safely Use Recreational Marijuana?
Recreational marijuana is now legal for adults in Washington and Colorado. The citizens of those states spoke and voted for legalization. The votes signify shifting attitudes across the country. Many people do not believe that marijuana should be kept illegal. Proponents of legal marijuana say that it is less risky than cigarettes or alcohol and that the tax revenue can help state and local governments.
Does this mean that you can use marijuana safely?
Short-Term Effects Of Marijuana
Before you decide whether or not you can safely use recreational marijuana, you should know the facts. When you smoke pot or consume the cannabis plant you are taking in a psychoactive compound called THC. This is the substance that is largely responsible for the high that accompanies pot smoking. THC acts on certain receptors in the brain to produce a number of effects: giddiness, lightheadedness, relaxation, introspection, a desire to eat, but also paranoia, irritability and disturbing thoughts.
Using marijuana also results in an impairment of certain abilities. Your memory gets worse, as does your ability to focus and concentrate. It blunts your motor skills and your ability to operate machinery effectively. Driving a car is extremely dangerous when under the influence of marijuana.
Long-Term Effects Of Marijuana
The long-term impact of smoking pot is still being researched, but there is plenty of evidence that it can have some seriously negative effects. Most problematic is the impact on young people. If you start using marijuana as a teen you are at a much greater risk of getting addicted. You also face the risk of permanently damaging cognitive functions. Regular users who began smoking as teens see a drop of as much as eight IQ points into adulthood.
Even casual users of marijuana experience permanent changes in the brain. These include changes to the parts of the brain that govern motivation, addiction and emotion. And of course, there are health problems associated with smoking, which include respiratory illnesses and potentially the development of lung cancer with frequent and regular use.
Marijuana Is Addictive
Proponents of marijuana use will argue that the drug is not addictive, but research says otherwise. It is less addictive than nicotine, alcohol and heroin, but it is habit forming. In fact, nine percent of people who ever use the drug will become dependent on it. The risk is especially high for young people. For users who first started smoking as a teen, there is a much greater chance of getting hooked than for an adult using the drug for the first time.
Adults using pot run the risk of becoming addicted too. The greatest risk comes with using it regularly and frequently. Unlike harder drugs, addiction to pot is not sudden. It comes on more slowly, but can be just as devastating. 18 percent of people seeking drug addiction treatment in the U.S. are addicted to marijuana. Withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to quit include insomnia, cravings, anxiety and irritability.
If you have been wondering about recreational marijuana and whether it can truly be safe for a responsible adult, make sure you get all the facts. No drug is ever safe. Marijuana may carry fewer risks than heroin or cocaine, but it can alter your brain, dull your motor skills, impair your memory, lead you to have an accident, lead to respiratory problems and cause you to become an addict. Are these risks worth the high? That is for you to decide.