Marijuana is not harmless

Opinions_marijuanaDebunking the myths around pot

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor

I believe that marijuana is significantly less harmful than most drugs out there are. It is especially less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes, both substances that kill thousands each year, yet are still legal.

Despite marijuana’s relative safe use—particularly in moderation—it is not a harmless drug. It does not have the same physiological effects that other substances do, as it is impossible to die of a weed overdose, and it does not have the physical effects that cause addiction. However, it does have many unpleasant side effects, both short and long-term.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of pot is the fact that it’s (usually) a form of smoking. While it does not contain the many, many harmful chemicals that cigarettes do, pulling smoke into one’s lungs is still not a healthy thing to do. Over time, it can and does cause breathing problems, damage to the lungs, and can trigger effects to those who already have respiratory problems such as asthma.

While marijuana is not physically addictive, dependency and psychological addictions are very real. Many can get addicted to the feeling of being high all the time. People with addictive personalities are particularly likely to get hooked on pot.

Marijuana can be, and frequently is, used for medicinal purposes. Although I’d bet most of the “medical marijuana” dispensary customers are not solely using the product for health reasons, weed can genuinely treat many conditions. On the other side, marijuana is seen by some as a miracle drug and proper substitute for actual medication. For example, it may behave as a painkiller and aid the side effects of chemotherapy, but it is not an alternative for the actual cancer-fighting drugs, nor the chemo itself.

On a recreational and medicinal level, the social stigma has clouded knowledge on weed’s side effects. It remains illegal and a social taboo, leading to a lack of education. Facts matter in determining weed’s effect on society, and restricting access to information helps no one. Many studies on pot’s long-term effects on the body and in its potential medicinal uses have been deterred due to the drug’s social and legal standing. The fact that marijuana’s full side-effects are not yet fully known should be a cause for concern on their own.

As Canada prepares for legalization, it is vital that accurate information on marijuana is available. There are many ways to invoke harm reduction and to use pot responsibly. This involves not only signage and Health Canada recommendations where weed is sold, but education in schools as well. Frankly, I would support this for all types of drugs, including alcohol. The amount of misinformation and abuse that comes from people simply not knowing the effects of what’s going into their bodies is truly frightening.

If one is going to use marijuana, one should know the true side-effects. Whether you’re pro- or anti-pot, understanding what the drug actually does is essential before we make any other judgments on it.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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