Marijuana Benefits? Read the fine print of articles reporting on marijuana usage before coming to a conclusion based on an article’s headlines. Case in point is this article that reads New Research Debunks Two Medical Marijuana Myths. Until you read what the myths are, you are left with the impression that medical marijuana is either working very well or not working at all. Truth is that the report shows a mixed bag at best.
Take the first myth:
Legalizing marijuana will prompt teens to increase usage. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that almost 40% of 12th Graders have used marijuana in the past year. This same study finds that this year, daily marijuana use exceeds daily cigarette use among 8th (0.8 vs. 0.6 percent), 10th (2.9 vs. 2.2 percent) and 12th (5.9 vs. 4.2 percent) graders.
Marijuana is a dangerous illicit drug. We hardly think the fact that 40% of high school seniors has not increased to more than 40% is hardly good news. This does not support an argument that medical marijuana is somehow benign. It does support the fact that marijuana use among teenagers is dangerously high.
And, yes, marijuana can be addictive. Someone who regularly uses marijuana may continue to use it despite negative consequences in their life. Approximately 10 percent of users may develop what is called a marijuana use disorder—problems with their health, school, friendships, family or other conflicts in their life. A serious substance use disorder is commonly called an addiction. The person can’t stop using marijuana even though it gets in the way of daily life. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.
Take the second myth:
Legalizing marijuana will reduce the number of adults overdosing on opioids. The report states that “the researchers found little to suggest that increased access to medical marijuana as an alternative way to manage chronic pain has led to any measurable drop in deaths from opioid abuse.” Well, here is another bust in the argument for medical marijuana. Many legal marijuana supporters recommend the expansion of access to medical cannabis as a policy to reduce opioid overdose risks in the United States and Canada. This report shows no such linkage.
And one more word of advice from the report. “And while not every marijuana user experiences harms, using marijuana does have some risks, including withdrawal, addiction and increased chances of vehicle crashes,” We have written a previous blog post on the increased occurrence of vehicle crashes when drivers are under the influence of marijuana.