By no means do I mean to elevate the public's cry for Mary Jane with Will Ferrell's plea for help from Chuck Norris. Who is Mary Jane, you ask? Cannabis, pot, weed, smoke.
A Facebook flare this week started with a post claiming that there are NO deaths from marijuana use as compared to deaths from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. The discussion turned to legalizing the growing, selling, and use of marijuana. Those who advocate the legalization of marijuana use think that the country should tap into that walloping source of income; fewer people would die because there would no longer be turf wars between dope peddlars staking out territory for their now illegal sales. Besides, it's a natural substance. These same arguments can be made for cocaine.
No one wanted to discuss the researched side effects of the use of marijuana. By doing an internet search on the terms, "side effects of marijuana", I found several interesting articles, some by people who describe how difficult it was to quit using the drug. Can you say "addictive"? The National Institutes of Health (http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/marijuana.html) lists side effects of marijuana use as "distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and
problem solving, and problems with learning and memory", as well as the depression of natural immunological functions. These effects can last for days or weeks. Having problems with basic algebra? Try putting down the joint. Someone who smokes marijuana everyday may function at a "suboptimal" intellectual level all of the time. Constant users also have a 25-50 per cent chance of becoming addicted to the drug.
Marijuana increases the heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this
effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana
users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour
after smoking the drug. The smoke from marijuana has 50-70 per cent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Respondents on that previously mentioned Facebook flare stated that they just "refused" to believe that marijuana smoke was more harmful than cigarette smoke.
I started college in 1968 when pot was the drug of choice for most people. The drug was everywhere on campus. I know what it smells like, so if you have been smoking cannabis, I can smell it on you. I've been around people who searched their coat pockets to find a marijuana seed to eat, just as a person described in an internet article how they constantly searched their bedroom, their couch, their car to find just a scrap of the herb that might be left over.
Although anxiety is listed as a side effect of the drug, I found an article on the internet which advocated using marijuana as an antidote for anxiety and stress problems. This article also stated that there was "little to no risk" involved in using marijuana which is helpful in giving a person a different perspective so that they will be better able to solve their problems. Cigarette smoke is a stimulant, but smokers desire to smoke to calm down. It's the addiction that makes smokers nervous when they don't smoke and drives them to get a hit of nicotine. When the addiction is satisfied, they feel calmer. So it is with marijuana: the habitual user is anxious without the drug and feels less stressed when using it.
Yes, I've been around many of those people who are medicating so that they can better solve their problems. Their vacant stares and inability to focus precede their concerns about their failing grades. Those people I knew in college who were picking seeds out of their pockets? They didn't graduate. They were absorbed into the pot culture, constantly seeking the drug, talking about the drug, smoking the drug. Their lives were completely taken up with the pointy leaf.
Other than the physical problems people experience from marijuana use, one ex-user on the internet pointed to the nearly $20,000 they had spent on pot--the same amount as a down payment on a home or the price of a new car. The irony of this situation is that the people whose perceptions and whose thinking and problem-solving ability have been altered by the use of marijuana are the people who most strongly champion the legalizing of the drug.