Marijuana is certainly one of the most controversial and highly misunderstood drug (in many countries) or plant (everywhere because it is so!) or medicine (only in some countries) in the world. It is made from dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant.
After years of being out of the spotlight (legally), marijuana is back in the headlines – thanks to the recent legalization spree that it has been on. There are powerful lobbies who are both for and against it; so, what is it in marijuana that makes it such a contentious issue worldwide.
1. Love it or hate it but you just cannot ignore it – Lets rewind a few years back when it was illegal in many countries (it is still though), marijuana was still the most sought after illegal drug then because of the popular belief that it is harmless and relaxes you like nothing else does. Let’s corroborate the above statement with a few recent stats. In the United States, a whopping 100 million people have tried it at least once, and 162 million adults use it at least once per year worldwide.
One of the most amazing facts is that nearly 40% of high school students in America have used marijuana at least once, and around 6000 Americans try it for the first time every day. Well, these facts certainly show that among the drugs marijuana is by far the most popular, compared to the other illegal drugs.
2. You can go high, high, and high but not any higher – Marijuana helps you feel relaxed, makes you feel happy, and gives you a feeling of excitement. In short, it takes you high but not too high for it to become lethal.
According to few reports, an overdose of marijuana can happen when one takes nearly 800 joints or higher in a short time (virtually impossible) for it to be fatal. The cause of death after overdose would not entirely be the drug itself, but it would be carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Gateway drug or an exit drug – The jury is still out on this. The people against marijuana strongly pitch for it to be a gateway drug i.e. it could open ways for marijuana users to try harder drugs (there is no specific finding to support this claim);
whereas the people for it saying that it is an exit drug i.e. marijuana users do not fall prey to the harder drugs.
You could see the logic in both the arguments; as long as marijuana is illegal, people will come into contact with drug dealers to gain access to it and this would leave the doors open to other harder drugs. On the other side, if it is available easily then the person will not go in search of it and happen to find other dangerous drugs as well.
4. Yippee….it is legal – In some countries, marijuana has been made legal because of medical and recreational purposes whereas some permit regulated usage of it like a limited quantity can be grown for personal use, but buying and selling is still illegal.
Many countries like North Korea, Portugal, Spain, U.S (states of Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington), and other countries have lenient laws on marijuana. North Korea is very liberal in this regard. Visitors tell stories (tourism is not really North Korea’s forte) of seeing marijuana plants being grown by the roadside, it is not even considered a drug there.
5. Legal??? Not in our backyard – The picture is not all rosy for marijuana users. Many countries like China, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Philippines have really strict laws in regards to marijuana.
One incident that happened not so long ago will be enough to send shivers down one’s spine if he/she is even remotely thinking of taking marijuana to these countries; a person in Dubai was sentenced to prison for four years for having 0.003 grams of it in a stub stuck on one of his shoes sole, well that is strict to say the least.
6. Cancer killer? – Marijuana is now widely being considered as having positive effects when it comes to cancer treatment. The main active ingredients in marijuana are THC and CBD.
Many studies claim that these cannabinoids have the ability to kill cancer cells and stop metastasis in many kinds of cancer. The article published by California Pacific Medical Centre goes to the extent of saying that this could ‘potentially alter the fatality of the disease forever.’
7. Marijuana leads to brain cell growth or Neurogenesis to put it medically – According to a few recent studies, cannabinoids have the ability to spur neurogenesis in the region of the brain called the adult hippocampus that deals with brain functions including mood.
Hence, marijuana has an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effect on its users thereby giving them an instant mood-boost.
8. It has a not-so-good side to it as well – Despite the recent studies that show marijuana to have positive effects medically and recreationally it does leave a few negative effects on its users as well.
The common findings have been that a regular marijuana user could be forgetful, have concentration difficulties, dizziness, and nausea, loss of balance and over sleeping.
Though none of the above problems are fatal, it would be beneficial if one is a casual marijuana user rather than a regular one.
9. Legalizing marijuana could send the states cash registers ringing – Since the use of marijuana is completely illegal or is highly regulated in many countries, governments spend a fortune to see to it that the laws on marijuana are implemented.
In the United States alone, 40-60 million dollars are spent in law enforcement of marijuana. Legalized marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the United States this year, and the state could rake in 8.7 billion dollars in federal and state tax revenue every year.
10. Marijuana could possibly put a dent in the Alcohol industry – Reports suggest that there could be a 5% reduction in beer sales in the united states that have recently legalized Marijuana. Marijuana is being seen as a substitute to the recreational and mood enhancing alcohol.
The higher drinking age has certainly spurred the use of Marijuana among young users. Though the alcohol industry has nothing to be afraid of now, but you never know in the longer run, marijuana might get closer to alcohol than it is now.