The following is written by Dan Tarlin of .
Dan Tarlin is a clinical social worker and Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor at Westwood Lodge Hospital, where he directs the Partial Hospital Programs for children, adolescents, and adults. He has been working in the field for over twenty years and is a charter member of OASIS.
OASIS (Organizing Against Substances In Stoughton) partners with a diverse group of people and agencies that offer various support for: families, education in schools, policy development and after-school programs.
Marijuana Series Part 1 – Is Marijuana Dangerous?
Marijuana is the most commonly-used illegal drug in the US, used by over 25 million Americans in the past year according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
While most teenagers do not smoke, marijuana use among teens has been rising for the past four years, according to www.monitoringthefuture.org.
In the 2011 survey, 6.6% of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use. Among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, 25% have used at least once in the past year.
Of course, recent successful efforts to decriminalize marijuana are most likely driving this increase, as legal sanctions for use are less serious than they used to be.
We hear a great deal of information from “pro-hemp” forces that marijuana is not harmful and should not be grouped with other illegal, and more dangerous, drugs. I’d like to go over some of the arguments they make:
- Pot is totally natural; it’s a plant: So is tobacco. So are many varieties of poisonous and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Poison hemlock is a plant, and is fatal to humans. Lots of things in our environment are natural but still harmful or deadly.
- Weed isn’t nearly as harmful as alcohol, which is legal: It’s true that alcohol in large quantities is more harmful and kills more people. One way to put it is to say that marijuana harms fewer people than alcohol does, but more than tofu does. It isn’t health food.
- Marijuana is not addictive: It’s true that marijuana is not physically addictive like heroin. Cocaine isn’t technically physically addictive either, but nobody would seriously say it’s not dangerous. Some people can find pot psychologically addictive. If you find yourself thinking about the drug when you’re not using, or find that you need it to calm down or to feel “normal”, then you’re addicted.
- Marijuana has been proven effective for managing pain and glaucoma: There have been no controlled studies to prove that marijuana is more effective than conventional drugs. Medical science does not consider any smoked medicine to be appropriate- dosage can not be controlled, and the method of smoking damages lungs and other organs just like cigarettes do.
- Pot is just recreational and doesn’t lead to other drugs: It’s true that many people use marijuana and never graduate to hard drugs. It’s also true that virtually everyone on hard drugs started with marijuana. It’s not a “gateway” for everyone, but it certainly increases your risk.
So do you (or someone you know) have a problem? How can you tell? Keep checking this space for more information.
Part 2 will deal with the following topic: “How Do I Know if I Have a Marijuana Problem?”