Today I have a guest post from Anna Deeds. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a recovering addict. She has a website for addicts that offers online counseling, articles and workbooks about addiction and recovery.
Recently, Oregon and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with adults who occasionally use marijuana and it does have medicinal purposes, I think the costs outweigh the benefits. I think the problems that legalizing marijuana can create will outnumber the few people who would use it responsibly.
The problem is that people will abuse it. Just like any substance, there will be people that use it on a daily basis. There will be people who drive while impaired on it. There will be people who lose their jobs because of it. And there will be people who think it’s alright to give marijuana to minors.
Legalization promotes the idea that marijuana is safe and not addictive. Marijuana just like alcohol and cigarettes is harmful to the body. When smoking it, you’re breathing in a substance that is not meant to be in the body. It impairs short term memory, motor coordination, increases heart rate, alters judgment and decision making, and alters mood. (Topics in Brief: Marijuana, 2011) Long term use can lead to addiction, poor school and job performance, respiratory problems, risk of psychosis and cognitive impairment. (Topics in Brief: Marijuana, 2011)
I know a lot of people already think marijuana is harmless. Legalizing it only legitimizes this false idea. However, it is far from harmless. It is addictive. Yes, it’s true that not everyone who uses marijuana will become addicted. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are just as many people who will become addicted to it.
Marijuana is a mood altering drug. People who use it on a regular basis develop a tolerance to it. This means they need more of it to get the same effects. If you use it daily and suddenly stop, you will have withdrawal symptoms similar to quitting smoking. Use of it can have a negative impact on a person’s life. You can be fired from your job, go to jail for driving on it, lose interest in activities, and have health problems and damaged relationships. These are all the signs and symptoms of an addiction.
Legalization will make marijuana more accessible so more people are likely to try it and become addicted. You never know if you are one of the people in life that are prone to becoming addicted until you start using a substance. Legalization means more people out there who will try marijuana just because it’s legal and available.
I know that a lot of people who are pro-legalization believe that it will cut done on the crime associated with it. I think that drug lords will always be drug lords and they will just move their efforts into bringing harder drugs into this country. It’s ridiculous to think they’ll just stop selling drugs. They’ll just switch to cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs.
While I think there are a few people who might not be harmed by its occasional use, I think there are a lot more people who will be harmed by it. Legalizing it only serves to make it more accessible to these people and makes it appear safe and not addictive.