How safe is Marijuana?

November 3, 2011

Political Theory


Allow me to preface this blog post with a few things. This is not a blog that addresses whether or not marijuana should be legalized. My intent is not to spark that debate because it is trite and I no longer care. Instead, I wish to examine a significant and dangerous side effect of the use of marijuana.

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine and he shared with me a devastating account of a friend of his. He told me his friend, who had smoked marijuana before, took two hits of marijuana one night and ended up in the hospital with marijuana-induced psychosis. Now I’ve heard stories in the past where individuals perhaps got a little too high and started freaking out, but I had never heard of someone being hospitalized due to the effects of marijuana.

Now up until hearing this story I always thought marijuana was harmless. Many of my friends smoked and I witnessed them first hand under the effects. At the same time, I completely understood some peoples’ moral objections to it. I mean, it’s a drug – plain and simple. I always thought people opposed it because it was a drug, not because of the negative effects of it. This story has forced me to take a step back and wonder if marijuana truly is all that safe. All my opinions of its safety were solely on my personal experiences and what I believe to be a liberal media portrayal of it. After my friend told me this story (and by the way, my friend’s friend who this happened to is fine now) he said the doctor told the kid that this happens to fifteen percent of people one time or another while smoking marijuana. Now whether that was just the doctor trying to scare people from smoking, I don’t know, but a doctor said it and that number is sort of startling to me.

I came across an article on-line about this topic and it was even more startling. It said “A recent study from Denmark showed that of those who exhibited signs of marijuana induced psychosis, over 40% presented the symptoms of schizophrenia 1 year after the occurrence.” The entire article can be found here.

Now once again, this blog isn’t meant to address the issue of legality, rather safety. If you think it’s not safe, is it still ok to be used? Alcohol for example is clearly not safe, yet people drink all the time. Maybe I’m just being paranoid and marijuana is completely safe to use. However, perhaps it’s not.

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3 Comments on “How safe is Marijuana?”

  1. abswang Says:

    I used to be extremely against smoking marijuana. It shocked me in high school that people would not only smoke, but do it on a regular basis. However, once I came to college, I became desensitized to it and am now not fazed when someone pulls some out of their pocket. While the article brings up a valid point, and this specific situation is shocking to have such a drastic result from an accepted action in college, I still don’t find marijuana to be dangerous. There are harmful aspects of it, along with alcohol, but in college, there seem to be no rules or judgment when it comes to having fun. I think that with the government legalizing marijuana, they would’ve done extensive research to make sure the drug has no way of harming citizens if used correctly. Of course there are chances that one can hurt themselves, with marijuana or alcohol, but I personally believe that’s due to the stupidity of the user, not the actual substance. There are benefits of both marijuana and alcohol to one’s health, but most people don’t use them for that purpose. Obviously I would never hand a blunt or a fifth to a child and tell them to have fun. Honestly, some college students shouldn’t even have access to these things, but when we go away to college, we transition into becoming real adults. Anything can be dangerous if you abuse it. Marijuana just happens to be one of the more frequently abused activities in college, giving it a dangerous appeal, which in turn attracts more teenagers testing it out.

  2. clinthng Says:

    I always thought that if I was going to do drugs, it would be marijuana. I relied on the fact that it was the least detrimental to your health, and I was always curious about getting high. However, I always turned down the chance to in high school because I was irrationally scared by the fact that something could go seriously wrong.

    I don’t think you’re being paranoid at all. I think it has to do with Murphy’s law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If I ever do smoke marijuana, I’ll probably go in thinking “man, I’m going to be part of the 15% who gets marijuana induced psychosis” but when I don’t, I’ll go back for more.

    Safety has never been an issue when it comes to things like drugs and alcohol. Yes, we know the destructive qualities of alcohol to our liver, but we do it anyway because it makes us feel good. I think humans as a whole seek immediate pleasure, and that immediacy prevents us from longing at things long term. As long as we’re not immediately harmed by it, why not continue to do it?

  3. blakesimons Says:

    This blog post brings up an interesting point for discussion on the safety of marijuana. You are completely right that the debate over the legality of marijuana is drawn out and overplayed. It is far too often that people debate over the legality of the drug; however, the true safety of usage of marijuana is not commonly discussed. Many people, college students in particular, are led to believe that there are really no significant health problems involved with marijuana. I, too, have never seemed to think that there are significant health issues revolving around marijuana usage, especially compared to alcohol consumption. With this said, it would be interesting to dig deeper into your claim that marijuana-induced psychosis “happens to fifteen percent of people one time or another while smoking marijuana”.
    First, it is necessary to judge the validity of this claim. Personally, I have had no experience of being educated about such a condition, which would be especially surprising to me personally if it is as common as you stated. Moreover, even if this claim is true, would it really stop people from smoking marijuana? I would be led to believe that even if this outcome of marijuana was true and publicized, the amount of marijuana users would remain constant. Since most users of the drug can judge their own personal reactions, they would know on an individual basis whether or not marijuana would have such a negative impact on them.
    Overall, the safety of marijuana use remains a mystery to most young adults and the public at large. While the debate over legality of the drug is not discussed in this post, the legality is closely related to the safety, so both conversations are closely interlocked. In my opinion, I will judge the safety of marijuana from my own observations, and since I have never heard of people going under such a condition, it is hard for me to take seriously.

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