“If marijuana is not legal within the next five years, I have no faith left in humanity, period. Everyone likes smoking weed. They have for thousands of years. They’re not gonna stop anytime soon. It makes everything better. Makes food better. Makes music better. It makes sex feel better, for God’s sakes. It makes shitty movies better, you know?” – Pineapple Express

Within my group of friends, there are two types of people – those who agree that marijuana should be legalised and those who don’t. It’s often a hot topic of conversation and frequently the subject of heated debates in the pub. Let’s then, with a rational, impartial outlook – figure out once and for all if the drug is rightly illegal or not.

Cannabis is known by many names, weed, hash, ganja, dope, kush, grass and green just to mention a few. It comes from the cannabis plant that originated in Central and Southern Asia and evidence of recorded cultivation of marijuana goes back around 7,000 years. The term ‘marijuana’ actually refers to the dried cannabis plant and the part of the plant that gets the user ‘high’ is the chemical THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. For a drug that’s been used since biblical times, it has certainly seen it’s fair share of controversy. Allow us, therefore, to analyse some popular myths.

…for a drug that’s been used since biblical times, it has certainly seen it’s fair share of controversy…

Cannabis is addictive. Not necessarily. The act of smoking itself and the tobacco that can be mixed with cannabis is addictive, yes, but the drug itself has no real addictive qualities. For those who argue that weed isn’t addictive, think again. The same way you can become addicted to eating bars of chocolate or excessive exercising, smoking weed can be addictive too.

You can die smoking weed. Wrong. No one, in the history of medical science, has ever died from smoking too much weed. It’s estimated that around 75 people per year die whilst high on marijuana – but cause of death has never been the weed itself. To put it into perspective, The Telegraph reported in 2008 that around 15,000 people die from alcohol related diseases every year and in the UK alone, it’s estimated that a staggering 100,000 people die each year due to smoking related illnesses. Weed has yet to kill one person.

…smoking weed can be addictive too…

There must be medical implications that coincide from taking the drug however. It’s been proven to contribute to respiratory problems that are generally associated with smoking cigarettes. This isn’t much of a surprise as if you do chose to smoke weed – you are still smoking, even if it isn’t tobacco. Your lungs and throat are still affected. Scientists also argue that prolonged periods of weed smoking can result in lethargy and decreased motivation, as well as having a negative impact on focus and concentration. Not exactly a glistening review.

Another popular opinion deals with the idea that marijuana leads to harder drugs. It’s a valid argument. People rarely start out on hard drugs like heroin or cocaine before they have tried weed. The National Academy of Science however, argued that ‘legal drugs for adults, such as alcohol and tobacco precede the use of any illegal drugs. Tobacco is known as the gateway drug.’  

…it looks as if we’re going to have to ban alcohol and cigarettes too…

Politicians will debate about marijuana for years to come; they’ll battle it out with little or no understanding regarding the implications of smoking the drug. Throughout history, marijuana has drifted in and out of legality – much like alcohol, but before you convince yourself marijuana is the worst thing in the world, just remember it’s medical benefits when it’s used in a more official capacity. It can be used to treat those with AIDs, MS, chronic pains, dementia, epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome. It doesn’t have to be smoked in a joint, pipe, or though a bong, it can be administered via a vaporiser or put into capsules to swallow with water. A medical wonder, some would argue.

In terms of smoking it recreationally, it looks as if we’re going to have to ban alcohol and cigarettes too – with their long lists of medical implications and death rates. Cannabis seems like the friendly cousin of tobacco and alcohol, as opposed to their more dangerous counterpart when you look at all of those statistics. At the end of the day, using cannabis recreationally, drinking lots of alcohol or smoking cigarettes isn’t good for your body in the long run- that’s the long and the short of it. They all have their disadvantages and only time will tell which ones will be survive to be legal in the not so distant future.

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