Apr 5, 2016 5:40 PM

How Safe Is Recreational Marijuana Use?

Cannabis is currently more popular in the United States than any other street drug. According to the national surveys, nearly half of Americans tried marijuana at least once in their lives, and more than six percent of high school students admit using it daily.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. In 2014, the use of the weed for certain medical conditions was made legal in New York State. Overall, either medical or both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in 23 states. Many expect that the trend will continue and spread to the remaining parts of the country.

The road to the success of marijuana legalization was paved mostly by medical marijuana that has established itself as a potent medication. Numerous studies proved cannabis to be effective in treating many ailments, from glaucoma to mental disorders to menstrual cramps. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis consume weed to ease muscle spasms, and those fighting cancer rely on it to control the pain and nausea.

On the wave of legalizing recreational cannabis, it is to be expected that people would wonder whether medical pot is safe to use.

In fact, there are at least ten drugs that are much more dangerous that marijuana, including some legal drugs like alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. According to a recent study that compares lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses, alcohol is the deadliest drug on the list and is about a hundred times more dangerous than marijuana. The study was published in the Scientific Reports. Unlike other psychoactive drugs that are known to cause fatal overdoses, cannabis has never had that kind of effect.

Cannabis poses no risk of addiction and overdose and improves the quality of life and the mood of the consumers. The last point is repeatedly confirmed by those consuming the weed.

Various experiments showed that a lethal dose of weed would have to be 30,000 to 40,000 times larger than the regular dose (as large as 80 pounds). Moreover, no deaths from marijuana overdose were ever recorded.

On the other hand, it is important to note that “safer than alcohol” does not mean “absolutely safe.” Lethality is not the only menace a substance can have. It is also important to consider the effects of the drug on consumers' behavior, effects on society, and other factors in order to make conclusions about the full extent of marijuana's impact.

Although many scientists and cannabis experts agree that medical cannabis is safe enough to alleviate the symptoms of certain conditions, the safety of recreational use is still poorly understood.

Of course, abuse or misuse of marijuana can still lead to adverse effects. Researchers also worry that the use of the drug by teenagers may harm their body and hinder the ongoing maturation of their brain. In addition, due to the new growing techniques, the sativa plants became much more potent. Finally, investigators are still debating how the legalization of recreational cannabis may affect road safety.

There is also a question of possible harmful effects resulting from unregulated and uncontrolled marijuana market. It is unsafe to buy marijuana from unverified vendors (and even in the states where the weed is legal, current laws do not standardize levels of active components or guarantee the quality and safety of the pot products). It is unsafe to drive after or while consuming. It is likely to be unsafe to use it for recreational purposes during pregnancy and lactation. Anyway, it is clear that the society should move toward legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, but we should do it with the appropriate caution.

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