Marijuana, derived from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant, is the most used illicit drug in the United States. It can be vaporized, brewed into tea, cooked into food, made into oils or tinctures, or smoked in a cigarette, cigar, bong, or pipe. When used, the tetrahydrocannabinol enters the bloodstream and overactivates parts of the brain. Marijuana has a host of short- and long-term effects, including impaired learning, memory, coordination, and decision-making as well as addiction, poor educational outcomes, and chronic psychosis disorders.
Key Facts about Marijuana
- Potency has skyrocketed. In the 1990s, THC content in marijuana was about 3.74%. Now, marijuana can contain more than 80% THC.
- It is not approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration.
- According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, suicide, addiction, and impairments in learning, memory, and attention.
- CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is extracted and used in Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug that has been proven to reduce seizures, has undergone extensive research, and which doctors can prescribe to patients.
- You can overdose on marijuana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The symptoms include confusion, paranoia, anxiety, panic, fast heart rate, delusions, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, severe nausea, and vomiting.
- Marijuana is addictive, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Is Marijuana Medicine?
Our belief is that marijuana should be subject to the same research, consideration, and study as any other potential medicine, under the standards of the FDA. Legalizing marijuana for medical use should be decided by the doctors and researchers at the FDA who are determined to find solutions for patients rather than by businesses and lobbyists who are looking to profit off it.
Neither the FDA nor the American Medical Association endorses using marijuana as though it were medicine. Instead of seeking FDA approval, medical marijuana’s backers have circumvented the systems intended to protect patients and sought voter and legislator workarounds. This has created a catch-22 system of medicine where patients play the roles normally played by expert doctors, pharmacists, and regulators and where doses are inconsistent in form and strength.
The Dangers of Marijuana
Legalization and marketing have drastically changed youth perception of and exposure to marijuana. More than ever, young people are exposed to marijuana through dispensaries, advertisements, and public discourse. States that decriminalized marijuana saw three times as many poison center calls for accidental marijuana ingestion by young people, according to the American College of Pediatricians. The national Monitoring the Future Survey found that the percentage of young people who view smoking marijuana as harmful has fallen from 51.7% to 26.7% from 2008 to 2018, despite the fact that regular marijuana use is associated with numerous negative effects.
While advocates of legal marijuana are quick to point out that no one has died from overdosing on marijuana, it’s a lie to say no one has died because of marijuana. Legalization has increase instances of drugged driving, making roads more dangerous. Traffic incidents have increased in states that legalized marijuana, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. And the percentage of fatal traffic crashes where drivers tested positive for drugs increased more than 50% between 2006 and 2016, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Of those who test positive for drugs, the largest share of them tests positive for marijuana at 38%.
Children and pets are especially vulnerable to marijuana poisoning. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found that unintentional marijuana exposure resulted in almost double the amount of marijuana-related visits to a local children’s hospital, and a 34% increase in poison center cases each year. Similarly, the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care published a research study that found a fourfold increase in dogs being poisoned with marijuana and attributed the ingestion of marijuana edibles to two dogs’ deaths.
Everyone Has a Role in Prevention. Find Yours. Join Prevention Action Alliance.
At Prevention Action Alliance, we are dedicated to leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. We’re building a world where every community has access to high-quality prevention resources and where all know their role in prevention.
To build that world, we need your help. Everyone has a role in prevention. It takes a community to create safe and healthy environments for our children, and we’d like to invite you to join the Prevention Action Alliance, whether you’re a:
- A parent looking for tips to raise your children in the know about substance misuse,
- A community leader looking to create or join an anti-drug coalition,
- A college- or university-based health and wellness professional looking to improve the lives of your students,
- A family grieving the loss of a loved one to an overdose,
- An adult ally who empowers young people to lead their peers in prevention,
- A youth leader in prevention creating a better school and better community,
- An advocate wanting to create a better world for all,
- Or a volunteer or donor wanting to support the initiatives of Prevention Action Alliance.
Whoever you are, we invite you to find your role in prevention.
If you’re concerned about you or someone else, get help at findtreatment.gov.