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Rated: 13+ · Editorial · Opinion · #2188810
A editorial examining the known facts of marijuana
Marijuana is a mind-altering drug that millions of Americans consume recreationally and medically, yet is overshadowed by decades of stigma and demonized as a harmful substance. Is it deserving of this reputation?

The DEA has labelled marijuana as a type 1 narcotic,   in the same category as heroin. Type 1 is reserved for the most threatening of drugs, higher than crystal meth or opioids like Vicodin.

Something many think of when the ‘Devil’s Lettuce’ is brought up are the hazardous effects. Pot-smokers are often considered to be violent criminals under the herb’s influence.

Back in the 1930’s a movie titled “Reefer Madness”   played on the public’s fears, showing high school students performing a series of psychotic acts as a result of ingesting the ‘reefer’. Financed by a church group, it was intended to be an educational film about the dangers of marijuana use.

According to researchers,   marijuana can actually reduce feelings of aggression. But what are the other effects of using this substance?

Smoking the herb can irritate lungs and lead to breathing problems,   similar to tobacco products. Despite that, researchers haven't found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke the ‘ganja’.

The effects are most pronounced with those who already possess mental illnesses. Since weed is a mild psychedelic, it can actually worsen   symptoms of schizophrenia: creating temporary hallucinations and paranoia. Perhaps this was the basis for the rumored ‘Reefer Madness’.

But surely there is more to this, can someone overdose on marijuana if they consume enormous quantities?

There is no known case of death from excessive use.   High doses can create heavy anxiety or paranoia; some rare cases might result in an extreme psychotic reaction that may cause the afflicted person to seek medical attention.

These situations usually result in nausea and vomiting, much like drinking too much alcohol. But there is a large difference…

Drinking too much booze can be fatal,   leading to alcohol poisoning and liver disease. Excessive alcohol use is also the third leading preventable cause of death   in the United States and has been linked to violent crime. Alcohol is also more addictive   than marijuana and is known to cause cancer as well as brain damage.

The only major effects   of the ‘Devil’s Lettuce’ are short term memory loss and disrupting brain growth in users under the ages of 18. The former is hardly dangerous and the latter is common sense. Underage drinking causes brain damage as well but is glorified in movies and other media.

Does marijuana really deserve being classified on the same level as heroin? Why is a harmless plant the major focus of law enforcement across the nation? It could be because of President Nixon   declaring war on hippies back in the 60’s.

Regardless of the reason, many Americans agree this stigma is outdated and ill-informed. If it’s acceptable to have several beers after work, why shouldn’t we be able to have a joint as well?
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