Pot: The Pros and Cons of the So-Called “Soft” Drug

Photo: Heath Korvola (Getty Images)

In 2016, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 12.9 percent of North Americans used cannabis, making it the most popular recreational drug. Slowly but surely, as pot becomes legal in state after state, the once-taboo plant and its medicinal benefits are going mainstream. Wondering if weed is right for you? We’ve put together a guide of the pros and cons of marijuana.

Pro: Pot Helps With Pain Management

Medical marijuana can help with pain, according to a number of sources. Certain states are even allowing people to get prescriptions for pot instead of opioids. Because of the current overdose crisis, marijuana could be a safer solution. Many people suffer from chronic pain; if left untreated, it can be pretty problematic. Some patients can’t even work or function, yet too many are unable to access narcotic painkillers because of restrictive laws meant to stop drug abuse. Some people end up killing themselves when the pain proves too much or switch to street drugs like heroin or Fentanyl (the drug that killed Prince). Though no drug is 100 percent safe, smoking a joint may be a healthier alternative.

Pro: Pot Can Curb Drug Cravings

Some people use marijuana to manage hard drug cravings. James (not his real name) is a recovering pill addict who claims that pot really helped him. He’s now working towards a certificate in addiction counseling so he can help other people with similar problems. Some might say people like James are merely replacing one addiction with another. Then again, unlike opioids and benzos, marijuana can’t kill you. That’s certainly a good thing.

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Con: Pot Contributes To Lung Problems

Tobacco isn’t the only thing that can hurt your lungs. Any type of smoking can cause damage. That’s why tobacco-free cigarettes aren’t much safer than regular ones. Even e-cigarettes can be dangerous. The vapor often contains dangerous chemicals and heavy metals. Gross, right? There are some things you really shouldn’t inhale.

Con: Pot Ages Your Brain

According to a recent study, marijuana can age your brain up to three years. That’s a bit unsettling. Unhealthy, too. So-called stoners often have less dopamine, too; that’s why they sometimes lack motivation and ambition. In patients who are already at risk, marijuana may even trigger psychotic episodes. When stoned, people get a bit weird, which resembles psychosis. For all we know, it’s temporary. Other studies indicate that psychosis is less likely in pot users. Scientists still need to do a bit more research.

Positive Pot News: Legal Marijuana Is Helping In The Fight Against Opioid Addiction

Con: Pot Can Be Addictive

Yes, it’s possible. A small percentage of users develop an addiction. Half of them end up getting physical withdrawal symptoms. People who already suffer from depression or anxiety are more likely to develop a problem, as are heavy users and those who started using weed at a young age. Pot isn’t as hardcore as heroin or cocaine but it’s still riskier than other psychedelics.

Should You Try It?

While no drug is truly safe, softer ones have upsides and downsides. The user must make informed choices. Indulging once in a while might be harmless, but know your limits. Don’t take more than one drug at once; the combination could really mess you up or make you sick. Also, if you’re trying a substance for the first time, it’s always a good idea to have someone with you, like a sober friend who can calm you down if a trip goes wrong. Remember: all things in moderation and moderation in all things.