The Harmful Effects of Marijuana have been exaggerated

Essay by qwerty9College, Undergraduate April 2004

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Thousands of people die every year from tobacco and smoking related illnesses, and hundreds of innocent people die every year in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers. It's even possible to die from alcohol poisoning, but marijuana has never been directly attributed to any deaths. Despite all this, public opinion on marijuana is still based on myth and prejudice even though it remains relatively harmless. The harmful effects of marijuana have been exaggerated.

In the 1930's the United States was flooded with reports that described marijuana as an extremely dangerous drug that enabled people to accomplish "great feats of strength and endurance, during which no fatigue is felt", and proclaimed that "[Use of marijuana] ends in the destruction of brain tissues and nerve centers" (qtd. In Stroup 57). Early myths such as these have been debunked over the past few decades, and one of the only true negative effects of marijuana is short-term laziness, comparable to the well-known side effect of consuming alcohol: a hangover.

The argument most commonly brought into discussion on marijuana is the addictive properties (or lack thereof) which it possesses. Although marijuana may cause "mild psychological dependence", according to Richard Lowry in his essay, "Marijuana is Relatively Harmless", it offers no long lasting physical addiction like that of nicotine (16). As long as one does not self-medicate their anxieties and depression with it the way so many people do with alcohol no dependence will be encountered. Most often if someone becomes psychologically dependent on marijuana they're most likely to experience only a few years, at most, of moderate to heavy use before somewhat growing out of the drug and discontinuing use altogether.

There is scientific evidence to support the addiction theory of marijuana when speculation and opinion aren't enough. In 1991 a study found that marijuana...