Marijuana is the most commonly used recreational drug in the United States. As of 2012, over 29 million Americans admit to regularly using marijuana. More than 98 million Americans age 14 and older have admitted to using marijuana at least once.
The possession, use, or sale of marijuana became illegal in many countries in the early 20th century. At that time, many of them began to enact laws against the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana. Countries began to arrest and prosecute people for using marijuana while other countries have either reduced enforcement of marijuana laws or have legalized the use of marijuana completely. In the United States, there are at least thirteen states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use and have set-up regulatory systems to oversee its safe sale and access to medical marijuana patients.
The degree to which marijuana is addictive continues to be the subject of great debate. Opponents to legalization of marijuana believe that marijuana is both psychologically and physically addictive. They argue that long-term use of marijuana and its immediate cessation can cause moderate to severe irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, and anxiety. Moreover, symptoms can begin within about a day following abstinence, and last for about a week to ten days.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana use claim that marijuana is no more addictive then a cup of coffee. Still other proponents believe that marijuana has little if any addictive properties even in cases involving long-term use of marijuana.
While critics of marijuana use claim that marijuana has been associated with health hazards like lung and throat cancer, proponents of marijuana use point to medical studies that show that medical marijuana has been successful in treating the symptoms of glaucoma, migraines, arthritis and HIV/AIDS.
Notwithstanding, both the critics and proponents of marijuana seem to agree that people with addictive personalities can develop an obsessive attraction to the drug, which is neither healthy nor desired. However, what must be considered is that addictive personalities can get addicted to almost anything they consume and enjoy. In this regard, we can say that obsessive and addictive personalities share a predisposition to marijuana addiction. However, this does not mean, that marijuana is addictive to the general population and the medical research seems to be bearing this out.
So what does the medical community have to say about marijuana? You might be surprised to learn that most current medical research has been supportive of the use of marijuana in treating many types of terminal illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease. With respect addiction, medical studies have not substantiated any inherent addictive features attributable to the normal use of marijuana.
Marijuana use will continue to be a source of controversy in the years to come. What we do know today is that marijuana is neither toxic nor lethal, nor does it pose any greater risks then either tobacco, caffeine or alcohol.
Finally, many are asking whether the benefits of marijuana substantially outweigh it’s potential for addiction. More and more states are answering this question in the affirmative.