No more guesswork – the United States government has taken a laissez-faire approach to dealing with the issue of legalizing marijuana. Though it is illegal to use the drug for any purpose federally, state after state has legalized use of the drug for medicinal purposes and Washington State has decriminalized it while Colorado went so far as to legalize it recreationally. Many other states are filing the paperwork to do the same. While President Obama is focusing on other issues at the moment, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, didn’t mince words when writing for the New England Journal of Medicine.
Volkow pointed out that the evidence shows that 9 percent of people who try marijuana will ultimately develop an addiction to the drug. She noted too that that number rises to 17 percent when one looks only at the under-18 age group.
Said Dr. Volkow: “This is something that a lot of people who are pro-marijuana deny. The evidence shows otherwise.”
The Definition of Addiction
Whether or not someone begins taking a substance under a doctor’s order, there is a possibility of developing a dependence if it is a drug that creates a tolerance in the user. Marijuana is one of those substances, and the fact that it can be psychologically addictive as well due to its triggering of the pleasure/reward system in the brain adds up to the fact that it is an addictive drug by definition.
Says Dr. Volkow: “By making marijuana legal, you have more widespread use and many more health implications. We don’t need a third legal drug. We already have enough problems with the two we have.
Doesn’t Legality Bring More Safety and Regulation With It?
Not when it comes to marijuana. In the states where the drug is legalized for medicinal use, there is little in the way of regulation of the growing process. Independent growers grow the plants and each of them has differing levels of THC content – the active ingredient in the drug that creates the “high.” Each plant is different, so there is no standardization of potency; every patient will experience something different when he or she uses the drug.
Also, when marijuana is “prescribed,” the patient is given a card that makes it legal for them to purchase and possess the drug in the amounts dictated by their state. There are no personal guidelines for dosage – how much, how often, how best to ingest the drug. The patient is left to experiment with smoking a wide range of types of marijuana or eating marijuana-laced edibles to determine what works for him and then forced to do it all over again as the inventory at his local “dispensary” changes.
When Marijuana Becomes the Problem
Even if marijuana is initially prescribed to treat symptoms of a troublesome disorder, it can quickly become the primary problem. Learn more about treating addiction as well as co-occurring disorders when you contact us at Alta Mira today.