Is marijuana bad or good for your health?
via AP

Is marijuana bad or good for your health?

#PotIsGood
#PotIsBad
Join the conversation and vote below

Marijuana has been demonized over the years to make it seem worse than it really is. The consensus these days is that marijuana is one of the safest recreational drugs. But safe doesn't necessarily mean it's good for you. While marijuana has a lot of upsides when used in moderation—it can still be addictive and harmful to someone's life. What do you think? 🌲🔥💨

THE VOTES ARE IN!
#PotIsGood
85.6%
#PotIsBad
14.4%

Marijuana is harmless compared to the vast majority of recreational drugs—including alcohol. Some studies have found that people who suffer from chronic pain gave up opioid painkillers for marijuana because it has fewer side effects.

Marijuana research is still in its infancy but it's clear that the plant is not the horrible drug it was once made out to be. NPR's Code Switch describes an account of marijuana in the Los Angeles Times from 1905 where it says:

"People who smoke marihuana finally lose their mind and never recover it, but their brains dry up and they die, most of times suddenly."

While we need more research to determine if marijuana is generally good for someone's health, we definitely know it's nowhere near the level of bad it was once made out to be. 

German Lopez at Vox breaks out the fact-based benefits of marijuana here:

Overall, the report suggests that, as far as therapeutic benefits go, marijuana is a solid treatment for multiple symptoms associated to chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis. Everything else, from epilepsy to HIV/AIDS, needs more research before pot is more definitively shown to be effective or ineffective.

The data we have on marijuana use identifies a few clear downsides to marijuana. Vox dove into a wide-ranging review which looked at more than 10,000 studies to see what the data actually shows.

German Lopez at Vox breaks out the harms most strongly supported by the evidence here:

For long-term marijuana smokers, there’s a risk of worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes. For pregnant women who smoke pot, there’s a risk of lower birth weight for the baby. For marijuana users in general, there’s a greater risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses. And there’s a link between marijuana use and increased risk of car crashes.

At the end of the day, marijuana is still a drug. While it may be safer than heroin or methamphetamine, that's a low bar. The effects of drug use are measured beyond just what it might do to a person's body. Drugs are banned not only because they're potentially fatal but because of all the social ills brought with it. One study found that smoking marijuana is linked to economic and social problems.

Here's how Douglas Main at Newsweek sums it up:

People in the study who smoked regularly, defined as at least four times per week over the course of several years, had significantly more economic problems, such as high levels of debt, poorer credit ratings, limits on cash flow and even difficulty paying for food and rent, says study author Magdalena Cerdá, a researcher at the University of California, Davis.
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