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Spradling 1/6 Paul D. Spradling Prof.

Parker Phillips ENC 1101 27 July 2012 Informative Essay Final Draft Marijuana is not addictive and is less harmful than alcohol. This viewpoint, common to many teenagers nowadays, has led to an increase in cannabis consumption and more importantly an increase in the percentage of daily users (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. September 2010.) The problem is that this viewpoint is not entirely correct. While it is true that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and not physically additive, it can be psychologically addictive, and the strength of this latter addiction can be much stronger than one usually imagines. The harmlessness of cannabis is also mostly misunderstood; while casual use is relatively harmless, sustained chronic use can lead to many problems, especially in teenagers (Swift, Copeland & Lenton. 2000. p103-7). After many years of repression and (ongoing) prohibition, marijuana has made a comeback. Recent scientific studies, but more importantly the availability and accessibility to these and opinion based on these with new mediums such as the Internet, has debunked previous paradigms and created a new perspective on this substance. Teenagers coming to age in this era realize marijuana is not as bad as they were taught or as previously thought. There is a growing acceptance and therefore a growing tendency to use it. Among marijuana users we identify the chronic/daily/heavy users as people who consume it on a regular basis (most days, everyday, and many times even multiple times a

Spradling 2/6 day or all day long/constantly). With the increase in general marijuana consumption there has obviously been an increase in daily users too. Recent research gives us a clearer picture of this; the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Nov. 26, 2004) reports: Among young adults aged 18 to 25, approximately 4.3 percent reported daily marijuana use compared with about 1.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 and 0.8 percent of adults aged 26 or older. Males were almost 3 times more likely to report daily marijuana use compared with females (2.0 vs. 0.7 percent). In 2003, more than 25 million persons (10.6 percent) aged 12 or older reported past year use of marijuana. An estimated 3.1 million persons (1.3 percent of the population and 12.2 percent of past year marijuana users) were daily marijuana users (i.e., they used marijuana on 300 or more days in the past 12 months). According to National Survey on Drug Use and Healths (2010) report: In 2010, an estimated 15.7 percent of past year marijuana users aged 12 or older used marijuana on 300 or more days within the past 12 months. This translates into 4.6 million persons using marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis over a 12-month period. In 2010, an estimated 39.9 percent (6.9 million) of current marijuana users aged 12 or older used marijuana on 20 or more days in the past month. This represents an increase from the 2009 estimates of 36.7 percent or 6.1 million users. Sullum (May 2, 2012) also found: Monitoring the Future Study put "heavy" use at 7 percent of all high school students last year, who are more likely to smoke pot than younger students are. The war on drugs has created a polarization of opinions on the subject: the old antimarijuana, prohibitionist opinion, and the new scientifically backed pro-marijuana opinion. The problem with this is that marijuana is not really as harmless as the pro-marijuana opinions make it out to be; they are mostly correct in their opinions (far more correct than the anti-marijuana opinions), but the war, polarization and discussion on this topic has destroyed the middle ground. Teenagers are not realizing that marijuana is not completely

Spradling 3/6 harmless. The medicinal issue has also fueled this problem, placing the view of marijuana as something beneficial to ones health. There is a common and grave misconception towards the medicinal issue. It is true and scientifically backed that cannabis has great medicinal uses, and for these people who need it its use can be very beneficial. In these cases marijuana helps patience function better. What people dont realize is that marijuana is not always beneficial; in some cases (for example chronic use in teenagers) it can actually impede the users general function instead of improve it. Daily and sustained use is the most problematic. Swift, Copeland & Lenton (2000, p103) report: The most probable adverse health effects of acute use are generally selflimiting and do not persist beyond intoxication. On the other hand the most probable effects of regular (daily or near daily), sustained use (over several years) are: dependence, cognitive impairment, emotional development issues and adverse respiratory effects. It is especially dangerous in adolescence. Swift, Copeland & Lenton (2000, p107) report: A major focus of concern is cannabis use in adolescence, a time of rapid development and transitions in life roles. While most adolescent use remains experimental, early onset and adolescent cannabis use have been related to a number of negative outcomes such as poor mental health, drug use and abuse, delinquent behavior and criminality and poor educational achievement. I used to be a daily marijuana user myself, and sometimes I still am, but as I continue to see the negative consequences I continue to reduce my use. For over 4 years I consumed marijuana almost every single day and from the morning or noon hours to the late night (what people call a wake and bake stoner). I stopped the waking and baking many years ago, but I continued to smoke it at least once before the end of the day. This has improved my performance in many areas notably, but smoking everyday at lease once it is still not

Spradling 4/6 the best, at least for me. Currently I have what I call short seasons, I smoke one, two or three days during the night time, and then stop for one, two or three days. Again I have noted an incredible improvement. I began smoking everyday because I thought it was harmless and not addictive, many of my friends and people I interviewed expressed the same thoughts. The truth is casual use is relatively harmless, but daily use is not. The other great misconception is towards the addiction potential. Sure marijuana is not physically addictive, but try getting used to doing something everyday for 5 years, building your friends, habits and actions around it, and then trying to stop. I can tell you it is not easy, especially when you still like it and enjoy it and still believe it is not so harmful. It is true marijuana is not physically addictive, one can stop using it and suffer no consequences, no abstinence, and no grave urges to consume it (unlike nicotine), but still it is not easy to stop it, the psychological addiction can be much stronger than you can imagine or originally imagine. Again many of my friends and people I interviewed agreed, they do not feel a physical addiction, but they have a strong psychological addiction and have great problems trying to control it. One of the participants warns, do not underestimate psychological addiction, it can turn out to be very strong, habits are hard to change, especially if you start at a young age, and even more so if your friends still do it. My participants agreed daily use can become a habit, and therefore an addiction, they agree not to underestimate the psychological addiction. Cannabis use is more common than ever before, especially among teens. Daily use is also more common and may cause developmental problems in adolescence. When cannabis impedes in your functioning, it is a problem. When used for medicinal purposes cannabis

Spradling 5/6 helps patience function better. That is a fundamental difference. The war on drugs must end and the middle point must be established, we must educate with the truth; marijuana is a safe drug, which should be legalized, but it is not completely harmless and can be addictive. If a change in our laws does not occur we risk damaging our children and creating a great public health issue in the future.

Spradling 6/6 Works Cited

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. NSDUH Series H-41, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4658. September 2011. Sullum, Jacob. Teen Pot Smoking 'Surges' While Staying the Same. Reason Magazine. May 2, 2012. Swift, Wendy; Copeland, Jan; Lenton, Simon. Cannabis and harm reduction. Drug and Alcohol Review, Vol 19(1). March 2000. p100-110.