Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Marijuana ADDICTIVE? No way, man

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 6, 2010 at 11:59 am with 9 Comments »
October 6, 2010 12:30 pm

Posting this antidote to magical thinking to stoke the indignation of the Web’s marijuana fan club. Always entertaining.


About 9% of adults who use marijuana develop an addiction to it. Among people who begin smoking before the age of 18, this number is as high as 17%. Although addiction to marijuana does not cause dramatic physical dependence, it can lead to substantial problems in education, work and relationships. In fact, addiction to marijuana is defined by the inability to stop using despite recognition of harmful consequences. Without harmful consequences, there is no diagnosis of addiction.

The short-term effects of marijuana intoxication are well established. As part of the high produced by marijuana, intoxication impairs memory and learning. Marijuana use also impairs driving, causing a twofold to threefold increase in accidents. Though not as dramatic as the fifteenfold increase in accidents caused by alcohol intoxication, marijuana’s impact on traffic safety does have significance.

The long-term effects of marijuana are not often recognized because they are subtle, but they can have a cumulative impact over time. In people with preexisting vulnerabilities, marijuana use can unmask psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia. Many people with anxiety and depression use marijuana to soothe their symptoms; however, there is evidence that over time it may actually make these problems worse.

Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    Overall, long and short term effects included, I’d like to see alcohol way more restricted and weed a whole lot less restricted, and legalized. Will I use it if legal? Probably not, but just like travel restrictions to Cuba, the laws are totally out of date.

  2. mikemcdonnell says:

    Each year, a staggering 440,000 people die in the US from tobacco use.

    YET WE DON’T OUTLAW TOBACCO … we even subsidize tobacco farmers with our tax dollars.

    Marijuana may block Alzheimer’s

    Marijuana Unlikely to Cause Head, Neck, or Lung Cancer

    Rheumatoid arthritis, cannabis based medicine eases pain and suppresses disease

    Why are governments and religions so bent on telling us how to live our short lives?

    “I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die/so let me live my life the way I want to.” If 6 was 9 – jimi hendrix

  3. Novelist3 says:

    You’re using the fallacy of “one thing is bad, so other thing must be good”. Tobacco being legal doesn’t make pot worthy of being legal- it merely highlights the necessity of a tobacco ban.

  4. notSpicoli says:

    I would consider myself one of the cheerleaders for marijuana reform without considering myself a part of the “marijuana fan club.” And I will I be indignant at realistically looking at the risks and benefits of marijuana legalization and health effects. I am confident that when viewed rationally as a public policy decision, the arguments will lean heavily on the side of ending marijuana prohibition.

    I read the article and there’s not much with which I would argue. There is a small group (up to 9%) who develop a dependency on marijuana which significantly and negatively impacts their life and they find it difficult to stop.

    I think there are health risks associated with smoking marijuana.

    On the other hand, there are people who use it as a medicinal herb and find relief.

    And true, smoking marijuana and driving is not a great idea, but less dangerous than someone driving and being under the legal limit of intoxication.

    But really, these things are beside the point for me. I do not advocate the use of marijuana. But I strongly oppose the government’s policy of marijuana prohibition. As succinctly stated by William F. Buckley, Jr., “Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

    Marijuana simply does not constitute a sufficient public safety risk to warrant the extravagant and ineffective interventions to stop its use, nor is the personal risk beyond that which is tolerable for other substances.

    The article stated, “And if Californians do legalize marijuana, they should insist that revenue from its taxation be applied toward any problems that arise from its increased use.” This provision was included in legalization bill introduced in the last Washington State legislative session.

    Let’s get sensible. Legalize-tax-regulate.

  5. OldLefty says:

    Face the facts that the black marketeers are the ones that will put up the money to keep marijuana illegal. Who stands to lose significant money?

    Back in the 1960s, an Ocean Shores group kept trying to legalize gambling on a local basis. There was plenty of money to campaign against it. People thought it was churches.

    It was Nevada money.

  6. OldLefty, hits it on the head: cui bono? Who benefits?

    Not just the ones making the insane profits from marijuana sales. The police also benefit. And alcohol interests (Witness the unholy alliance of cops and beer distributors in California teeming up to oppose Prop 19).

    Miron and Waldock in the new Cato Institute report on the ecomic costs of marijuana prohibiton suggest the self-interest motivating law enforcement resistance to repeal of marijuana prohibition:

    “About half of the budgetary improvement from legalization is due to reduced criminal justice expenditures. But for this component of the impact to show up in government budgets, policymakers would have to lay off police, prosecutors, prison guards, and the like. Because such a move would be politically painful, it may not occur.”

    Then there are the treatment centers who profit from court mandated treatment for persons charged with marijuana possession.

    And politicians who can engage in demagoguery against marijuana use, turning pot into political hay.

    I’m sure I’m leaving someone out…

  7. Novelist3 says:

    Was wondering when Notspicolli would pop in.

  8. scott0962 says:

    If everyone were allowed to grow marijuana for their own use it would certainly put a dent in the profits of the Mexican drug cartels.

  9. I’m not a member of the “marijuana fan club,” I just think marijuana prohibition is far more harmful than legalization ever could be. 8-9% of the population probably suffers from impulse control/obsessive disorders to one degree or another and will become addicted to anything given the opportunity. It’s not a reflection on the harmfulness of the substance.

    Re: the schizophrenia connection, a very limited correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia has been noted, but schizophrenics often self-medicate with any number of substances so that’s hardly noteworthy. Schizophrenia and first time marijuana use both tend to occur in young adulthood, but this does not mean that one causes the other.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0