Smoking pot is not as safe as people think

Your love of the halfling’s leaf has clearly slowed your mind.
Your love of the halfling’s leaf has clearly slowed your mind.
Image: New Line Cinema
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Popular sentiment has long maintained that smoking cannabis is a relatively safe activity. Now, a 20-year research study argues the opposite.

Professor Wayne Hall, Director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland and an adviser to the World Health Organization says that the results of his research, published in the Oct. 6 issue of Addiction, conducted over the course of two decades definitively proves that smoking marijuana can be extremely detrimental to your health. “The common view that smoking cannabis is nothing to get worked up about needs to be challenged more effectively,” he said.

According to his research, one in six teenagers who smoke cannabis will become dependent on it. It doubles their risk of developing psychotic disorders and can distrupt normal intellectual development if used regularly. Long-term use also increases the risk of getting cancer and other serious diseases.

% of Americans who smoke pot

Critics might argue that no one ever said smoking cannabis isn’t harmful; it’s just far less harmful than other drugs like alcohol that are legal. Any substance is dangerous when consumed too frequently, and marijuana has proven medicinal purposes.

Professor Hall acknowledged that it’s impossible (or nearly impossible) to fatally overdose on cannabis—which distinguishes it from other drugs like cocaine and heroin—but it can, like those harmful drugs, be addictive and even cause withdrawal syndrome in heavy users.