In spite of recent increases in the use and abuse of prescription drugs, alcohol, heroin, and other street drugs, marijuana is still the number one most frequently abused drug in the U.S. Marijuana use has grown in prevalence to the degree that more high school students now smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes. While marijuana might not be a life-threatening substance like other illegal and legal drugs are, it does have its own, inherent risks and negative characteristics.
Marijuana is directly connected to money and life problems. A study done by HealthDay News found that middle-aged adults who smoked marijuana found themselves with lower paying, less skilled, and less prestigious career paths. Such individuals were also found to have more problems with money and with work and personal relationships than their non-marijuana smoking peers.
Studies go on to show a direct relationship between marijuana consumption and antisocial behaviors at work and domestic abuse at home. One expert at the University of California even went so far as to insist that the economic and social problems that are experienced in regular and persistent cannabis use are due to the cannabis use, and not to some other cause.
While the study is met with agreement by most, marijuana proponents insist that the study is not complete because it only proves that marijuana use is associated with these problems, not that it causes them. However, the relationship is as obvious as can be. People who consume cannabis are more likely to have relationship problems, to have career problems, and do not succeed in life on an order of magnitude that they might have hoped for prior.
A more thorough study of marijuana’s correlation to productivity and quality of life was done in New Zealand. The study started in 1972 and continued for forty years. The study included 1,000 children born in 1972. The study collected information on individuals in that study group who had had at least three to five marijuana assessments through the ages of eighteen and thirty-eight.
In this study group, it was found that eighteen percent of marijuana users were classified as marijuana-dependent, and fifteen percent were regular marijuana smokers with questionable levels of dependence. For those categories of heavy use and heavy dependence on the drug, the individuals in these categories were almost always suffering from money problems and relationship problems. This study was published in the Clinical Psychological Science publication in March of 2016.
Proponents of cannabis legalization argue that there is no proof that marijuana causes life problems, only that it is present in people with life problems. Even if marijuana is not causing the problems, it is certainly not helping people get through those life problems and onto the other side of them.
Paul Armentano, a critic to the New Zealand study mentioned above, insisted that those facing social and economic adversity are more likely than those who do not face these struggles to turn to the use of legal and illegal intoxicants as coping mechanisms. This is the argument that tries to disprove any evidence that marijuana is harmful. It is an embodiment of the concept of what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the life problems cause the marijuana abuse or did the marijuana abuse cause the life problems?
We can be sure of one thing, and that is that Paul Armentano is incorrect in stating that people are more likely to abuse legal and illegal drugs because of economic displacement. This may have been true at one point, but it is no longer the case if it ever truly was.
Today, at least ten percent of medical doctors abuse prescription drugs while the national average is only six percent. The majority of people who are addicted to drugs also have a productive and middle class to upper-middle-class income range. Today, white middle-class families are the ones who are most likely to have heroin problems. The argument that people abuse drugs because of economic displacement is no longer valid.
Marijuana might have some, limited medical uses. For someone suffering from long-term pain such as a cancer patient would have, it is certainly a better solution than doping them up on highly addictive pharmaceutical pain reliever drugs. However, for recreational use alone marijuana has more negative traits than positive ones by far.
A major concern with marijuana that is not often touched on is the gateway nature of the substance. Marijuana use incentivizes the use and abuse of other, stronger, more addictive, more dangerous substances, creating risk and a difficult situation for all who experiment with the substance. It would be much better if people were able to stay away from marijuana abuse, and if people were able to instead pursue other, healthier, non-addictive means of coping with the difficulties of life.