January 1st marked a big change for citizens of the Golden State. Now, licensed businesses across California can begin legally growing and selling marijuana for recreational use (as opposed to the medical stipulations that were previously in place). While weed supporters have clearly been excited about the switch, there are some hidden dangers that need to be addressed.
For one thing, there has never been conclusive evidence that marijuana is not addictive. We have certainly seen it put it to use as a gateway drug and it is often teenagers’ first introduction into the world of substances. Common side effects also include symptoms like lethargy and paranoia; and within the “party lifestyle,” it works as a common accompaniment to alcohol.
Our purpose is simply to inform and prepare anyone excited about these new laws. Easy access to a substance like pot may have more consequences than the average Angelino may realize. The L.A. Sheriffs, for example, are already putting their teams on high alert as businesses begin selling weed in mass quantities.
There have already been warnings about the potential increase in criminal activity as newer dispensaries open. Per L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell, robberies may become more common and lots of additional minors could be put in harm’s way.
“Please do not continue to say that marijuana is a totally harmless herb that God put on this Earth,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “The public’s perception is that weed is innocuous, that this is something they did 40 years ago and it is no big deal. Well, today’s marijuana is not yesterday’s marijuana. The active ingredient, THC, is so much higher today than back 40 years ago.”
Indeed, the potency of the new legalized drug is something lawmakers and police officials are concerned about. Though overdosing isn’t necessarily a risk, the level of impairment caused by the stronger batches (particularly among youths) could lead to addictive behavior, serious car accidents and possible ER visits.
To combat misuse of the drug, California officers are already enforcing heavy fines for smoking in public and the same DUI regulations that apply to drinking and driving. So just because it’s legal, don’t think that abusing pot won’t have serious repercussions on your everyday life.
“A marijuana conviction or even just an arrest can really prevent people from receiving employment or public housing or access to federal student loans,” attorney Jolene Forman told the Mother Jones website.
So acknowledge and accept California’s new marijuana stance, but be wary of the issues that come along with it.