There is no doubt that marijuana is much more widely accepted now than it used to be. Just a handful of years ago, it was classified as a dangerous hallucinogen and lumped into the “illegal drug” category. But times have changed and, in California at least, legalization is well in effect. But, according to at least one scientist, serious dangers are still related to cannabis and they should still be addressed.
Dr. Christian Hopfer works in the psychiatry department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. His team has been conducting a series of tests to see just how harmful marijuana may be. Truth be told, Dr. Hopfer’s research is quite extensive and has over $5.5. million in funding. Part of the data comes from measuring twins (5,000 sets to be exact) and the impact users have versus non-users.
“This legalization move is really all just a giant experiment,” Dr. Hopfer told TheFix.com. “There is no question that legalization has a normalizing effect on something that used to be against the law. By age 21, 98% of the population has had a drink. But only 10% of the population has tried cocaine, and 50% [have] tried marijuana. And if you smoke a couple times a day, marijuana will knock off your memory. That is pretty certain.”
And though many have argued that cannabis is not addictive, Dr. Hopfer begs to differ. His research has shown that at least three million Americans have what is classified as “marijuana use disorder.” There are also signals that point to weed being a gateway drug (which means it can lead to harmful, more addictive substances) and posing a serious risk to teens.
“If you start smoking pot as a teenager, you have a four times higher likelihood of getting addicted,” Dr. Hopfer added. “The brain of a teenager is more sensitive to the effects than the brain of an adult would be. [Marijuana] is likely to have a more detrimental effect on kids.”
The final point that Dr. Hopfer emphasized following is the danger associated with using and driving. We all know that ingesting weed inebriates people, which poses a serious risk if they choose to get behind the wheel. In Colorado, marijuana-involved traffic fatalities have doubled since the state’s legalization efforts.
So while we won’t try and dispute the medicinal benefits that many believe are helpful, we do want to expose the dangers. Legal or not, make sure to keep the marijuana habits of you or your loved ones in check. And if you do sense a problem, please reach out for help.