It’s the weekend you and your friends have been waiting for. After a week of brutal readings, exams, and papers assigned from professors who forget students aren’t robots, you and your friends have decided it's time for a “chill” session. Pizza boxes on the ground and the television show Living Single playing in the background, you all agree it’s perfect time to smoke some weed. Using a lighter, you bring the blunt to your mouth, close your eyes, and inhale the smoke without the slightest thought of what negative effects could arise from using this drug. Already legal in several states across the United States and currently a hot-topic for legalization nationwide, if cannabis is being endorsed by the government then it should be safe to use, right?
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a type of psychoactive drug that has THC as its main ingredient. Used by an estimated 183 million people around the world, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug by individuals ages 15-64 in the United States (Freeman et al., 2018). The popularity of using this drug could be correlated with the widely shared misconception that cannabis is harmless and only produces the side effect of a mild euphoria. This permissive attitude that has driven many lawmakers and supporters to endorse its legalization.
Before we all jump on the bandwagon of making cannabis legal everywhere, we must first take a step back and address the big elephant in the room - it’s harmful effects. A recent study conducted in the Netherlands examined the association between THC concentration and first-time admissions to cannabis-related drug treatments (Freeman et al., 2018). Results were collected using a 16-year-old monitoring program that collected concentration levels of THC in legal retail products, as well as information from patients in rehabilitation centers. Researchers found that concentrations of THC were associated with first-time drug treatment admissions. Over the years, as the potency of THC increased in products, the number of individuals entering drug treatment for cannabis-related problems increased as well.
With a rapidly changing cannabis climate, it is essential that policy makers consider the effects of cannabis potency. Findings from this experiment, illustrate the importance of regulating cannabis consumption. As previously done with alcohol, further studies should investigate the safest amount for people to consume and implement regulations for legal consumption. It is unfair to continue legalizing this drug without reflecting on the negative effects from consuming too much. So, before you hit another blunt with your friends or get the urge to try the new “Cannabis Chocolates” you saw from an ad on your Instagram feed, you may want to wait and see how much cannabis could be too much.
Created with images by Get Budding - "untitled image" • Jonathan Kemper - "untitled image"