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Got the munchies?

What new laws legalizing pot may mean for our health.

By Sally Wadyka Nov 15, 2012 6:49PM

I don’t personally smoke (or eat) marijuana, but I do live in Colorado, so if I decided to take up the habit, I would no longer be risking arrest. As of last week, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize the recreational use of the drug.

As soon as the news broke, the jokes started flying (Rocky Mountain high, anyone?). Even my state’s governor, John Hickenlooper, couldn’t resist taking a “pot” shot:
Colin Brynn/Getty Images
“Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

But just because smoking weed will no longer get you arrested in these two states doesn’t mean it can’t wreak havoc on your health. The adverse effects of pot smoking (or eating — since the edibles market is likely to increase in places where consumption is now legal) are the subject of much debate. Pot’s proponents claim that a little weed is no worse for you than a cocktail or a couple glasses of wine. And to some extent, they’ve got a point. Some of the major hazards of marijuana intoxication are virtually the same as those associated with alcohol intoxication — namely, impairments in reaction time, information processing, motor coordination and focus.

Other connections to ill health are a little more elusive. A couple of studies have linked regular marijuana use to an increased risk of testicular cancer.

And it stands to reason that smoking pot can set you up for many of the same respiratory troubles —such as chronic cough and bronchitis — as cigarette smoking.  And according to Wayne Hall, a cannabis researcher at the University of Queensland, Australia, marijuana use is “highly correlated with use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs — all of which adversely affect health.”

The real question, though, is whether or not legalization will make more people likely to overlook the potential health dangers and become marijuana users. I don’t know of anyone who reacted to the election news by going out and grabbing their first pot brownie, but it is possible that some people will now treat Colorado and Washington as stateside versions of Amsterdam. Honestly, I don’t think the law will ultimately change most peoples’ behavior, and, with any luck, it will add some revenue to the states’ coffers.

So I may not smoke it, but yeah, I voted for it.

767Comments
Nov 15, 2012 11:56PM
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Hey!  I seldom smoke... but when I do... I prefer Acapulco Gold with my Dos Equis.  Stay high my friends and don't forget to share your joint with the women!
Nov 15, 2012 11:53PM
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Its the only thing that got me through cancer treatment I swear I wouldnt have made it if I didnt have it. I ate and gained weight and my doctors were thrilled. I would have to disagree that it doesnt make you intoxicated I have been plenty loopy and it certainly does affect you, but nothing like alcohol. Also depends on what kind you smoke some makes you paranoid some makes you hungry some just makes you happy and relaxed.

Some people use its as crutch and never leave their couch. Personally it motivates me to do things and I get a little hyper. Legalize in FLORIDA PLEASE!!!!

Nov 15, 2012 11:52PM
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When I was in my early 20s, I smoked both cigarettes and pot.  I kicked the cigarettes, kept the pot (I've since given that up as well), and was back to running 4 to 5 miles a day without any issues.  I could never have done that if I had kept the cigs and kicked the pot.  Anecdotal evidence, of course.
Nov 15, 2012 11:52PM
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You are so biased by all the old bullchit arguments, you cannot even be close to objective...!  A proponderous amount of major, medical studies, since the early 1900's, with thousands of smokers, including, major Hashish smokers in Turkey, have found, no, significant evidence for Cancer!...Absolutely none!...so, Joe Scholar, don't even propose this bullchit...recent studies, have yet to substantiate, any Cancer inducing properties, identified with Cannabis consumption...so, please stop continuing your bullchit...It, simply does not cause Cancer...I REPEAT...It does not cause Cancer...do you get it, yet Ah?!  The AMA and many other, Government sponsored, organizations, keep trying to establish, some connection, with Cabbabis and Cancer and all the King's horses and all the King's men, have not found any significant evidence for Cannabis causing Cancer...read my lips...no causality between pot and Cancer, idiot f.....g, moron.  Word...you, dude, read my pot smoking lips...smoked it for 4 decades...no Cancer, no problem, cut the bs....!
Nov 15, 2012 11:48PM
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How about the odds of pot leading to other more highly addictive and lethal drugs?  I have no stats but I would say that a vast majority of heroine, cocaine and meth users started with pot.  And today's pot is pretty potent stuff.  Just a thought from someone who has never taken an illegal drug in his life but lives in Washington State and will have to live with the vote.
Nov 15, 2012 11:47PM
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Legalized cannabis would lead to a healthier America.  We'd start by eliminating 800,000 arrests for possession each year.
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