Got the munchies?
What new laws legalizing pot may mean for our health.
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:
“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.
I am also from CO and I did NOT vote for this. Where is the Morals and Values to life? I know of people who abuse alcohol so this will be the same. As a tax payer I will have to take care of those who use pot because of their use will affect their health and employment. My taxes will pay for their health care and welfare. They won't be able to work due to pot being in their system and employers drug testing along with our health system having to take care of the problems that occur with it. No thanks! My taxes could be used better.
I'm with you, Sally W. I don't do it, but I always vote for it.
Medical use for people who are dying, have cancer or disorders where
they cannot eat or feel lousy all the time should,with no doubt in my mind,
get the stuff anytime.
If it increases the state revenue and gets us free and clear from the effects
of the recession and the Tabor law, then hopefully a lot of good can come
from this decision.