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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.

Nov 16, 2012 2:57PM

I have lived under cover for 40 years, never admitting that I smoked to anyone outside my inner circle, how repressed is that. I am a design  engineer, in perfect health at age 60, and run circles around most my age. What's the f****** deal? How many posts like this does it take to get attention. I live in south Florida, guess how hard it is to find weed? Wake up Florida your missing out on billions, there's so much available it washes up on the beach.

Nov 16, 2012 2:56PM

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.

Nov 16, 2012 2:54PM
The problem with science is it doesn't test long enough.  Many problems show up decades later or in the next generation.   I would say make it legal, but as I would do with the others like alcohol.  Have the person pay for a insurance policy of 1 million dollars to cover any accidents to others done under the influence.  Second no medical coverage Unless paid by them would be offered.  I personally don't like any smoking as it stinks up the air, and you see your friends getting high,  You see what it does to them, but they don't see it in them or their other hi friends, well duh!.  It is like asking a drunk person if they are drunk, of course they say, no.  The big thing is It is still against federal law.
Nov 16, 2012 2:53PM
I know several that have died from bong-lung.
Nov 16, 2012 2:52PM
all of what you say may be true...but that still does not take away from the fact that the moves to legalize marijuana in Colorado and washington were great victories for liberty. Don't wanna smoke weed...don't smoke it. I do not need the government picking winners and choosers by telling me what drugs are OK and which are bad. This is always brought up : we gotta protect the children. Well that is a parents responsibility. I assure you any kid in a state where pot is "illegal" right now can get it it easier than they can get a pack of cigarettes. War on drugs is just another example of the failure of the federal government. Yay Colorado and Washington 
Nov 16, 2012 2:52PM
Miss Wadyka.....PLEASE check your facts.....marijuana has absolutely NO negative health effects.....the fact is cannabis sativa is a cure for many types of cancer, including testicular cancer, not a cause.  I applaud and thank you for voting to legalize marijuana use in your state; but, it is misinformation such as you have stated that is putting people who are ill and use cannabis for medicinal reason in prison.  I would suggest you blog a retraction.
Nov 16, 2012 2:52PM
This is by far the most poorly written article I've read on MSN.  Guys, would it kill you to hire a real some real journalists and not just any fob with a laptop who can type?
Nov 16, 2012 2:51PM
The fact that most pot users I know have addictive behaviors. This leads to smoking pot, followed immediately buy drinking alcohol and then following that up with a cigarette. Now where are we after making that behavior easier?
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