Jennifer Merino

A recent InSTALLment provided by the Wellness Center containing misinformation about marijuana — titled Marijuana 101 — has been posted on bathroom stalls around campus brings attention to some significant errors within its content. 

The InSTALLment claims that marijuana is an “illicit drug.” However, the Oxford English Dictionary, defines the word “illicit” as, “Not authorized or allowed: not sanctioned by, law, rule, or custom.” This term no longer applies to marijuana, which is now legal for medical and recreational use in the state of California as of November 9, 2016. 

The InSTALLment also states that an individual is “7 times more likely to contract STD infections than non-users (for female).” However, after doing extensive research, I could not find any reports that support the correlation between the two. If the writer is implying that an STD can be transmitted because people are sexually active while under the influence of marijuana, simply adding the use of marijuana is not a sufficient variable to make this statement feasible. 

Another claim the InSTALLment makes is that “heavy marijuana smokers are at the same risk for some of the same health risks as cigarette smokers [such as] chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illness.” Researchers from the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Emory University’s School of Medicine concluded: “In a large cross-section of U.S. adults, cumulative lifetime marijuana use, up to 20 joint-years, is not associated with adverse changes in spirometric measures of lung health…the pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.” This indicates that long-term marijuana use may not affect lung-health, especially in comparison with tobacco use. 

The InSTALLment made another statement saying that marijuana causes a long-term health effect within the parameters of “relationship problems, intimate partner violence.” This is another flawed correlation that could not be found through research. There is a statement where Larry King states, “I had four chiefs of police on, and the question I raised was: ‘If neither one was legal, marijuana or liquor, and you could only legalize one, what would you legalize?’ And they all answered at the same time, ‘marijuana,’ because they had never seen a murder committed while someone [was] under the influence of marijuana, and 80% of the homicides they had investigated were alcohol-related. I think alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.” 

Cannabis can also serve as an alternative drug in lieu of alcohol and other riskier drugs, which can lead to a rapid decline in liver function. Dirk W. Lachenmeier and Jürgen Rehm from the Nature Research Journal stated, “Our MOE [margin of exposure] results confirm previous drug rankings based on other approaches. Specifically, the results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past… According to the typical interpretation of MOEs derived from animal experiments, for individual exposure the four substances alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin fall into the “high risk” category with MOE.” This reinforces the concept that the formerly known “illicit” drug is safer when used in moderation—unlike alcohol and other drugs that still heavily impact the liver when consumed in moderation. 

The cannabis plant also contains added benefits, which may include: an increase in creativity, aiding with eating disorders, and lowering blood pressure. Though like any other substance, marijuana should be used sparingly. The legalization of marijuana has also aided in decreasing the populations’ usage of liver-damaging drugs that help with issues such as: anxiety, headaches, depression, treatment for ADHD, nausea, and insomnia. 

A moderate use of cannabis has been proven to have little-to-no detrimental health drawbacks. This leads to a general consensus that marijuana, as a substance, is a healthier alternative to many other substances.

As educated individuals, it is our responsibility to be well informed on all sides of the argument.