CultureWatch 16 February 2014
In the US two states have recently decriminalised non-medical marijuana use: Colorado and Washington. US President Obama added fuel to the fire by saying, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” And in Australia the Queensland Premier is talking about allowing marijuana for medical use.
Campbell Newman said, “I am perfectly prepared to accept that hemp has potential to create drugs or treatments that might have a medical benefit for people. I believe this is something the Therapeutic Goods Administration or the National Health and Medical Research Council should be looking at.”
How are we to assess such developments? While entire libraries have been written on this, and I have written fully referenced research papers on these matters, let me here offer a very brief assessment. As to decriminalising marijuana for recreational use, the short answer to this madness runs as follows:
First, many studies have identified the dangers associated with cannabis use. Indeed, there are well over 10,000 scientific studies about marijuana and its effects. The findings reveal some alarming facts. Acute effects of cannabis use include: anxiety, panic, paranoia, cognitive impairment, psychomotor impairment, and increased risk of low birth rate babies. Chronic effects include: respiratory diseases, attention and memory loss or impairment, and cannabis dependence.
The Australian Medical Association has issued warnings on the health risks associated with smoking marijuana. Risks of cannabis use include memory loss, psychosis, impaired driving, hallucinations, asthma, and even lung cancer. Moreover, warned the AMA, one third to one half of detained patients admitted to psychiatric units in Australia are there because marijuana use has precipitated a relapse.