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Hey dude, where’s my balls?!

Do I have your attention? Good.

That’s what some young men might ask themselves in the near future if they keep smoking marijuana recreationally.

Scientists at the University of Southern California say they’ve detected a link between recreational marijuana use and a greater chance among males in their early teens through their mid-30s of contracting a particularly dangerous form of testicular cancer — non-seminoma tumors, according to a small study published today online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. [MSNBC, 2012]

The study, though small, showed a correlational between recreational marijuana use and an aggressive form of testicular cancer. The active ingredient in marijuana –THC seems to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a cellular network that also works in the formation of sperm.

Public Perception of Marijuana

We know that marijuana is addicting because we work with people who have become dependent on this drug but they aren’t the only ones. Marijuana is the drug used by an estimated 61% of all Americans suffering from a substance use disorder related to drugs other than alcohol. Marijuana is considered a “gateway” drug to other drug use but many still downplay its huge impact in the cycle of addiction. The general public is still up in the air on whether they believe marijuana is addicting or not. Many people believe that it is not more dangerous than alcohol and it should be legalized and regulated just like alcohol while others feel it should remain illegal. I believe that marijuana has been so ingrained into American culture that the facts no longer matter; it’s all about the culture.

Is Marijuana addicting?

According to ASAM, marijuana use can lead to tolerance to the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as to addiction. Marijuana dependence is the most common type of drug dependence worldwide with 9% of first time users becoming dependent. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are also present when users try to quit. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, appetite disturbance and depression.

Are there Health Benefits with Marijuana use?

ASAM warns that smoked marijuana is not, and cannot be a medicine and that it should be developed and approved by the FDA by those who think otherwise. However, there have been large amounts of support in the use of marijuana to fight cancer.  Pro marijuana activist like Dr.Grinspoon of Harvard support and advocate the use of marijuana to fight certain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, arthritis, and depression. [Ibtimes, 2012] It’s easy to see why so many are confused about marijuana, is it good for us or is not? I think the main issue here is that smoked marijuana can cause addiction and that it is currently illegal. Like many other drugs there are benefits to the natural state of the drug or only partial components. When a drug is used for medical reasons and not abused it can be beneficial but marijuana has not been approved by the FDA as of yet for those purposes.

Are there negative health benefits to Marijuana use?

Yes. Marijuana use affects memory, verbal fluency, attention, learning, perception of time, sensory perception and increases anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. Marijuana smoke also contains more carbon monoxide, tar and carcinogens than tobacco smoke. Marijuana cigarettes can deposit as much as four times the amount of tar to the lungs compared to tobacco cigarettes. Although people say marijuana has not caused any deaths, research shows that “drugged driving” from marijuana intoxication doubles the risk of a crash and amongst all fatal car crashes in the U.S for which test results were available, 8.6% were positive for marijuana.

So is marijuana good for you or bad for you?

I don’t believe that the perceived benefits (like cancer fighting properties) out weight the negative health effects that legalization and recreational use of marijuana will have on the American population. In ASAM’s white paper, State-Level Proposals to Legalize Marijuana, they make some recommendations in regards to Marijuana that sum of the dangers of marijuana and its potential legalization in a nutshell.

  • Marijuana use is neither safe nor harmless. Marijuana contains psychoactive cannabinoids which produce a sense of pleasure in many users and a sense of discomfort and even paranoid thoughts in other users. Cannabinoids interact with brain circuits in comparable ways to opioids, cocaine and other addictive drugs.
  • Substance use disorders resulting from marijuana use are a serious and widespread health problem.
  • Marijuana use is associated with adverse health consequences, including damage to specific organs and tissues and impairments in behavioral and neurological functioning. Among these are acute impairments in the performance of complex tasks such as driving a motor vehicle.
  • Marijuana-related crashes, deaths and injuries are currently a major highway safety threat in the United States.
  • Legalization of marijuana would likely lead the general public and, in particular, young people, to view marijuana as less harmful than it is now viewed. Decreases in “perceived harm” associated with marijuana use would result in increased rates of marijuana use and increased rates of marijuana-related substance use disorders, including addiction.
  • Marijuana use is associated with increased rates and worsening symptoms of psychosis. Population-wide increases in availability of and access to high-potency marijuana would be associated with increased rates of marijuana use and could result in increased rates of psychotic illnesses.
  • Increased incidence and prevalence of marijuana-related substance use disorders, including marijuana addiction, would lead to increased demand for treatment services. Today treatment systems are inadequate for meeting the current treatment needs in our nation.
  • Revenues projected to be generated from taxation of legal marijuana would be far lower than the costs associated with increased marijuana use and would be unlikely to be targeted to these needs, as tobacco and alcohol revenues are not targeted to the health costs of the use of these drugs.

 

Sources:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48969102/ns/health-mens_health/

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/371724/20120808/medical-marijuana-health-benefits-legalization-effects-facts.htm?page=2

http://www.asam.org/advocacy/find-a-policy-statement/view-policy-statement/public-policy-statements/state-level-proposals-to-legalize-marijuana

 

If you or someone you know needs marijuana treatment, call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.

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