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Is Marijuana Good or Bad?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) confirms that marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States after alcohol. With the legalization of medicinal and recreational use of marijuana on the rise, it begs the question: is marijuana good or bad? To be fair, alcohol is legal, as are prescription drugs and tobacco. But addiction to legal substances can be just as intense as addiction to illegal substances. Therefore, the answer to this marijuana question falls into the shade of gray where you have to decide what is good or bad for you. 


Marijuana vs. Cannabis

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the terms “marijuana” and “cannabis” are often used interchangeably, but they do have different meanings. Marijuana is the part of the cannabis sativa plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a natural substance that can alter a person’s state of mind. Cannabis refers to any or all parts derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Another concentrate found in the cannabis plant is cannabidiol, also known as CBD. 

In the United States, many cannabis plants are legal and used as industrial hemp because the level of THC is very low. The concentration of CBD, THC, and other chemical concentrations of the cannabis plant (approximately 540 chemical substances in total) are formed through the industrializing of strains in certain plants. Due to THC’s mind-altering properties, the marijuana part of the plant was not historically legal for consumption in the United States, although many states have recently legalized marijuana and cannabis for recreational use. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), however, has not approved cannabis for use in any form. 


Using Marijuana or Cannabis as Prescribed 

Cannabis does have healing properties for some illnesses. According to NCCIH, prescription drugs containing cannabis are frequently prescribed to alleviate pain, reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy, reduce epileptic seizures, and help with sleep problems. Marijuana does not have the same credibility. In the state of Florida and many others, marijuana is still illegal for recreational use. Only certain prescriptions with cannabis in them are legal and only when administered by a doctor. 


Dangers of Marijuana 

Because it is illegal in many states and classified as a drug, marijuana is often not regulated the same way that prescription drugs are. The risk for contamination, irregularity, or danger in obtaining the drug may not be worth it. Due to THC’s brain-altering properties, marijuana can be addictive and cause many problems for the user.

NIDA reports that many people use marijuana by smoking hand-rolled cigarettes/joints, pipes, bongs, or vaporizers (vapes). Marijuana can also be ingested by baking it into food or soaking up the oil and infusing it into food. Many people also use thick, TCH-rich resins, sometimes called oil, wax, or dab/dab oil. Marijuana extracts (resins) are most often smoked but can also be baked into foods. Extracts pump a significant amount of THC into the user’s body, causing them to feel high.

Accordingly to NIDA, marijuana can have long-term and short-term effects on the human brain. TCH travels straight from the lungs or stomach (which takes longer) into the bloodstream, which then gets pumped to the brain. THC then reacts with the sensory receptors in the brain, creating a high that can:


  • Alter senses
  • Alter perception of time
  • Change mood
  • Impair body movement
  • Impair memory
  • Induce hallucinations or psychosis if a large dose is taken

The long-term effects of marijuana focus primarily on the brain. Researchers have confirmed that young people with prolonged use of marijuana can have inhibited brain development. In recent studies, the thinking, memory, learning ability, and connection-processing ability were all impaired in those who used marijuana regularly as teens. Teens are also more susceptible to becoming addicted to marijuana, although adults can become addicted as well.

Many people who smoke marijuana have also reported lung problems, as human lungs are not meant to take in anything besides air. Smoking marijuana, especially through a vape, can do significant damage to the lungs over time. To learn more, NIDA’s Research Report answers many common questions about marijuana use. 


How Do You Know If You’re Addicted to Marijuana? 

NIDA estimates that 30% of regular marijuana users have a substance abuse disorder and confirms that those who begin using as teens are more likely to become addicted. This is also referred to as marijuana dependence or cannabis dependence. When a true addiction is present, the person will experience withdrawal symptoms, creating a compulsive and chronic need to use marijuana. If a person cannot stop using marijuana, it can become a major problem. 

According to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, common withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana use disorder include:

  • Problems completing normal routines like school, work, or family life
  • Anger/aggression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Intense dreams

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may be addicted to marijuana, reach out to your healthcare provider or a local rehabilitation facility for help. Although cannabis is used for medicinal purposes, marijuana is addictive and can negatively impact a person’s life. 


Marijuana is a staple in today’s pop culture and popular with people from all walks of life, but many find it hard to stop. If you are feeling withdrawal symptoms from marijuana use and don’t know how to stop your marijuana dependency on your own, there is help available. At RECO Intensive, we understand the seriousness of long-term marijuana, and we specifically treat marijuana dependence to help you and others like you. Our professional staff and experienced alumni will work with you to create an individualized plan for your success. RECO Intensive offers inpatient care, outpatient care, and our partial hospitalization program to meet your needs and your schedule. Some people begin using marijuana to help decompress and alleviate any mental health issues or negative feelings. Our staff offers a myriad of mental health therapies to aid you in your RECOvery. To learn more, call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533

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