I’ve been a rock musician for most of my life, and I have smoked my share of marijuana. I found that being a rock musician made drugs easily available to me. I don’t know the reason why, but that’s the way it was.
Although I smoked a lot of marijuana, it apparently did not harm me physically. I didn’t get any illness. I didn’t go crazy.
I no longer smoke marijuana for reasons I’ll explain below, but my personal view is that marijuana should be legal.
The case for legalization
Various studies, and many health care professionals, conclude that smoking marijuana does not lead to the serious health conditions that are caused by drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco.
I probably don’t have to mention that new uses for marijuana are being found in pain management, relieving chemotherapy symptoms, treating insomnia. Research into marijuana’s benefits are continuing, so we can expect more good news.
For those reasons, the movement to legalize marijuana is gathering momentum across the country. It’s not unreasonable to expect it to happen soon.
In my opinion, marijuana should be regulated similar to alcohol. Just like stores need a liquor license to sell alcohol, a license should be required to sell marijuana, or to grow it in commercial quantities. To maintain quality of life in our neighborhoods, street sales should be prohibited. Public intoxication, driving under the influence and sales to minors should also be prohibited.
Since marijuana doesn’t seem to be more dangerous than other legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, it seems logical to make it legal for recreational use, as well as medical use. Science has proved that alcohol and tobacco can kill people who use them long term. Not so with marijuana. It has psychological effects, but it is not lethal.
Also, not many would want to buy their weed from a drug dealer, if they were given the much safer choice of buying it in a store. Street sales of marijuana would likely dry up, giving less money to criminals. It might even make our streets a little safer.
Is marijuana a gateway drug?
It has long been proposed that marijuana leads to usage of harder drugs, like opioids. In reality, 95% of marijuana users do not go on to stronger drugs.
Making marijuana legal will mean that users will no longer have to go to drug dealers to buy it, and making it less likely that marijuana users will be exposed to harder drugs.
Marijuana’s harmful effects
To say that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco does not mean there are no bad effects. Although marijuana hasn’t been shown to be as lethal as long term use of alcohol or tobacco can be, there are still problems.
Short term use can cause paranoia, impaired driving, sexual dysfunction in men, coordination problems, hallucinations. These symptoms generally go away as the drug wears off.
Heavy long term use of marijuana is most problematic in young people. It can permanently lower the IQ, if started early in life. It doesn’t seem to cause that problem in adults.
Long term use and quality of life
But there are more serious effects of long term marijuana use. In the efforts to legalize it, little attention is paid to the damage it can do to one’s quality of life. Marijuana might not kill you, but it can mess you up. Long term use can cause the following:
- Lack of ambition.
- Poor judgement.
- Relationship problems.
- Users lie to cover up their marijuana use.
- Users may engage in petty theft to pay for their habit.
- Financial difficulties.
- Marijuana can become a habit.
A person is not going to get ahead with all that going on. Suffering from just a few of the above effects can lead to a decline in the satisfaction of life.
The illusion that everything is fine
People like to smoke marijuana because it works. It will make you feel good. That is also the downside of marijuana. It works too well. It kept me feeling good as my life slowly became more and more unmanageable.
I experienced every one of those seven long term effects listed above:
- I purposely listed lack of ambition first because that is what causes all the other problems. I became so laid back from smoking marijuana, that I didn’t worry about anything. I didn’t act on the opportunities I had to get ahead. I let everything slide.
I got lazy about completing my assignments in school, so my grades suffered. I did just enough to get by.
In work, I stopped improving and studying my music. My guitar playing ability stagnated.
- I had poor judgement. Risking being put in jail for using marijuana was pretty stupid. And then there were the risks of buying marijuana from dangerous dealers. I didn’t give any thought to the danger I was in. I was lucky that something really bad didn’t happen.
- I had major relationship problems. My parents knew something was up. We would argue often.
Also, I was high most of the time and acting stupid. That is not an attractive look to any potential romantic partner. Women didn’t hang around long, and I don’t blame them.
- I had to lie a lot. My family wouldn’t approve of my marijuana use. I had to keep it a secret from them. I’d have to lie about where I was going, what I was doing. It’s like a led a secret life.
- A few times I had to steal to pay for my habit. I’m sorry to say that I once stole two dollars from an acquaintance. Afterwards, I felt so bad about it that I never stole money again.
- Financial difficulties: I was always running out of money. It seemed like I was always ten dollars away from being homeless. I had no car, no nice clothes. I barely got by.
- When I finally realized that my life was in shambles and it was time to quit, I found that smoking marijuana had become a habit. I tried to quit, but it wasn’t easy. For many months I was tempted to smoke another joint. I relapsed many times. It was a stubborn habit to break because all my friends were still smoking. I knew all the dealers. I decided I had to move to another city in order to leave marijuana behind for good. That worked. I haven’t relapsed.
There is a common thread to all this: Whenever I was sober and started to worry about how my life was going downhill, I would just smoke another joint. That would send me back into my blissful, carefree illusion that I was doing fine.
The decline in the quality of my life was very slow and gradual. It was easy to keep the illusion going at first. All I had to do was keep smoking the weed.
But eventually, I was failing in school. And then, I wasn’t getting any work as a musician. That’s when it hit me. I had totally screwed up my life by being irresponsible. It was like everything had suddenly gone to hell when I wasn’t looking.
It is ironic that I started smoking marijuana to feel good, but it ended up making me feel bad. I should have seen what was happening, but I was high all the time and I didn’t see it coming.
Marijuana is currently being promoted as a useful, safe drug, but there is that serious downside for the habitual user. It took me years to get my life back on track.
But I don’t have a problem with anyone using marijuana in the privacy of their home. It’s a personal decision. The occasional, light user will likely never have a problem. It is only when it becomes a long term habit that life can become unmanageable.
I didn’t write this piece to preach on whether anyone should smoke marijuana or not. Just educate yourself and be careful. My one go round with marijuana was enough for me because I’m the type of person that might overdo it again.
But everyone is not like me, so I’m not going to take a position on what others should do. Your life. Your choice.