The Risks of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana is often in the news because of changing attitudes and changing laws about this federally-banned drug. Many people feel as if marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a low-risk drug to use recreationally or for medicinal purposes. Many also believe there are advantages to legalizing and regulating this drug on a state-by-state basis. However, the cons of legalizing marijuana are great and it is important to be well informed.

How Are Kids Endangered by Legal Marijuana?

One of the biggest questions surrounding the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington for recreational use by adults is how it will impact teens and kids. Among the disadvantages of legalizing marijuana, the most important may be any harm that comes to young people. As with alcohol, cannabis is reserved for adults, but that doesn’t mean that teens won’t get access. With their developing minds and bodies, being exposed to this mind-altering substance could have negative consequences. 

How Dangerous Is Driving While High?

Another serious concern with respect to recreational use of pot is the possibility of more car accidents. Drinking and driving is already a major issue for public safety and adding another intoxicating, legal substance could add to the number of devastating incidents. Of all the marijuana legalization pros and cons, this possibility may be the most frightening.

In an attempt to minimize the incidence of driving while under the influence, the states that have legalized recreational pot have also set driving limits. The problem is that it can be hard to know just how much cannabis causes significant impairment. It has taken years to adjust alcohol blood limits to safe levels and it may take just as long to figure out how much pot is too much to drive. The truth is that any amount could be too much and policy makers must determine how to keep everyone safe on the road as use of marijuana rises.

Is Marijuana Safe to Use?

Another one of the cons of marijuana legalization is the threat to individual and public health. Too many people view marijuana as harmless because it is much less dangerous than other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. The truth is that marijuana does cause health problems and if legalization brings about an increase in use of the drug, we could see the consequences.

The active substances in marijuana, called cannabinoids, are known to negatively affect memory and cognitive function. The act of smoking marijuana, while not as bad for health as cigarettes, may contribute to lung diseases and increase the risk of developing cancer. Of course, marijuana also impairs judgment, which means that users sometimes make bad choices that lead to harm to self and others. While many celebrate the shifting attitudes and the more lax laws, it is important to acknowledge the many negative consequences that could result from changing drug policies.

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