National Geographic News
A photo of people smoking marijuana

Festivalgoers pass a pipe back and forth at Seattle's Hempfest last August.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JORDAN STEAD, SEATTLEPI.COM

A photo of Nora Volkow.

PHOTORGAPH BY JOSHUA ROBERTS, BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY

Bruce Barcott

for National Geographic

Published March 4, 2014

Momentum toward public acceptance of marijuana is building. Last year Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize pot for recreational use. Alaska and Oregon may soon follow suit, and many other states are considering legislation to decriminalize use of the drug or make it legal for medical purposes. Earlier this year, President Obama himself noted that while he considered the drug a "bad habit and a vice," he did not think it any more dangerous than alcohol.

But how well do we really understand the health impacts of marijuana? At a private dinner party for journalists last week hosted by National Geographic and USA Today, NIH director Francis Collins voiced concerns: Studies have shown that prolonged use of the drug by teenagers can lead to permanent decline in cognitive ability, and the possible contribution of pot smoke to lung cancer is unknown. "We don't know a lot about the things we wish we did," Collins said.

To follow up on Collins's remarks, National Geographic interviewed Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

What are your concerns about marijuana as legal sales begin in Colorado and Washington?

We're keeping an eye on a possible increase in use, particularly among young people. And there's concern about the fact that you're creating an industry whose purpose is to sell marijuana products. The more people who smoke, the more profit they generate. When you have a profit incentive to promote the use of a substance, that could increase the problems associated with it.

President Obama recently compared marijuana to tobacco and alcohol, two unhealthy but legally tolerated vices. Does marijuana belong in that category?

I don't like to say one drug is better or worse than another; each must be viewed within its own context. Tobacco is clearly the number one killer among drugs. On the other hand, when you smoke a cigarette, it doesn't impair your brain's cognitive capacity. That's very different from drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana.

Alcohol can disrupt your coordination; that's why it's so frequently associated with car accidents. It can also make you more impulsive. Marijuana, by contrast, drops your mental state; it makes you slower and interferes with your capacity to learn and memorize. For a young person, whose main responsibility is to learn and study, that can be very disruptive and have different consequences than cigarette smoking. That's why I say each [drug] has to be considered within its own context.

A number of studies have indicated that marijuana smoking holds far greater risks for teens than for adults, especially in terms of brain development. There's also concern over a possible connection between pot smoking and the onset of schizophrenia. But there are classic correlation-or-causation questions with these studies. What's your reading of the situation?

That's a difficult one. Establishing causality with mental illness is not clear cut. What the research seems to show—for schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety—is that if you have an underlying predilection for these illnesses, smoking marijuana may accelerate the disease's progress and exacerbate it. Studies have found that schizophrenics are more likely to smoke marijuana, but that doesn't mean that marijuana produced the schizophrenia.

In any normal person, if you give them high enough doses of 9-THC—delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana's major psychoactive ingredient—you may trigger paranoia. But it's generally short lived. In young people who have a vulnerability to schizophrenia, by contrast, marijuana can trigger a chronic psychosis, which is a much more serious condition. So there may be a connection there. It's a difficult question, because other factors may also be at work. Many people with schizophrenia may also have started smoking cigarettes at an early age, yet nobody suggests cigarettes trigger schizophrenia. In certain people who have genetic vulnerabilities, marijuana use might be a contributing factor for triggering a mental illness. I'm not completely ruling that out.

NIH Director Francis Collins recently touched on the need for more studies on marijuana smoking and lung cancer. What little research we have suggests a much lower risk of lung cancer among marijuana smokers as compared to tobacco smokers. What are the risks to a pot smoker's lungs?

The literature seems to indicate that if you're a heavy user of marijuana, that may be associated with an elevated risk of cancer of the lung. But it has to be very heavy use. For milder use, the risk seems to be much lower. There is some evidence of a heightened risk of testicular cancer, though, which is a fairly rare form of cancer.

The issue with marijuana and the lungs is that when you're smoking it, you're inhaling a wide variety of chemicals other than THC. Now, a tobacco smoker may smoke 20 cigarettes a day, whereas a very heavy marijuana smoker will smoke at most five joints a day. So the amount of exposure to all those chemicals is much greater in tobacco smoking than in marijuana smoking.

Medical marijuana advocates and federal officials do not agree on whether smoking the drug is a safe way to deliver its potential benefits. If THC and CBD have potential medical value, what are the risks of smoking the raw plant?

Some researchers are interested in the therapeutic value of THC and cannabidiol (CBD), another promising compound found in marijuana. But smoked marijuana is problematic as a medicine. You don't want to deliver cancer-causing compounds along with potentially therapeutic compounds.

One of the things technology and science allow us to do is investigate and isolate the active ingredients in a plant like marijuana, and then deliver them to the patient in a way that minimizes side effects. A doctor may have a patient for whom the dumbing-down effect of smoked marijuana may be very adverse. You want to give them the benefits without the harm. This is exactly why we develop medicine.

Heroin is a perfect example. It's a very potent narcotic. But when we're treating pain, we don't give heroin. We develop medications that can be just as effective but don't have the side effect of addiction.

Recently there have been calls to rethink marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug. Is it time to consider rescheduling it?

Well, that's for another agency to decide. At NIDA, we do the research and provide the evidence that other agencies use to make their policy decisions. My view is that the cannabinoids are one of the most fascinating targets we have for the development of medicines. It's an extremely important area of research. As research starts to emerge showing the possible health benefits of specific compounds within marijuana, like 9-THC or cannabidiol, one could ask if it's appropriate. I think that ultimately the data will determine whether it should be reconsidered or not.

State regulators in Washington and Colorado have been frustrated with the lack of research into marijuana's effect on the body and mind. They're setting limits on THC content in edible products, but have little science to guide them. Should we be doing more research on the basic effects of marijuana on the body and brain?

I think we want that information. We need to do those studies and know more about the consequences of marijuana use. So many people want to polarize the issue: Marijuana is perfect, it cures everything; or it's evil and destroys everything. It's more complex than that. That's why we need science to come in and address these questions.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what might happen in Colorado and Washington State? What indicators are you watching?

My prediction is that state legalization will expose more people to marijuana. As a result you're going to have many more adverse consequences, just as we have with nicotine and alcohol—simply because so many more people will become exposed to it.

Dr. Volkow's remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.

61 comments
Mat S
Mat S

"A doctor may have a patient for whom the dumbing-down effect of smoked marijuana may be very adverse"

What a demonstration of utter ignorance. Her "cognitive decline," "dumbing-down" smears have no factual basis, but are the perception of the uninformed and unexperienced. Depending on the person, the type of cannabis, and the initiative of the user, one can experience the exact opposite of 'cognitive decline.' Generally cannabis increases pattern recognition. That's why it enhances music, movies, and creative endeavors. But with increased pattern recognition, one can also connect dots that are not actually connected, creating paranoia (usually of a social nature). This is a larger issue for some people than others. Some people never experience it. Others use it as a lesson to learn from, creating a discipline around knowing what dots to ignore and which to connect - based on evidence. The latter is one the greatest lessons these substances can teach us.

The aforementioned ignorant perception of the "dumbing-down" effect of cannabis is usually the result of varied temporary phenomena. 1. The uncontrollable giggles, usually experienced by novice users. 2. The side effect of short-term memory loss, the extent of which is variable. 3. Inhibition of the user. The user, connecting the dots and rightly recognizing the very un-serious nature of life, can act more openly. Being more open - for example, questioning something considered common-sense - they are naturally more likely to be, or be perceived as, "wrong." The more you stick your neck out, etc. "You ever think about your breathing?" the cannabis user asks. "No," says the non-user, rolling their eyes. The non-user, having no reference point, thinks the user has been mentally reduced in some way - "why, they're considering the obvious! How silly and stupid!" They don't realize the user is connecting countless dots in a grand way that escapes their linguistic capability to describe. The non-user sees a square, where the cannabis user is referencing a cube.

Of course the above is a certain kind of generalization. Sometimes (all) people are stupid and mistaken. (Hm, "sometimes"?). And some dots aren't connected into a grand profound picture - but so what? Lighten up and question the things you take for granted; you may learn something. The point is the "dumbing-down" myth associated with cannabis is a misperception.

Anel Rom
Anel Rom

Every country in the world should follow and listen to Nora Volkow !! In my opinion the only person in the world that truly KNOWS the complex subject of addiction, recovery (drugs), and mental illness. Almost like  "Listen when G-d speaks"

Stephen Daniel
Stephen Daniel

Looking at the statistics of mental illness and schizophrenia, the rates have stayed steady with the increased use of marijuana use over the last 7 decades. Meaning mental illness and schizophrenia rates have not increased with increased usage of marijuana over 7 decades. We might be able to find a correlation with alcohol and mental illness definitely but not marijuana. Some people will get sick while using marijuana about 1% of the population. Compare that to pharmaceuticals which kill people at a rate of 100,000 people per year or bad food which kills over 1,000,000 people per year. Marijuana is dangerous. Just not as dangerous as food, water, automobiles, motorcycles, household chemical cleaners, fire, trees, air, animals etc... Let's put everyone in Nerf suits so nobody gets a boo boo. I would much rather my children eat some pot than drink some bleach. At least they would not die. Let us try to look at everything in reality instead of government propaganda fairy land.

Stephen Daniel
Stephen Daniel

NIDA has been studying the harmful effects of marijuana for decades. This article shows how safe marijuana actually is. NIDA has not found anything except when "someone has consumed too much they may have trouble concentrating", kind of like having to much caffeine. "Marijuana may cause cancer" similar to artificial sweeteners, not! "It causes young people to have lower IQs". How does this work and where were the studies done. I do not believe adolescents should be using marijuana and I believe legalization will take the marijuana out of the hands of the children and regulate it like alcohol. Alcohol lowers IQs in adults and teenagers far more than marijuana. In high school it was harder to get alcohol than marijuana. NIDA has been lying to us for decades and now they continue to lie. Since NIDA has wasted a billion of tax dollars over 7 decades trying to find something bad about marijuana and never found a smoking gun, why should we bother listening to what they have to say now? NIDA proved marijuana smoke did not cause cancer many years ago with Donald Tashkin's research and now they lie to us about that. More research recently has also proved marijuana smoke does not cause cancer. Tobacco causes cancer in chewed form or smoked form. This can not be debated. Marijuana kills cancer in edibles and in smoke form. Furthermore, if someone wants to use marijuana without smoke and still inhale it they just use one of the thousands of vaporizers that are offered for purchase. Many people enjoy vaporizers everyday who need medication. NIDA claims we should take the marijuana plant and throw it in the garbage and make a synthetic patentable molecule that will do the same thing while making a couple of people filthy rich. They have already tried to make synthetic versions remember all the synthetic pot on the streets? Those synthetic molecules are patented and made by big pharma. Our children are free to buy them at the corner market. The synthetic marijuana can cause extreme fear far more extreme than regular marijuana. The reason is the synthetic marijuana is a full agonist on CB1, while the real THC is a partial agonist. Trust me, do not let the government make the decisions for our families and children they will destroy us with synthetic chemicals while a few people get rich. This is what this whole argument is about. The government does not want people to use herbs when they could be using synthetics and making a couple of people filthy rich. We do not eat synthetic food, so why are we taking synthetic drugs. We do not isolate marijuana compounds because marijuana like other herbal medicines work the way they are and have worked for thousands of years before man started making synthetic marijuana.

Gary Robinette
Gary Robinette

I sincerely doubt that more people will be exposed to marijuana by making it legal. It is illegal in most places now but plenty of people of all ages have access to and use it on a frequent basis. 


What legalization will do is open up new industries, generate legal revenue and quite possibly remove a stigma for people who deem that they do have a problem which will allow them to seek treatment.  

Immortal Illumined
Immortal Illumined

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13


i expect national geographic to be a strong marijuana supporter, long live nat geo


"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1

Average spent per inmate a year = $31,286 (profit and police over people)
Average spent per student a year = $10,605 (dumber and more in debt, each one of us is liable for around $40,000 of rising American debt) 

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

sandeep kumar
sandeep kumar

Marijuana....it's all over the world and many people like n take it.

Humberto Solis
Humberto Solis

Look it's very simple. Marihuana became illegal with the aid of a very lame campaign against it (I mean "Reefer Madness"?!?! you can't be serious with that!!) that had almost no cientific backup. Nowadays when there have been serious studies that have shown more benefits of this plant than what was thought of, why is it so freakin difficult to get it back to the legal frame if it wasn't (and will never be) dangerous for at least 10,000 years?!. I mean after all, you have to be really stupid to smoke and drive or work or do sports, marihuana doesn't make people stupid, there are dumb and dangerous people that smoke.



P.S. "A doctor may have a patient for whom the dumbing-down effect of smoked marijuana may be very adverse. You want to give them the benefits without the harm." That is the worst argument ever. If handled properly (not watching tv, driving, in a party, etc.) the "high" effect of THC, is far from being a "harm", in nature, or reading a book, or having deep conversations, THC can be a great tool for introspection, which leads to a better knowledge of yourself and of everything else.

darlene saldanha
darlene saldanha

Very  good interview. Make us think ... There are many sides to consider.

Nicholas Coconuts Giliberto
Nicholas Coconuts Giliberto

nothing is as dangerous as to how it is used and why.  A hammer can build a house and it can crush a skull, depending on how you wish you use it is up to you. 

Rodolfo Alonzo
Rodolfo Alonzo

Denniss thanks for the facts. Colorado is going to be making money. When it comes time for our Governor to sign a pot bill. He will most likely mention his God, and veto the bill. Colorado is a Democratic state. They voted on it, and the Rules.

Jake Siea
Jake Siea

I would like to say that I am a college student that uses marijuana regularly as a method of de-stressing, and am managing fairly well to succeed in a competitive academic program at a reputable university while working two part time jobs. I don't discredit the research regarding the exacerbation of schizophrenia and psychosis as I have a family history of mental illness and have found certain traits appearing in my mental state since the acceleration of my use. That is not to say that I fully blame the CBD and 9-THC for the lapses in my mental acuity as there are many factors of stress and lack of sleep in my daily life, but I wonder if the marijuana use has accelerated these attributes. I really hope that the NIH and other organizations work on the publication and availability of definitive research regarding the physical and mental affects of Marijuana and its components, as it will inevitably affect my generation drastically.

Jason Lemieux
Jason Lemieux

Yeah it's a good thing we treat pain with drugs like codeine, percocet, and oxycontin that don't have the side effect of addiction. We wouldn't want to lump anything so destructive as marijuana in with those wonder drugs. 

Steve Rolles
Steve Rolles

Nora - you note that:


"Heroin is a perfect example. It's a very potent narcotic. But when we're treating pain, we don't give heroin. We develop medications that can be just as effective but don't have the side effect of addiction."

This isnt completely accurate. Heroin (diamorphine) is widely used outside of the US for pain control - in the UK and in much of Europe for example. The US ban is a historical/political artifact, not a reflection of diamorphine's effectiveness or toxicology. Many of the opiates that are allowed for pain control in the US are just as addictive as diamorphine, and others, such as fentanyl and remifentanil, are more potent and risky.

Bill Dudley
Bill Dudley

I don't doubt marijuana has some negative health effects (although I was a little surprised to hear that alcohol doesn't affect one's cognitive capacity).  Still though, the question in my mind is should it be criminalized?  To me the answer is a resounding no.  Treat marijuana as a social or health problem, but not as a criminal matter.

John Magar Budha
John Magar Budha

It's true that " marijuana can trigger a chronic psychosis"

Chris Nickel
Chris Nickel

" On the other hand, when you smoke a cigarette, it doesn't impair your brain's cognitive capacity. That's very different from drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana."

Spoken by a none pot smoker!

Davide Antonelli Laghi
Davide Antonelli Laghi

It is funny but everywhere we prefer letting  our patients strictly dependent upon a medicine box  full of "legal" pills/tablets meanwhile we consider as a fiendish substance  any kind of drug  we don't pay for in the pharmacy. Millions of our patients are already  dependent on pills/: besides,  millions of people are deeply  hooked on the alcohol consumption which luring addiction slowly and cheaply thashes their lives in a legalyl allowed way from the shelves. We should also raise a voice of concern about it, not only on a single substance as marijuana that follows us since the beginning of time.

Stephen Daniel
Stephen Daniel

Tobacco causes cancer if chewed or smoked. Marijuana kills cancer eaten or smoked. This is scientifically proven and can not be disputed. NIDA has studied marijuana for decades and knows very well the ill effects of marijuana. NIDA proved marijuana does not cause cancer already. http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/10/study-smoking-marijuana-not-linked-with-lung-damage/    NIDA's job is to study the harms of marijuana and they have been doing that. So basically Nora Volkow is admitting that her office, NIDA, can not find anything to keep the whole plant in schedule 1, the most dangerous category, making marijuana more dangerous than cocaine and meth. If her and the other government agencies that rely on wasted tax dollars, a fiscal black hole, digging ditches and filling them back up with the same dirt with no output, but ruining people's lives along the way, succeed, millions of teenagers will have access to marijuana easier than alcohol. This is the case with prohibition and this is been happing for decades. When I was in high school it was hard to find someone to buy alcohol but super easy to get marijuana. So if Nora Volkow is correct on the supposed study of teenagers having lower IQs then she should be for legalization to get the drug out of the black market, off the streets, away from children to protect them and allow the citizens of the United States raise their children the right way, without them having the opportunity to use marijuana, as is the case today with prohibition. The truth is, all of the drug agencies, the DEA, NIDA, ONDCP, SWAT, local police, are all addicted to the illegal money seized from raids and all the tax dollars they waste. Unfortunately for many people they will soon be losing their job. I believe in taxes but not waste as most Americans would agree.

vaivhav todi
vaivhav todi

This lady looks so bald and depressed. She needs to smoke some maybe!! Get high..

Kenri Basar
Kenri Basar

As a lay person, it is not very hard to see the effects of Marijuana users. It doesn't take detail tests to see the effects. The heavy user's behaviour and speech are often incoherent and they seems to waste a good deal of time being high. Also most often they are unhygienic and choose lifestyle which is harmful to them. This especially is very harmful for the younger generations who should be competing out there to make best use of their time and youth. It definitely makes you less productive and in the long run it can be very harmful to the entire nation! It should certainly be never legalized. 

Rodolfo Alonzo
Rodolfo Alonzo

I do not know the number of cancerous materials that are natural in tobacco. I do know the companies put 7000 cancerous materials in them. There are 11 cancerous materials in pot. And nobody is adding poisons. During Prohibition, the public wanted it. In America it was illegal. So if you moved it you were a Gangster. In Canada they supplied our thirst for good whiskey. They were businessman. Ever been to Niagara Falls. Look toward the beautiful city of Toronto. Then look at the beautiful city of Niagara Falls. Pot is decriminalized in Canada. Maybe we should take notes from our neighbors from the North. Colorado is gonna be looking like Toronto. And all they gotta do is act naturally. Unless Obama cuts it loose then. If they vote it State by State. My State will come in last place. Pot is not addictive. But it is relaxing.

Eric Sorensen
Eric Sorensen

The purposeful ignorance displayed by the NIH director and other so-called health "professionals" does a great disservice to those who could be helped by the medicines in cannabis. "We don't know all the effects..." is about as lame an excuse for maintaining the status quo as I've heard. We DO know the harmful effects of incarceration, and of stigmatization based on lies and distortions.

Full federal legalization is the only way to begin to address the shameful racist legacy of this law. The time for change is NOW.

Adelynn Anderson
Adelynn Anderson

It should never be legalized, too many risks for teens. People say you can't get addicted? That's utter crap.

Jeff McClellan
Jeff McClellan

Very disappointing for Nat Geo to run this. I expect more. NIDA has always had a vested interest in keeping marijuana prohibited.

Mark Fergerson
Mark Fergerson

Yes, we desperately need research into marijuana's effects, but its legal status for nearly a century has prevented any such research other than that intended to demonstrate how harmful it is. Yes, there's a profit-oriented business community being built around trafficking in it, but may I point out that it already exists in the form of international drug cartels? If for no other reason, it should be decriminalized in order to get the criminals out of it.

  I will also point out that marijuana was fully legal in most of the world until Hearst et. al. lobbied to criminalize it in the U. S., and the political power of the U. S. forced most other nations to follow suit.

  I'll add another anecdotal marijuana story- I'm a 61-year old male with Asperger's syndrome (and associated ADHD). If it weren't for marijuana I could not have graduated High School, served in the USAF, married, and had kids and grandkids who I now support with a full time job.


  Marijuana is NOT for everybody any more than whisky is, but it should not be the bugaboo it has been caricatured to be.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

NIDA is one of the institutions complicitous in the suppression of research into cannabis, so for National Geographic to run "NIDA's Director Tells Us What We Know—and Need to Know—About Marijuana" tars it with the same brush.  There is a vast population of parasites who derive their livelihoods, directly or indirectly, off of Prohibition, and we are tired of hearing their self-serving cant.  Prohibitionists always seek to exploit children -- mark well which supposed champions of public health or children's health so much as mention cannabis, because what we do know suggests that it is inconsequential in comparison with real threats such as tobacco.  ~435,000 Americans die every year from the effects of an addiction many acquired as children in or near their schools, in part due to societal indifference about the transfer of tobacco to minors; no mortality at all can now be attributed to the use of cannabis.  By all means study cannabis, but first fire everyone who has any stake in keeping cannabis illegal -- Good-bye, Collins and Volkow!

Nunuv Yerbizness
Nunuv Yerbizness

Marijuana made me feel paranoid; I learned to discount that feeling, and in turn, to better cope with and lower my non-stoned-state paranoia and anxiety. So I consider the effect therapeutic in individuals with paranoid anxiety. Cigarette usage among schizophrenics has been studied, and I believe the current working hypothesis is that nicotine helps sufferers cope with the disassociation of schizophrenia. So in the case of nicotine, the assumption is that nicotine is therapeutic. OK, so why not assume--or at least study--whether marijuana used by the potentially mentally ill is a coping/therapeutic agent? My son suffers from depression and uses marijuana (his therapist is aware). In my opinion, the marijuana he smokes is a mild antidepressant and complements his medication.


I realize these are just two anecdotal instances, but based on my experience I think the subject needs to be studied much more fully.

David Driscoll
David Driscoll

There's nothing here. The agency responsible for reclassifying MJ won't/doesn't do extensive research on the use of marijuana. This women keeps talking about teens being exposed to potentially more problems but legalization is for ADULTS. Nobody has gone to the hospital with a MJ overdose but that happens everyday w. alcohol. Cut the crap and deal with just like alcohol. The revenue for states is going to move this forward.

Brian Kelly Bizzle
Brian Kelly Bizzle

Everyone knows N.I.D.A is the same bias government organization that has dedicated itself to waging war an marijuana,  lied about marijuana for decades while suppressing all positive research on marijuana. 


They are one of the few fear mongers left and and can't be taken seriously when it comes to marijuana.  


There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.


The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority of Americans.. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.


Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.


Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.


With their credibility shattered, and their not~so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, whats left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do? 


Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!


Legalize Nationwide!...and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

Red Fox
Red Fox

@Mat S Your comment is ignorant and just shows how partisan you are.  Also, what are your credentials--few people know the actual science of marijuana as well as Dr. Nora Volkow. 

Red Fox
Red Fox

@Stephen Daniel What statistics?  And from what source?  I can tell you that my experience as a mental health professional did see an increase in schizophrenia among teens who were using marijuana and particularly among those who had experienced severe anxiety or paranoia after using it.    

Terminology Breakdown
Terminology Breakdown

@Stephen Daniel  

That's true, and there is only anecdotal evidence that shows that marijuana use by those with mental illnesses may exaggerate those mental illnesses, but you could say the same of many things that could affect a mental ill person in a negative way.  Compared to other addiction or drug abuse issues, marijuana is much less of a worry than say heroin or crack, or even alcohol for that matter. 

Red Fox
Red Fox

@Stephen Daniel Your rambling diatribe is nothing more than pop-commentary and void of any actual science!

Red Fox
Red Fox

@Gary Robinette The legal yet mass marketing of tobacco was a public health disaster and big tobacco is waiting for a redux with marijuana.  The usage will far exceed what it is today under the false guise of being safe with a 'legal' stamp of approval by state governments.  Many people believed cigarettes to be safe for many decades because there were some ignorant doctors who used and advertised for the tobacco companies.   

Denniss Giesbrecht
Denniss Giesbrecht

@Rodolfo Alonzo  pot is NOT decriminalized in Canada, but there is a more tolerant view of it, and those found with very small amounts are not usually charged.

matt k
matt k

@Adelynn Anderson there are no addictive substances found in marijuana smoke not utter crap scientific fact adelynn as well as the studies that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that alcohol is 1000 times worse for you than pot. Yet I see bars and liquor stores all of the country. Sounds like you haven't read up on it but don't take my word for it just look at other countries where it is legal, they haven't imploded yet and neither will the US. ok done rambling

Brian Kelly Bizzle
Brian Kelly Bizzle

Great points Robert. I'd like to add:


Regarding "The Children",


What message are we sending our children when it is easier for them to obtain marijuana now with it being illegal than it is for them to buy alcohol?


It doesn't take the intellect of a genius to understand that stores card kids for I.D.. Thugs and gang members do not. They also push the real hard drugs on children. Stores do not.


  Marijuana legalization will make it harder for children to obtain it.


  What message does it send our children when the President of The United States himself alongside a long list of successful people openly admit regular pot use at one time or another in their lives?


While we tell our kids how it will ruin their futures, and then insure so, by allowing our government to to jail  our children and give them permanent criminal records when they get caught with a little Marijuana. Especially if they are the wrong skin color or from the "wrong neighborhood". Which in turn, ruins their chances of employment for life.


  The Prohibition of Marijuana is the wrong message to send our children while we glorify, advertise and promote the much more dangerous use of alcohol like it's an all American pastime. 


  The worst thing about marijuana and our children is what happens to them when they get caught up in the criminal justice system due to it's prohibition. 


Protect  "The Children" and Our Neighborhoods Through The  Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Nationwide!


Brian Kelly Bizzle
Brian Kelly Bizzle

@Nunuv Yerbizness  .


Not studied long enough, you claim? Did you know Marijuana is perhaps the most studied therapeutic substance on Earth? It's true:


"Despite the US government's nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the last five years according to a keyword search on PubMed Central, the US government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research. Over 1,450 peer-reviewed papers were published in 2013 alone. (By contrast, a keyword search of "hydrocodone," a commonly prescribed painkiller, yields just over 600 total references in the entire body of available scientific literature.)"


http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-one-most-scrupulously-researched-drugs-known-humanity-media-likes-pretend-pots

Let's Open Our Eyes, End The Lies, and Legalize Nationwide!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

@Brian Kelly Bizzle biased -- N.I.D.A. is a biased organization.  Not everyone knows it; we should elaborate for the benefit of National Geographic's readers, who might be misled by National Geographic.

Jo Tierney
Jo Tierney

The drug isn't addictive but the desired effect of being stoned is. As a mental health worker I see the effects of cannabis use on young people every day. Susceptible individuals and drug induced psychosis (particularly cannabis and derivatives) are commonplace in mental health units.

Rodolfo Alonzo
Rodolfo Alonzo

To relax! The movie Reefer Madness made me laugh. It probably scared you straight. I feel you are debating about something you know very little about. Oh Canada.

Mark Fergerson
Mark Fergerson

@Jo Tierney As a mental health worker you have a foreshortened view of the negative side-effects of marijuana use; every day you are bombarded with case after case of people's lives disrupted by congenital mental conditions exacerbated by self-medication with alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. The results are horrific, of that there is no doubt. But please consider that outside your workplace you are surrounded by tens of thousands of "closeted" users who display no negative symptoms- rather they go about their lives happily and productively. You meet users every day but don't know it. They may be friends, neighbors, even close relatives. This should tell you that what you see in your professional capacity is correlation, not causality. Alcohol's "desired effect" is equally addictive and equally liable to produce psychosis in those predisposed to it. Do you support reviving Prohibition?

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