The Truth About Marijuana Addiction

More Americans are smoking pot than ever before. As the number of cannabis consumers rises, people are revisiting an age-old question: is marijuana addictive?

Writer Annie Lowrey takes up the subject in the latest issue of the Atlantic. After speaking with a number of experts, she concludes that, while cannabis is far less dangerous than other drugs, there is a habit-forming element that should not be ignored.

For Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, the most compelling evidence of the deleterious effects comes from users themselves. “In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke it say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it. I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’ There are plenty of people who have problems with it, in terms of things like concentration, short-term memory, and motivation,” he said. “People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”

This is by no means a case for marijuana criminalization.

“The big-picture view is that the vast majority of people who use cannabis are not going to be problematic users,” said Jolene Forman, an attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’re not going to have a cannabis-use disorder. They’re going to have a healthy relationship with it. And criminalization actually increases the harms related to cannabis, and so having a strictly regulated market where there can be limits on advertising, where only adults can purchase cannabis, and where you’re going to get a wide variety of products makes sense.”

But at the very least, Lowrey writes, users should be aware of the risks associated with excessive use. And the rest of us should be honest about the potential for addiction.

Read the entire article here


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