Many people, especially on this campus, have either smoked weed or know someone who smokes. In many cases, it is not a problem at all, just a drug that can lead to a night of goofy fun that happens to be illegal (for now). However, there comes a point where weed can become something more than a harmless vice.
Weed addiction is a different animal than other addictions. It is not physically addictive like alcohol or opioids, and it is not as dangerous as those drugs. There has never been a reported death from a marijuana overdose, after all. However, there is a much more subtle way people can become addicted to weed.
The problem with marijuana is that when people use it too much and too often, they adjust their behavior to accommodate it. They become dependent on it, and this can lead to withdrawal symptoms, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. People can still develop cravings for it and become irritable when they do not smoke. The NIDA identifies this as marijuana use disorder.
When you cannot go a day without smoking, you may be under the effects of this disorder. Many people who smoke a lot of weed find that it starts interfering with many aspects of their lives. For instance, they may need it before bed to help them sleep, or they may need it to help them do homework. Smoking weed in order to help you relax or focus is not inherently bad, but when you find yourself needing to do it every day, that may be crossing the line from a harmless vice to addiction.
I’ve known people who find themselves in the routine of smoking every day. While it may not be as harmful as an addiction to other drugs like opioids, marijuana addiction is definitely a real thing. Whenever you bring up maybe taking a break from the drug for a bit, many regular smokers get defensive about it. I’ve heard “I can stop whenever I want!” many times. But the fact is that weed can be harmful to your life if you use it too much. Sometimes people drive while high, or are perpetually stoned to the point where they can no longer take things seriously. It is a problem that gets swept under the rug and ignored too much. Weed is not a drug as harmful as cocaine or heroin, but that does not remove the fact that it can interfere in people’s lives. Like anything else, if you choose to smoke, it should be done in moderation. If you find yourself craving the feeling of being high, you may have a problem.
I’m not saying weed is inherently bad and should not be used. It has beneficial medical purposes and can actually reduce anxiety or help you do work. But the fact is that it can still be abused, and you may not even realize you are abusing it because it is so accepted nowadays. There has to be a distinction between using it in a healthy way and an unhealthy way that borders on addiction. Hopefully, if weed is legalized in the future, there will be more public education regarding it. This way, people will be more aware of better ways to use marijuana.
Ben Crnic is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.