What Do The Experts Say About Marijuana?
Bad news people: Weed is addictive.
Isn't it? That's what they say anyway.
The debate has raged furiously for years, over a spectrum of demographics from the keyboard warrior to the political arena, but most experts now unanimously agree, that to an extent, cannabis can lead to dependence issues. According to a 2013 survey done by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, (NIDA), that year almost 10% of America's population got high. 30% is roughly the number of people that develop an addiction to marijuana and may need extensive treatment, and studies indicate that 44% of Americans have smoked pot at least once.
Research also indicates that people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop an addiction. The Institute also states that out of the 6.9 million Americans abusing illicit drugs in 2013, 4.9 million (71%) were marijuana dependent.
If you're part of the percentage that gets hooked on marijuana, some of the withdrawal symptoms you'll experience are grouchiness, sleepiness and cravings- according to the NIDA website.
With these experts at NIDA predicting the number of marijuana addicts to remain continually on the rise, the looming prospect of dangerous weed addicts on the lurk whose withdrawal symptoms sound like a case of raging pms are a frightening possibility. Before we listen to their statistics on marijuana addiction, however, we should probably ask ourselves, “Who exactly are NIDA and why should we even listen to them in the first place?”
As it so happens, that's a valid question. There are droves of people regurgitating enormous amounts of information provided by NIDA, most of the time completely oblivious as to where their “facts” have been sourced.
The fact is that most of what you believe about marijuana probably comes from NIDA funded studies. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funds 85% of the planets officially approved research about the aspects of drug abuse and addiction.
Specifically, NIDA is a federal institution, established in 1974, whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction," by funding approved research. In short, by congressional mandate NIDA has been tasked with gathering and compiling information that reflects the harmful effects of marijuana. Quite simply, it is their job to tell you why cannabis is dangerous and shouldn't be used.
The organization has been accused of misconduct by several parties and has been the focus of intense scruple by journalists, health professionals and government watchdogs around the globe amidst allegations of publishing contradictory statements, supporting false research and delaying the release of unfavorable studies, seemingly to sway public opinion on hot issues current at the time of the findings.
Seem like a trustworthy source?
A prime example of how the institute promotes only research it favors can be found in the 80’s and 90’s when researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health found that dopamine plays only a marginal role in marijuana's psychoactive effects. Years later, however, NIDA educational materials continued to warn of the danger of dopamine-related marijuana addiction.
One might think that The National Institute on Drug Abuse only has interest in sharing statistics that might excuse it's 1.05 billion dollar yearly budget; a number that is justified by this statement, "By conservative estimates, every $1 spent on drug addiction saves society $4 to $7 in criminal justice and health care costs", which points to the need for spending funds on effective prevention and treatment programs based on evidence, rather than criminal sanctions that do not impact drug use.”
How does NIDA appropriate it's exorbitant budget to “lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction?"
Jag Davies of The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), give us a hint about it by mentioning this about appropriating cannabis for study from NIDA:
“Currently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has a monopoly on the supply of research-grade marijuana, but no other Schedule I drug, that can be used in FDA-approved research. NIDA uses its monopoly power to obstruct research that conflicts with its vested interests. MAPS had two of its FDA-approved medical marijuana protocols rejected by NIDA, preventing the studies from taking place. MAPS has also been trying without success for almost four years to purchase 10 grams of marijuana from NIDA for research into the constituents of the vapor from marijuana vaporizers, a non-smoking drug delivery method that has already been used in one FDA-approved human study.”
So, under questionable practice, not only does NIDA regulate 85% of worldwide research, but they are also directly responsible for regulating the flow of legal marijuana in the country, at the federal level. (And they are apparently rather picky with a four year waiting list.)
Yup, seems legit.
Rob Kampia of Marijuana Policy Project put it best in a 2002 press release by putting it this way, “The government reaches that exact same conclusion regardless of whether drug use is going up, down, or staying the same. If use is going up they say, 'We're in a drug abuse emergency; we need to crack down harder.' If use is going down, they say, 'Our strategy is working; we need to crack down harder.' A cynic might think they had made up their minds before even looking at the data.”
It's important as an advocate for marijuana, to honestly examine all of it's properties and conclude whether they are beneficial or not and part of this process of examination is eliminating the bullshit, which we have just done.
Are there risks associated with pot?
Sure, smoking weed comes with risks, but the facts behind the sketchy figures telling us what those risks include are dubious at best.
Don't judge a book by it's cover and all that jazz... it's what they say anyway….
Gotta run for now.
James Munroe (as part of my series, Throught The Eyes Of A Stoner, published on Cannabis.net)