Marijuana Myths and Fallacies
Marijuana is one of those phenomena shrouded in myths and half-truths, and perhaps extreme exaggerations even on both sides. However, the research has been accumulating over the past decade attesting to the underlying truths of the harms of marijuana, and disproving many of the pro-marijuana, streetlore myths that have survived over these past 50 years.
Clearly, these "half-truths" about marijuana presented as “facts”, are spuriously presented to defend drug use and to try to justify full legalization. The danger is that sometimes there is an element of truth underlying the claim, but when one thinks them through very carefully, one finds they are myths and fallacies – i.e., taken out of context, and built upon faulty logic which does not stand when confronted with the true research, facts, and experience. It is important to expose these myths for what they really are.
Here are some of the most common Marijuana Myths and Fallacies:
(1) MYTH: MARIJUANA NEVER “KILLED” ANYONE.
This myth is based solely upon a comparison of marijuana with other drugs, and a belief that as marijuana does not show the “acute toxic properties” that will lead to immediate death by overdose (poisoning) it has not actually “killed” anyone. The problem is that this is comparing apples to oranges. There are many other ways to die other than by immediate acute toxicity.
A limousine driver in New York crashed a car that killed 20 of his passengers; he was high on a significant amount of THC at the time of the accident. A 6-year old girl drowned in the Erie Canal as her guardians sat in a parked car smoking marijuana instead of watching her. A 22 year-old man died of a heart attack after smoking a large amount of marijuana. Marijuana related suicide is on the rise. Marijuana related cancer, heart disease, and lung disease are realities. And the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database shows that more than 1,000 people “who died between 1999 and 2016 had cannabis or cannabinoids — and no other drugs — listed on their [death] certificates as a secondary cause of “death by poisoning,”
Again, while there are few cases of human “acute toxicity to the point of death by marijuana overdose”, the fact is that as a drug marijuana has destroyed many lives – with many ending up dead, and many more in chronic deterioration of the quality of life and with years of potential life lost. In fact in one major study, those treated for addiction to cannabis had a higher mortality rate than controls (3.85 times higher), and a higher mortality rate if compared to the death rate risk of cocaine use disorder (2.96), or alcohol use disorder (3.83.)
So try telling the mother of that young suicide victim that marijuana had nothing to do with his death. The only relevant fact is that her son never exhibited any signs of depression or confusion or anxiety or paranoia or social isolation, before he began smoking marijuana.
(2) MYTH: MARIJUANA IS NOT ADDICTIVE.
The myth that marijuana is not addictive has a historical perspective, as the marijuana most commonly used in the 60’s and 70’s had a (low) THC content of 1-to-3 percent. As such, it was commonly accepted that marijuana was “psychologically dependent, but not physically addictive.” Yet, animal studies did demonstrate physical addiction, and addiction experts saw physical addiction in treatment facilities, and parents certainly could see the addictive potential of marijuana.
As the THC content increased it became more apparent - and universally accepted - that marijuana was physically addicting, and addiction, unfortunately, became much more common.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse has classified marijuana as an addictive substance, ie., demonstrating both a tolerance and withdrawal syndrome with accompanying social, health and mental health complications. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, as a research psychiatrist and scientist has done cutting edge research and has pioneered the use of brain imaging to demonstrate the toxic effects and addictive properties of marijuana, including that marijuana addiction is a disease of the human brain. According to NIDA recent data suggest that between 9-and-17 percent of cannabis users can become addicted, and fully 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-V), classified cannabis dependence as an addiction, and provided standard nomenclature for the diagnosis of marijuana addiction (cannabis dependence). In addition, the DSM-V is coded and harmonized with the International Classification of Diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identified a plethora of adverse effects of marijuana use, including a “Cannabis Dependence Syndrome” characterized by a “loss of control over cannabis use.”
In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., released a ground-breaking report, “Facing Addiction in America”, where he identified Cannabis Addiction and the symptoms, process and brain components. In 2019, the next U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, in his “Advisory on Marijuana Use and the Developing Brian” also identified marijuana physical dependence and addiction, and stated that it was a function of exposure (use) of higher concentrations of THC.
Even the New York Department of Public Health in their Marijuana Assessment said that from 9-to-30 percent of users can become cannabis dependent! Think about it! Up to 30 percent of users can become ADDICTED!
No other substance has been studied so much. And the conclusion of numerous scientific studies is that, yes, cannabis is indeed a drug of addiction.
(3) MYTH: LEGALIZATION WILL BRING-IN STATE TAXES THAT CAN BE USED FOR SOCIAL PURPOSES:
The idea that legalization and taxation will generate surplus state funds for community schools, roads and social purposes is an excellent idea – except that it will not work.
There are three primary reasons why legalization is self-defeating in this scenario:
1) In a study on the economics of legalized marijuana, the Colorado University Centennial Institute calculated that Coloradans spend $4.57 for every $1 in tax revenue legal (recreational) marijuana generates. They found that the state of Colorado collects a total of $247,368,473 in tax revenue from the sale of legalized recreational marijuana, however, the total cost to society is estimated by researchers at $1,130,684,227 - in other words, for every $1 dollar raised in tax revenue Coloradans spent $4.57 to mitigate the negative social, health and personal effects of marijuana use.
Some of the findings included additional and increased costs from marijuana-related healthcare, academic underachievement and high school drop-outs, calls to Poison Control Centers and an increase in marijuana overdose and emergency room utilization, automobile accidents and accident fatalities, an increase in marijuana related suicide, and additional costs to the welfare system, the criminal justice system and the mental health system.
2) There is also abundant evidence that people are not buying marijuana from retail stores due to the high costs and taxes. They prefer to grow their own and save money.
3) The Black Market actually is thriving in the legalized states. With so much black-market product available, the demand for retail sales may be falling.
In either case, legalization has failed to be the state cash-cow that pro-marijuana proponents promised, and in fact has caused many secondary and related expenses which need to be taken into account in any cost-benefit analysis.
(4) MYTH: MARIJUANA IS SAFE BECAUSE IT IS A NATURAL SUBSTANCE:
Marijuana is a plant. While there are several basic types including, cannabis indica, cannabis sativa, cannabis ruderalis and hybrid, there are currently at least 779 cannabis strains that have been named and recognized by the marijuana community.
The trouble is that all plants are natural, but many are not recommended for consumption, i.e., poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, loco weed, hemlock, parsnip, hogweed, etc. These plants are all natural, but all have toxic properties and should be kept away from humans, dogs and cats, and are listed as toxic substances – including marijuana – by the Poison Control Centers.
Poison Control Centers are increasingly receiving calls for both Marijuana Overdose, as well as CBD overdose (THC free, yet still having side effects.) There has even been an increase in Pediatric Cannabis Intoxication calls and a substantial spike in emergency room visits as an unintended consequence of the decriminalization of marijuana. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2017, California’s Poison Control Centers received 588 calls regarding people under 19. More than 250 of those calls involved children ages five and under, and several were under 12 months.
And according to the Drug Abuse Warning System (DAWN – now defunded), "More than 455,000 patients entered hospital emergency rooms with marijuana in their system in 2011, a 19% increase from just two years earlier." Clearly, this demonstrates the health and safety dangers of marijuana use.
After a 12-year study, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) stated that marijuana can cause four primary cannabis-induced physical disorders: Lung Damage; Heart Disease; Cancer; and, Pregnancy Complications. The APA found that eight psychiatric mental disorders were caused by cannabis use, including: Anxiety Disorders; Depression; Bipolar Disorder; Schizophrenia; Amotivational Syndrome; Disruptive Cognitive Functioning; Neuropsychological Decline; and, Psychotic Disorders. And in terms of Comorbidity the APA found that between 50% and 90% of cannabis-dependent persons are diagnosed with an affective disorder, suicidality, or an anxiety disorder; and cannabis use is associated with poorer life satisfaction, increased mental health treatment and hospitalization, and higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, suicide attempts and conduct disorder. They also found that cannabis use is highly related to other secondary substance use disorders (74%), and is often quite commonly found with major depressive disorders (11%), and anti-social (30%), obsessive-compulsive (19%), and paranoid (18%) personality disorders.
Again, yes, marijuana may be a “natural plant”, but by definition the APA – and many other researchers and organizations - found that cannabis is a dangerous drug.
(5) MYTH: THE “WAR ON DRUGS” DIDN’T WORK
A major myth about marijuana, and a basis for the pro-marijuana push for legalization, is that the "War on Drugs has failed" and should be abandoned for a more humane "treatment" approach for marijuana addicts. Simply, the logic supporting this opinion is faulty, but unfortunately too many people are uninformed and buying into this 30 second sound bite.
As a comparison, look at the "War on Poverty" started by President Johnson in 1964. The official federal poverty rate at that time approximated nineteen percent. Today there is still an unacceptable level of poverty in the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but today the poverty rate has dropped to thirteen percent. But did the war on poverty fail? No. The strategies employed both effectively and significantly decreased the poverty rate for millions. It also raised the standard of living and quality of life for millions more although they may still remain in poverty, i.e., they have food, and in most cases shelter, and basic health coverage if needed. Tens of millions moved from absolute poverty to relative poverty. The "war" was only a descriptive term that encompassed a number of economic and social strategies and governmental interventions, and although it needs to be continued and strengthened, it had an overall significant success in improving the quality of life for millions of families.
Another example is the "War on Illiteracy." The problem with illiteracy and the associated social issues are tremendous, and that is why numerous presidents began to support reading programs, Head Start programs, remedial training programs, strengthening libraries, and curricula development initiatives beginning in 1985 (and even before). According to one study by the Department of Education, in 2003 the level of functional illiteracy in the U.S. was about 14 percent. Does this mean that the "War on Illiteracy" failed? Not at all. In fact, the level of "pure" illiteracy dropped significantly from the levels of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, there are increasing rates of school attendance, rising proportions of adults completing high school, and rising proportions attending college. Progressively fewer adults have limited their education to completion of the 8th grade which was typical in the early part of the twentieth century, and today, 86 percent of people are high school graduates, and 29 percent hold a 4-year college degree. The "war" on illiteracy has not been won, but certainly great gains have been made.
Similarly, the "War on Drugs" has seen great strides. The term "war," again, is a misnomer – a 10 second sound-bite, and people do not understand the full model. In truth, the term “War on Drugs” applies to a campaign with multiple strategies: the prohibition of illegal drug manufacturing, use, and distribution of those drugs; military aid and military intervention for supply side decreases - also called interdiction; local and state law enforcement and criminal justice strategies; legislation and policy initiatives; and funding for drug prevention and for drug treatment programs and associated housing and support services for demand side decreases. The so called "war" actually is comprised of all components. The war on drugs is not singular, but is a multi-pronged, multi-phasic strategy and not just a military operation.
But the term "war on drugs" was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by President Richard Nixon during which he declared drug abuse "public enemy number one." That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the "prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted", but that part did not receive the same public attention by the media as the term "war on drugs."
Of course the federal government supports drug abuse prevention and treatment programs and recognizes them as a vital part of the armamentarium of strategies for reducing drug use, but to be most successful this "war" does need a multi-faceted approach including local partnerships, international collaboration and yes, military operations.
Drug enthusiasts would have one believe, however, that all that is needed are treatment programs for those who do succumb to addiction. Most certainly treatment programs are a necessary component of a successful health policy, but as a stand-alone initiative treatment would be sure to fail as accessibility and availability of drugs increased.
As well, the question remains, did the "war" on drugs fail? The answer is a resounding "No!" Similar to poverty and illiteracy, this strategy be it called a war or a campaign or by any other name, was very effective in minimizing drug use and the associated health care, family, and social costs. The use of illegal drugs was at an all-time high in 1978. Since then, the combination of efforts at all levels - federal, state and local brought drug abuse down to a new low for modern society in 2006. This is especially encouraging since by its nature drug use is progressive and should have increased significantly over that same 35 year period. So instead of drug use increasing as analysts would have predicted to much higher levels, the overall drug policy strategy known as “the war on drugs” actually decreased drug abuse by over 50 percent.
Did the "war" totally eliminate drug abuse? No, but no strategy ever will. The goal for the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy and the war on drugs is to make significant and realistic progress in reducing these social ills - in no way can anyone defend with any degree of credibility that these three issues will ever be fully resolved.
Finally, the question remains is it worth the investment of billions of dollars? Again, the answer is yes. In the "War on Disease", the investment of billions of dollars helped to fight the three other most critical health problems for Americans: the cancer epidemic, heart disease, and diabetes. Although these, also, have not been eliminated great strides have been made and countless lives saved.
The "war" on disease also helps to minimize a host of other illnesses and diseases like muscular dystrophy and mental illness - and once in awhile this war helps to fully eradicate an illness such as polio. Similarly, the war on drugs also helps to minimize other social problems caused by drug use, minimize drug related health and mental health problems, drug related family dysfunction, drug related job loss, license loss, bankruptcy, it lowers business costs, and lowers any of a number of secondary drug related social problems. Anyone would fully agree that the war against disease and illness is one to continue to fund utilizing the public health model (addressing both the host, agent and environment.)
With that, the war against illiteracy, the war against poverty, and the war against drugs, similarly, need to be maintained. These are the wars our families need.
So why then is marijuana use returning again to higher levels?
The reason is because of a switch in federal anti-drug policy. In 2013, President Obama instructed Attorney General Eric H. Holder and the Justice Department "not to interfere with states wishing to legalize marijuana." This policy reversal by the President and federal government was a betrayal to families everywhere who depended upon the federal government for a rational policy for drug prevention and treatment. Many have stated that it was also a violation of federal law, and thus, that President Obama was both complicit and even an actor in an obstruction of justice. Nonetheless, it was a green light to marijuana activists and advocates as well as the marijuana industry to proceed full speed with full legalization, production, marketing, and distribution. Unfortunately, no one said, "Wait, maybe we should stop and think this through…. this is a powerful psychoactive drug that destroys individuals and families."
So for all practical purposes the Department of Justice was called off of marijuana enforcement, and the proponents of marijuana legalization welcomed it with open arms. It was now open season for the growth of the marijuana industry. Even the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), responsible for sound policy and practices across the nation, dropped marijuana as one of the annual Ten Goals for America’s Health.
Of course the result was obvious. After a significant decrease to all-time low levels of marijuana use throughout the country, without the focus and assistance of the federal government marijuana use (and abuse) began to climb once again to the levels we see today.
(6) MARIJUANA ISN’T AS BAD AS ALCOHOL OR TOBACCO... AND THEY ARE LEGAL.
The logic of this statement is misleading. It should read, "Why legalize, yet, another drug?" They are all poisons, albeit, in different ways. Which is worse: arsenic, strychnine, or cyanide? They are all dangerous, they just have different pharmacological mechanisms and actions. Marijuana also has toxic properties dependent upon the quantity and frequency of use, potency, quality and purity, synergistic effects with other substances, threshold levels, tolerance, genetic susceptibility, etc.
Independent of the status of alcohol or nicotine, marijuana as a stand-alone is a dangerous drug that warrants continued prohibition of use.
In an article published in the International Medical Journal Lancet, Drug Harms in the UK: A Multicriteria Decision Analysis, the authors compared 20 different drugs against 16 categories of harm – either as harm to self, or harm to society. Cannabis was ranked 8th of the twenty drugs studied, for drug harm to Self and to Society. Additionally, the study found that cannabis was associated with some 15-of- the-16 criteria of harm.
There were strong findings for cannabis related to economic costs to self and society, crime, drug related impairment of mental functioning, drug specific impairment of mental functioning, drug dependency, and drug related damage. Cannabis was also found associated with family adversity, loss of relationships, injury, etc.
A secondary finding from this study is that cannabis was found to be harmful not just to self - but also significantly so - to others. This finding directly contradicts marijuana folklore that cannabis use does not interfere with the rights, health, or quality of life of others.
While the study acknowledged that several drugs were more harmful than cannabis, it clearly demonstrated that cannabis is not a benign substance and is a substance that has negative results across the spectrum of criteria used for measuring harm – and that translates into a real reduction in the quality of life for self, family and society.
Thus, the question is not “Which is worse?” The real question is why do we even consider legalizing another addictive and dangerous drug.
(7) OUR JAILS ARE OVERFLOWING WITH NON-VIOLENT MARIJUANA OFFENDERS.
This, too, is simply not factual. Since decriminalization has occurred in over half the states, and other states have reduced criminal penalties for marijuana convictions generally following a trend to reduce adverse consequences of some marijuana crimes, there are very few people actually sent to jail for “simple marijuana possession.”
Yes, people are still arrested for possession, but almost no one serves time for it.
In a recent study in a local jail in upstate New York, inmates were tested for marijuana intoxication at the time of arrest. Of some 232 inmates admitted in the course of one year, fully 93 had tested positive for marijuana upon admission. But as New York has decriminalized marijuana, these individuals were NOT arrested for simple possession but for marijuana related (caused) crime including domestic abuse and neglect, theft, robbery, assault, illegal gun possession, and other drug related crime. The fact is that some 45 percent of those arrested were under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crime or arrest - this is an epidemic – ad a fact hidden from most of society.
So in truth, the vast majority of those incarcerated are there because of the numerous offenses committed related to drug use, rather than for simple possession of marijuana. Imprisonment does include more serious drug offenses such as sale or distribution of drugs, but more so includes drug related stealing or burglary, or violent offenses including weapons possession. One analyst reported that 80 percent of all crime is drug related (i.e., crimes other than "simple possession") including marijuana. Indeed, the punishment should fit the crime, and both violent and non-violent marijuana-related crime indicates that this is the opposite of any justification for the legalization of drugs.
(8) MARIJUANA IS NOT A GATEWAY DRUG:
Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between marijuana use and progression onto other “harder” drugs.
In one publication in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs “The Shifting Importance of Alcohol and Marijuana as Gateway Substances Among Serious Drug Abusers”, researchers showed a trend of a common developmental pathway from use of alcohol as youths through possible use of marijuana as teens potentially leading to use of more serious substances as adults. Based on this model, alcohol and marijuana act as gateways, whereby persons who do not onset to alcohol rarely onset to marijuana; similarly, non-marijuana users rarely onset to more serious substance use and abuse. The results suggest that alcohol is not a prerequisite for progression to marijuana, but marijuana use nearly always precedes use of more serious substances such as cocaine, crack and heroin. Furthermore, with the growing prevalence of marijuana (since 1965) the importance of alcohol as a gateway to marijuana use appears to have declined and marijuana's role as a gateway to serious drug use appears to have increased.
And among other studies, research in New Zealand found that regular cannabis users were 60 times more likely to try other illicit drugs than young people who had never smoked cannabis.
And in an article published in the New York Times, “Marijuana Has Proven to Be a Gateway Drug”, author Robert L. DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, stated that “Marijuana use is positively correlated with alcohol use and cigarette use, as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. While this does not mean that everyone who uses marijuana will transition to using heroin or other drugs, it does mean that people who use marijuana also consume more, not less, legal and illegal drugs than do people who do not use marijuana.” The article also stated that people who are addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
(9) MARIJUANA IS MEDICINE:
In a recent poll youth were asked why they use marijuana. Many replied “Because it’s medicine – it must be good for you!” This shows that one of the reasons there has been an increase in marijuana use by youth is because the “perception of harm” of marijuana has decreased, and that there is a growing perception that marijuana is “good for you.”
The Media’s rush and the pro-marijuana push to rebrand marijuana as a silver bullet cure-all, has been incredibly successful in affecting attitudes about the drug – but in an inverted manner.
A 2017 poll found that 94 percent of Americans supported “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.” This despite the fact that, as one researcher found, only about 6 percent of users smoke pot for medical purposes. And even those medical benefits are dubious.
Medical marijuana is purported (and promoted) to cure everything from cancer to heart disease. But the truth is that people use it primarily for the intoxicating effects. In one study of 400,000 medical marijuana users in California, only 2% of those smoking marijuana under the guise of medicine have serious conditions such as AIDS, glaucoma and cancer; the others had ambiguous reasons for use.
And now as according to a 2017 report from the National Academy of Medicine, marijuana is useless in treating cancer. In fact, it might actually be associated with higher rates of cancer. The report also states that pot has no value in treating dementia, epilepsy, glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome, Lou Gehrig’s disease or Parkinson’s. It’s also no good for anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder, and may worsen those conditions. The only ailment it was found to treat was some chemotherapy-related nausea and spastic muscles associated with multiple sclerosis.
There are several FDA approved and regulated cannabis-based medicines such as Marinol and Cesamet, as there are medicines from opium such as morphine and codeine for the treatment of specific conditions. Marijuana components or constituents may have some medicinal use for specific conditions, but if so they should be explored and developed for those traits with legitimate pharmacological research under the auspice of the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) and not by legislative or political action.
Marijuana is not medicine, nor is it safe. In fact, many have become addicted and even suicidal simply by starting their marijuana journey thinking it was an effective medicine.
(10) LEGALIZATION WILL END THE BLACK MARKET:
Perhaps one of the most surprising findings is that the underground Black Market did not cease after legalization in the respective states that legalized marijuana, but actually is thriving and continuing to cause more crime and havoc than previously thought possible.
As many people now grow their own marijuana, people are selling it illegally on the black market for far less than the retail costs at licensed dispensaries. An ounce of one variety that might cost $840 legally, may sell for a few hundred dollars on the black market. This has actually created a thriving and dangerous underground, and one prosecutor stated that 75 percent of her time is spent solely on black-market cannabis cases.
In addition, legal marijuana has spurred the growth of gangs and gang violence. The County and City of Los Angeles are the “gang capital” of the nation. There are more than 450 active gangs in the City of Los Angeles with a combined membership of over 45,000 individuals. Gang membership in Los Angeles has continued to increase over the past five years and one of the major factors contributing to increased gangs and violence has been the lucrative marijuana and narcotics trade, with rival gangs vying for the greatest market share. Just during the last three years, there were over 16,398 verified violent gang crimes in the City of Los Angeles including 491 homicides, nearly 7,047 felony assaults, approximately 5,518 robberies and just under 98 rapes.
Legal-pot states are attracting international criminal cartels as well. Mexican drug gangs have smuggled illegals into Colorado to set up growing operations, former U.S. prosecutor Bob Troyer wrote last September, explaining why his office was stepping up enforcement. Rather than smuggle pot from Mexico, the cartels grow it in Colorado and smuggle it elsewhere—spurring violence. “Right now, the violence is marijuana or marijuana-related.”
In Nevada, which legalized pot by ballot initiative in 2016, violence surrounding pot has increased. “In 2017, homicides related to an altercation over drugs grew by 21 percent, compared to 2016,” Las Vegas police captain Todd Raybuck told a legislative hearing in New Jersey last year. “Marijuana was the cause of the altercation in 53 percent of those homicides. In 2017, 58 percent of all drug-related murders involved marijuana.”
Legalization definitely did not eliminate the Black Market – it fed into it.
(11) THE EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE WITH MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION HAS NOT BEEN DISRUPTIVE:
This, too, is false. Early on, the media portrayed the “Great European Experiment” as a welcomed breath of fresh air. The liberalization of marijuana in Northern Europe created images of philosophical discussions in marijuana coffee shops, and a casual euro-romance with the drug.
But the relaxation of drug laws and/or drug legalization in Europe has indeed been disruptive to the point that many social and human interest groups in Northern Europe have called for a return to the previous level of drug interdiction policies. In fact, the Netherlands has “progressed” even further, and is now a major producer and leading distributor not just of cannabis, but also heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and other synthetic drugs, and it remains a medium consumer of illicit drugs. It has also been reported that serious crimes remain drug related, and also that the number of "soft" drug cases related to marijuana is rising and currently accounts for 69% of criminal investigations.
In Amsterdam the liberal pot culture has spawned social problems from muggings to prostitution and hard drug use. The authorities there have reversed their liberal policies and have been tightening restrictions. They discovered that research shows that heavy pot-smokers are several times more likely than non-users to commit violent crime, and that marijuana use among young adults increased almost 300%. Now, the Dutch are retreating from their loose policies. They have recently closed hundreds of coffee shops, and today Dutch citizens have a higher likelihood of being admitted to treatment than nearly all other countries in Europe.
In a study published the journal Addiction, researchers from the University of Bath and King's College London, collected data from across 28 EU Member states, as well as Norway and Turkey by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Their findings show that concentrations of THC have increased over the years in Europe, and is now linked to greater long-term harms such as the development of cannabis dependence and an increased risk of psychotic illness.
Similarly, a study published in Lancet Psychiatry of 901 patients aged 18–64 years who presented to psychiatric services in 11 sites across Europe with first-episode psychosis, showed that patterns of cannabis use including daily cannabis use and high-potency cannabis, contributed to the onset of first-episode psychosis across Europe,
The World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting of experts on cannabis that led to the development of a report on the health consequences of cannabis use in 2015. The report evaluates the evidence on whether long-term cannabis use is a contributory cause of various health problems. As expected, the report identified a great number of cannabis-caused issues including cognitive impairment and mental illness, adverse physical health effects such as related cardiovascular events, social issues including DUI, academic underachievement and work performance issues, etc., and that cannabis dependence exists and is a cluster of behavioural, cognitive and physiological phenomena that develops after repeated cannabis use – the report also demonstrated indications that the prevalence of cannabis dependence has increased worldwide. According to one study, treatment demand for cannabis treatment has increased 76%.
Clearly, the European model of legalization is not without its share of cannabis-related problems and not the model that others should emulate.