Is marijuana addictive? That question has been debated by researchers, policymakers, and ordinary people for years. If you’re a medical marijuana user, or if you’re thinking about starting to use medical marijuana, you probably want to know the truth.
This issue is still hotly contested, and we don’t have a definite answer yet. However, current research seems to indicate that medical marijuana is safe to use. Keep reading to learn more about medical marijuana, addiction, and why you’re unlikely to get addicted to weed.
The Debate over Medical Marijuana and Weed Addiction
Medical marijuana is becoming increasingly popular and accepted by mainstream society. Today, the majority of states in the U.S. have passed some kind of law permitting the use of medical cannabis, though the details of these laws vary widely from one state to another. Despite this wave of legalization, medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and has a large number of opponents.
Marijuana addiction is one of the main issues that opponents of legalization bring up. These people argue that cannabis has a high potential for abuse and that there isn’t enough evidence for its medical usefulness. But is marijuana addictive in reality? As time goes on and more researchers are able to legally study the medical effects of weed, this position is losing ground.
Why Do People Use Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is not a new idea. In fact, people have been using marijuana medicinally for thousands of years. In ancient India and China, where the cannabis plant originated, weed was originally smoked as a remedy for pain and other chronic conditions. As time went on and cannabis spread around the world, more cultures started using it for its healing benefits.
Today, people still use cannabis for chronic pain, but we’ve also discovered that it’s good for a lot more than that. Weed helps to relieve anxiety, nausea, and inflammation, among other things. One of its main components, CBD, has been proven to treat severe pediatric seizures. Preliminary research even shows that marijuana may kill certain kinds of cancer cells.
What Is Addiction?
Is weed addictive? To answer that question, it’s important to understand what addiction is. The NIH defines addiction as a mental disease that’s characterized by compulsive drug use. Someone with an addiction uses drugs excessively, even though it causes problems with their everyday functioning. They may lose jobs and relationships or drop out of school because of their drug use. An addict knows their drug use is a problem but feels unable to stop using.
It’s important to note that addiction is not the same thing as dependence. Someone is dependent on a drug when their body adjusts to it. When this happens, it takes more of the drug to achieve the same effect, and the person suffers withdrawals without the drug. Addiction, on the other hand, refers to the psychological component of compulsive drug use. An addict may or may not be dependent on their drug of choice, but either way, they cannot stop using it.
Can You Get Addicted to Weed?
Weed addiction is a controversial topic. Some people argue that it’s not possible to get addicted to cannabis. In recent years, however, that theory has been called into question. It’s now generally accepted that about ten percent of habitual cannabis users become dependent on the drug.
Some people use this statistic to defend the idea that medical marijuana should be banned. However, it’s important to get some perspective on this figure. First, a ten percent addiction rate is low compared to other drugs, especially other Schedule I drugs. Second, it’s important to distinguish physical dependence from psychological addiction. Many of the people who habitually smoke cannabis remain functional and productive members of society. Not everyone who is dependent can be considered an addict.
It’s also important to note that, while cannabis may have some addictive potential, it’s still considered less harmful than other socially acceptable drugs, like alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana is less harmful to the lungs than cigarettes, and, unlike alcohol, it poses no overdose risk. People who use weed to treat their pain are also less likely to get addicted to opioid painkillers, which are much more harmful and dangerous.
Is Marijuana Addiction Possible for Medical Users?
Keeping all this in mind, can you get addicted to weed if you’re a medical marijuana patient? The odds are low for a couple of reasons.
First, many medical marijuana patients don’t use weed every day. You may only need to turn to cannabis when your pain flares up or when you can’t fall asleep, for instance. Not using weed every day cuts down on your risk of developing either physical dependence or an addiction.
Second, even if you do develop a physical dependence on medical marijuana, there’s no reason to assume it will turn into an addiction. This is especially true because many medical marijuana patients are older, and the risk of developing an addiction to marijuana decreases with age, regardless of dependence. Compare it to coffee dependence: plenty of people get withdrawal symptoms like headaches if they don’t have their daily cup of java, but most of those people don’t neglect their jobs or families to get their caffeine fix.
Is weed addictive? Based on what we know now, the answer seems to be, “Sometimes.” However, that doesn’t mean medical marijuana is unsafe to use. Most people aren’t at high risk for developing an addiction to weed in the first place, and many medical marijuana patients are at lower risk still.
The verdict seems to be that medical marijuana is safe to use – indeed, safer than many of the alternatives. However, if you use cannabis on a regular basis, it’s important to stay informed on the latest research, so you can keep making the best decisions for your health and well-being.
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