The Adverse Effects of Recreational Marijuana

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Recreational marijuana has been a social problem in the American population for millennia; however, its escalated consumption began in the early twentieth century, allegedly brought by illegal Mexican immigrants. Because of the adverse social effects and criminal activities associated with those who used to abuse recreational marijuana, the US government declared it illegal in the 1930s. Nevertheless, at the onset of the twenty-first century, most states have legalized recreational marijuana, and hence the substance is being planted, sold, and consumed legally within the states like Washington DC and Colorado. Furthermore, states like Michigan have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Recreational marijuana should not be legalized because of the adverse challenges it causes to the society, regarding economic, social, and public health concerns. Recreational marijuana is addictive. People who are addicted are susceptible to lung cancer. Furthermore, cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, high blood pressure, the low oxygen concentration in blood and angina have been reported among those addicted. The cost of buying recreational marijuana would also escalate because of the increased demand among consumers. Consequently, the level of poverty could rise among the victims of recreational marijuana abuse, because similar results have been reported among heroin, cocaine, and alcohol users. Because of the many harmful effects of recreational marijuana than its benefits, it should be made illegal. Nevertheless, recreational marijuana should not be made illegal because; it is the right of individuals to choose whether to consume or not, it has medical benefits for cancer, AIDs, and glaucoma, it is as harmful as alcohol and tobacco yet both have been legalized.


Also called the Cannabis indica plant, the Cannabis sativa

crop is the source of marijuana. Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, seeds, and stems of Cannabis sativa plant (Van Gerpen, Vik, and Soundy 59). The active substance in marijuana is a chemical called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though there are other chemical substances that have been scientifically confirmed in the laboratory like Nabilone and Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (Dodge 2). of all he illicit substances in the US marijuana is the most prevalent and hence the most abused. The widespread use of marijuana affects the youth more than other groups in the American population, with the those in the early adulthood consuming 19 percent more of the substance than those in the adulthood developmental age bracket (Cherry and Dillon 269).  In 2015 alone, it was estimated that approximately 11 million American youths between the age bracket of 18 years and 25 years of age abused marijuana (Van Gerpen, Vik, and Soundy 63). The rate of marijuana consumption in America has been fluctuating since the onset of the last decade, majorly among the middle aged population. Nevertheless, abuse of marijuana among high school students has been on the rise since 2011. The overall consumption of marijuana for recreational purpose has been on the decrease among youth between the age of 28 and 34 years, because of the awareness on the harmful effects of the substance (Dodge 22) . On the contrary, there is extreme uncertainty about the consumption rates of marijuana, considering the increasing number of states that are legalizing the recreational use of the substance among the adult populations. To exhaustively discuss the subject of recreational marijuana, it is not only essential to demystify the background information about the concept; but also imperative and in the best interest of this paper to explore the harmful effects of recreational marijuana and thus why it should be illegal.

 Background Information on Recreational Marijuana

The consumption of marijuana for recreational purpose in America escalated in the early twentieth century, and it was mostly a culture that was rampant among Mexican immigrants (Dodge 21). By the early1930s, marijuana had become a social problem in the American populations, and by 1936 the first movie named “Reefer Madness” was developed highlighting the antisocial behavior like violence and criminal habits that were characterized by those who abused marijuana for recreational purposes (Cherry and Dillon 270).  At a time when the American culture embraced alcohol for the elderly people, the consumption of marijuana is thought to have found platforms as an opportunistic substance that people abused at an increasingly higher rate than before, in the 1950s. Later on, the government, religious leaders, and other concerned parties in the private sector joined the effort to rebuke and demonize recreational marijuana because one, it was associated with the Mexican illegal immigrants; and two, marijuana had caused serious health and social issues in the American population by then (Dodge 32). Therefore, at the close of the twentieth century, recreational use of marijuana was not only socially and culturally unwelcome but also unlawful.

At the onset of the twenty-first century, the American government through policy development and in partnership with state leadership platforms declared recreational use of marijuana illegal and punishable; primarily because of the public health issues and the moral degradation associated with the drug. The escalated levels of crime like assault and violence were majorly associated with the production and distribution of recreational marijuana in the country.  Despite the federal government efforts to champion and advocate for the total ban on growth and consumption of recreational marijuana in the US, to date nine American states have voted in favor of the growth, selling, and use of recreational marijuana including Washington DC and Colorado (Wilkinson 526). Moreover, other states are discussing whether to legalize recreational marijuana or otherwise, most of which have already authorized the medical use of marijuana.

Marijuana is an addictive substance when used for a long time; hence it causes substance use disorders because, despite the social and health problems it causes to the user, he or she cannot stop using the drug. Evidence-based findings by Wilkinson (2013) confirm that 9 to 30 percent of Americans who consume recreational marijuana have the risk of developing an addiction. Furthermore, individuals who begin abusing recreational marijuana at the age of 18 or fewer years usually end up addicted to the substance by a 68 percent margin compared to those who start consuming the content in their adulthood (Wilkinson 526). After addiction, quitting is often impossible among 64 percent of the users because of the resultant symptoms like cravings, anxiety, sleeplessness, grouchiness, and decreased appetite.


Wilkinson (2013) findings indicate that by 2012, at least 3.8 percent of the world population, which translates to nearly 158.8 million people were using recreational marijuana, and the number is thought to have increased in future because of the continued legalization in some of the American states as well as the federal legalization in Canada. Moreover, 94 million people in America agree to have abused recreational marijuana at least once in their lifetime, and 2.1 million new cases of abuse of recreational marijuana are reported annually (Cherry and Dillon 269). By 2010, 6.7 percent of American youths aged between 12 to 17 years were actively using recreational marijuana (Van Gerpen, Vik, and Soundy 61). Research by Wilkinson (2013) estimates that American marijuana production has increased ten times more for the last 25 years to date, and as of 1981 the country produced 1000 metric tons but by 2006 10 thousand tons were produced. It has been estimated that annually, Americans who abuse recreational marijuana spent at least $12 billion,  and the cost are thought to escalate shortly because of the increased tax rates on the substance among states that have legalized its recreational consumption (Dodge 9). In 2013, of the cases reported at the emergency rooms in hospital centers, 242, 200 thousand were directly linked to marijuana consumption, and in the same year, it was estimated that 40 percent of the prisoners in the US judged with robbery, violence, and assault tested positive for the substance (Cherry and Dillon 272) . By 2014, it was confirmed through evidence-based research that Americans who began abusing recreational marijuana at the age of 15 and are now 26 years old or more, 62 percent of them started using cocaine, and 9 percent began using heroin, while 54 percent of them ended up falling addicted to metal drugs (Cherry and Dillon 270). Finally, it has been realized through statistical data by Wilkinson (2013) that after alcohol, recreational marijuana is the second drug often found within a possession by the drivers who day in road accidents in America. Therefore, recreational marijuana is not only an issue within the judicial segment of the government but also a challenge for the public health concerns in the country. Consequently, recreational marijuana should be made illegal because of the adverse effects it causes on the health and social life of those affected.

Just like nicotine, heroin, and alcohol, the consumption of recreational marijuana is intoxicating, and hence it causes adverse consequences in the health and economic as well as social lives of those who abuse marijuana. It has been confirmed that marijuana is both psychologically and epidemiological harmful, and that because of the increased use of drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroine, the adverse effects of marijuana are worsening in the population (Cherry and Dillon 272). The smoking or consumption of recreational marijuana for two or more times in a week predisposes the user to inevitable addiction, whose effects are dire to the physiological balance of the victim. On the contrary, considering that people smoke marijuana more than three times in a day because it has been legalized in some of the states like Colorado, the rate of addiction could be hired, and hence the negative impact of the drug on the community is getting worse. Furthermore, legalizing of recreational marijuana means more people will use the substance, and research shows that increases use of marijuana predisposes people to consume hard drugs like cocaine, which are even more dangerous to human health (Wilkinson 525). Compared to tobacco smoking, recreational marijuana has been said to have similar or worse effects on the lungs and other airways systems of the users. Indeed, an individual who smokes a pack of a cigarette within 24 hours develops lung cancer at the same rate as someone who smokes five or more recreational marijuana cigarette in seven days (Wilkinson 526). Therefore, recreational marijuana should be made illegal because of its harmful effects.

Increased consumption of recreational marijuana predisposes users to cardiovascular diseases. Marijuana reduces blood oxygen level because of the inefficient lungs, causes blood pressures, and finally triggers angina (Wilkinson 527). Furthermore, choric ailments like increased phlegm, wheezing, asthma, bronchitis, and coughing are reported in marijuana addicted patients. Brain development among adolescents is severely impaired because of recreational marijuana use. Furthermore, addiction in middle adulthood reduces memory, distorted motor coordination, and impaired learning abilities. Nonusers of recreational marijuana are less likely to commit crimes than those who abuse the substance, and hence using marijuana increases the crime rate from 1.5 to 3. one among youth in the population (Wilkinson 526). Because of money draining effect of recreational marijuana, just like other drugs, for instance, cocaine and heroin, people who abuse marijuana end up miserable and they tend to still from their families or within their neighborhood to use the stolen funds for purchasing marijuana for sustenance, especially among those addicted.

Recreational marijuana should be made illegal because its legalization would make the substance more expensive, and the consumers would be forced to pay more to satisfy their needs, hence driving a significant percentage of the population to bankruptcy. There are 80 million and 129 million tobacco and alcohol consumers in the US, while those who use recreational marijuana are 15.3 million, but the figure for recreational marijuana consumption would increase tenfold when made legal in the country (Cherry and Dillon 276). The subsequent increase would mean people will have to spend more because of the higher the demand, the more the pricing value attached to the product. Cases of families losing property to recreational marijuana addiction and students squandering school fees could undoubtedly escalate. Therefore, the negative impact of legalizing marijuana outweighs the benefits, and hence recreational marijuana should be made illegal.


Consumption of recreational marijuana should not be interfered with by the government because it is a personal choice. Hence people should enjoy their freedom to choose. It has been scientifically confirmed that tobacco and alcohol are equally harmful to human health, yet they have been legalized, this recreational marijuana should also be made legal (Dodge 19). For patients suffering from disorders like glaucoma, HIV/AIDs, and cancer, consumption of recreational marijuana has been said to have a positive impact on the prognosis of these patients. The escalating criminal behavior on the US and Mexican border is primarily caused by illegal buying, selling, and consumption of marijuana. Therefore, making this substance legal would eliminate all these criminal behavior.  Therefore, recreational marijuana would be allowed for legal use.


Marijuana is the dried leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of a crop called Cannabis

sativa. Recreational marijuana has adverse effects on human health, because of the active substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol it contains. Some of the adverse impact in addiction include cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancer of the lungs, and loss of memory. Furthermore, recreational marijuana leads to poverty among consumers because once they become addicted, they spent most of their time and money looking for and abusing the substance. Despite the disadvantages, recreational marijuana has medical advantages like improving the prognosis of HIV/AIDs, cancer, and glaucoma. Nevertheless, because of its more harm than benefits, recreational marijuana should be made illegal.

Works Cited

Cherry, Andrew L., and Mary E. Dillon. “Legalizing Marijuana and Its Effect on Adolescent Behavior and Health in the USA: Risk and Opportunity.” International Handbook on Adolescent Health and Development: The Public Health Response. N.p., 2016. 267–292. Web.

Dodge, K E. “Marijuana Legalization & Extension: A Growing Dilemma.” Journal of Extension 52.6 (2014): n. pag. Web.

Van Gerpen, S, T Vik, and T J Soundy. “Medicinal and Recreational Marijuana: What Are the Risks?” S D Med Spec No (2015): 58–62. Web.

Wilkinson, S T. “More Reasons States Should Not Legalize Marijuana. Medical and Recreational Marijuana: Commentary and Review of the Literature.” Mo Med 110.6 (2013): 524–528. Print.

August 21, 2023




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