The scary truth about marijuana’s risks

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Okay, there are some actual risks, but they really are pretty modest.  I’m pretty sure that if college students ran government, marijuana would be quite legal.  And I don’t think society would be any the worse for it.  Especially insofar as marijuana use substitutes for the much more social-damaging alcohol use.  Anyway, Aaron Carroll recently had a nice Upshot piece summarizing what we know about the actual risks of marijuana (as opposed to those imagined by Jeff Sessions and the other old white dudes watching Fox).  I’ll skip to Carroll’s conclusion:

Bottom line: Weigh pros and cons

Many of the harms we’ve discussed are statistically significant, and yet they are of questionable [substantive] significance. Almost all the increased risks are relative risks. The absolute, or overall, risks are often quite low.

We haven’t focused on the potential medical benefits here. But many people use pot — even rationally — for benefits they perceive to be greater than the harms we’ve listed.

We unquestionably need more research, and more evidence of harms may emerge. But it’s important to note that the harms we know about now are practically nil compared with that of many other drugs, and that marijuana’s effects are clearly less harmful than those associated with tobacco or alcohol abuse.

People who choose to use marijuana — now that it’s easier to do legally — will need to weigh the pros and cons for themselves.

So, should you just take up marijuana for the heck of it?  Probably not.  But if you use it in place of alcohol, it’s probably actually a good idea.  And one thing is for damn sure, it should not be a Schedule I illegal drug.

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