In a world that is progressively concerned with science and prevention of diseases and other illnesses, the role of drugs has become ever more crucial. What is interesting, however, are the ‘facts’ that become pertinent to popular belief; glorified myths, if you will, of certain drugs and their effect both on the physical and mental health of the human being. Many of us are happy, when not feeling the best, to go to the doctor and get a prescription of a pill even your GP can’t pronounce the name of and guzzle 2 down with a Mountain Dew, often oblivious to the laundry list of side effects printed in size 6 font on the back of the box. Doctors orders, right? Trust in the doctor is essential here, and that’s perfectly fine. But what about illegal drugs? There are some studies for them, but their illicit nature proves a hurdle in keeping these constant, so what remains is myths and heresay as to the effects of the drug and its impact on health.
Cannabis is one of these drugs, and has more myths tied to it arguably than any other given it is often the most widely used illegal drug in any given country (A 2007 study showed 10% of the Australian population had smoked cannabis in the past year). Many people I have spoken to hold the belief that cannabis has been scientifically proven to be bad for your health, is addictive or is a lot stronger today and therefore more harmful. For those so inclined to believe such propaganda that was put forth by the US Government in the 1960’s and 70’s and has unfortunately stuck, this article is a short read and a great start for you. For those of you who want something a little more recent, the internet was flooded yesterday with articles relating to a new study regarding cannabis use that thankfully, just gives us the facts.
The study, which was a combination of efforts by the Boston University School of Medicine and researchers at the Boston Medical Center, honed in on 589 adults who were positively identified as having used recreational drugs in routine checkups. The research found that 84% had used marijuana recently, 58% of which used marijuana and no other drugs. It was ideal to know other drugs in the mix here, as researchers did not want to blame health effects on one specific drug if it had been take in conjunction with others. What was found, however, says head author Daniel Fuster, MD, is that “our findings suggest that marijuana use has little measurable effect on self- reported health or healthcare utilization”. This also documented the frequency of use, which did not change the facts presented.
Such evidence produced here is positive and a step in the direction of raising awareness around the issue of cannabis as an illegal drug. The fact that alcohol and cigarettes remain legal despite the constant reporting of their detrimental effects to health and well-being means that more research needs to be done to consolidate the case and change popular opinion around the drug. For recreational users, this is something solid to go off, though it would be interesting to see a study where cannabis users are compared against those that abstain from any recreational drugs.