When Fulla Nayak, one of the oldest women in India died in May 2011, her death opened the much controversial debate of the use of marijuana. Nayak passed on at the age of 125 years, but not before admitting that she attributed her long life to daily puffs of weed. As soon as this piece of news was picked by local media outlets, it immediately went viral with marijuana lovers all around the world retreating into lobby groups and trying to persuade their respective authorities to legalize the substance.
As it were, all appeared rosy with the use of this substance until a few days ago when a study published by JAMA Psychiatry revealed what certain facts that would make marijuana lovers want to think carefully before using the drug. In this study, it was discovered that continued use of this substance could lead to increased risk of developing alcohol and drug use disorders, including but not limited to nicotine dependence. In layman’s terms, users of marijuana have a higher propensity for developing cravings for other more dangerous drugs.
Mr. Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of the Columbia University Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York among other co-authors claim that there is much credibility in the findings of this study due to the fact that about 34,653 respondents were interviewed three years apart in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. According to Mr. Olfson, this is a period long enough to warrant credible and conclusive studies on a dynamic issue such as the usage of marijuana.
However, as is always the case, the study did not find everything damning about this drug. For instance, there was no association of Marijuana with increased risk of developing mood oscillations or anxiety disorders, which take us back to the most elusive question about this substance, “to legalize or not”? There is no denying the fact that these conflicting findings will only serve to perpetuate the controversial debate on marijuana, with proponents and opponents of the debate tagging at each other.
As pundits advance this discourse in various forums, we can only wait and see whether many more states in the US or around the world will see more good or ill in this substance and either legalize it or impose more legislative conditions against it. All we can conclude from the JAMA Psychiatry publication is that we may just keep discovering more beneficial as well as hazardous features of this substance for much longer.