Last updated: February 6, 2023
If you tell someone who approves of marijuana legalization that it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a drug they’re apt to downplay your statement. The majority of our society now deems marijuana as being a “harmless” drug because its effects are mild. Users have gained the reputation of being laid back and carefree. The only attack anyone needs to be looking out for would be the “munchies.” So, other than hiding your snacks, there’s nothing to worry about when people smoke pot…
We beg to differ.
There’s more to the story
The short-term side effects experienced while under the effects of marijuana may put someone—and others around them—in harm’s way. Understandably, employers find that fact concerning. That’s evident because even after legalization in their area, the majority of them are choosing to keep marijuana on the company drug test despite cries from advocates to remove it.
The short-term side effects of marijuana impairment are:
- Temporary memory loss—This side-effect could put the user and others in danger or cause problems in the workplace due to errors made and time lost.
- Lack of coordination—Someone tripping over their own feet or bumping into a co-worker at the wrong moment could have serious consequences. An injury accident could occur in the blink of an eye.
- Altered perception of time—This side effect might not be a big deal if one loses track of time when baking cookies to satisfy the munchie attack. However, missed meetings and deadlines are an entirely different matter, aren’t they?
- Changes in mood—It can be hard to work with someone who is moody. Eventually, the company’s work culture is likely to be affected in a negative way.
- Difficulties with thinking or problem-solving—It only takes a moment for an employer to begin filling in the blanks as to how this side effect could negatively affect the company.
Seeing through the fog
According to survey results Pew Research Center published in November 2022, only one in 10 Americans believes that marijuana should be illegal. The survey results were released shortly after President Joe Biden announced he was pardoning people convicted of marijuana possession at the federal level. He also urged his administration to review the federal classification of the drug. The mid-term elections confirmed that two more states wanted to be added to the growing number of those legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults living there. The count stands at twenty-one now.
People who came of age in the sixties and seventies and smoked marijuana recreationally—albeit illegally—were exposed to much lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than marijuana users today. Think 3% as a rough overall estimate. These were the days that the “stoners” gained their extremely mellow, and sporadically hungry, reputations.
However, today’s marijuana market is on an entirely different level. Growers continually seek to create higher and higher levels of THC in their goods because, of course, that means more money in their pockets.
Are they putting all costs aside though?
Today, people can walk into their local cannabis store and purchase marijuana with THC levels ranging in excess of 30%. If using hindsight, you might think that the worst that could happen would be the user would push past mellow to napping rather quickly. While employers would certainly view it as a major problem on the job, as a whole most would probably shrug it off as no big deal.
However, the brain may not be viewing the increase in THC—the psychoactive ingredient found in pot that affects the body—levels by 10% or more to that degree at all. Hospitals are beginning to report more cases of a mental health disorder known as cannabis-induced psychosis. It causes people to lose touch with reality. They are experiencing delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. They’re also having thoughts of suicide.
It’s time to clear the air
Increasing levels of THC are putting users at a 5% increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including marijuana-induced psychosis, according to several recent studies.
Other manifesting disorders include:
- Substance use disorders
The studies involved people who smoked high-potency marijuana every day. The possibility of being adversely affected depended on factors such as:
- Amount of drug used
- Age of first use
- Genetic vulnerability
Recent research, entitled “AKT1 Gene Variations and Psychosis” found that the age people start using marijuana can trigger increased risk as well. It’s hypothesized that brain changes resulting from early use increase the risk. However, more research is needed to verify this link.
The long and short of it
In addition to the short-term effects of marijuana impairment, which all show reason to include it on employee drug tests, the long-term effects are equally concerning. Of course, there’s the fact that smoking marijuana damages the lungs to consider.
In addition, the long-term, cumulative effects of repeated use, are:
- Potential for addiction
- Impairments in learning and memory
- Potential loss of IQ among those who begin using in adolescence
- Increased risk of chronic cough, bronchitis
- Increased risk of other drug or alcohol use disorders
- Increased risk of schizophrenia or other mental disorders
Recreational marijuana legalization can be likened to legalizing alcohol for adult consumption. There are rules and regulations that apply. Marijuana legalization should be wholeheartedly given the same consideration. And we should continue educating people about the adverse effects of using the high-potency strains of pot that are available on the market today.
Marijuana is classified as a drug for a reason. And, now, it seems as if it may be one that becomes increasingly dangerous as time passes.