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Legalise Cannabis? An insight into terrible side-effects of marijuana

Updated on November 24, 2011

A debate has been ongoing in many developed Western countries for some time now about whether or not cannabis should be legalised. In the U.S., some states tolerate marijuana while other areas require cities to have a medical card to prove they need cannabis for health reasons. This system is widely abused, however.

In the UK, the drug was downgraded by the former Labour government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from a class B substance to the less severe class C substance. These changes were then reversed in part by the current Conservative administration.

In other parts of Europe, such as Holland, cannabis is legal and can be smoked openly in cafes situated prominently in the capital Amsterdam.

It is not for me to go into the politics behind cannabis legalisation or indeed any of the myriad scientific studies that have been published on the issue. Now will I say whether the plant should or should not be made legal - the issue is simply too complex and I feel that there is no black or white argument. I will however, give some my own personal experience of the drug and describe the effects that it has had on the lives of family members and friends.

Like many people I first came across the drug in the middle of my teenage years when I was around 15 years old. There were whisperings that some people at school an indeed my own social circle were smoking weed, as it is commonly known in street parlance.

Over the next couple of years my close group of seven of eight friends became gradually consumed by the drug. At was at this point that I decided that I didn't want to be around drug users and made the choice that it would be best for me to break away from them. As far as I know, they are all still using cannabis on a recreational basis as they did ten years ago.

Now, it is interesting to observe that the two people within that group, one of whom I would have considered to have been the most intelligent and the other the most creative, were both heavy cannabis smokers. Furthermore, these two have not gone as far in life as their potential would have suggested. One didn't go to university and worked in an entry-level retail position while the other went into a junior-level office position.

Other members of the group suffered from paranoia and had run-ins with the police. In short, they didn't have the kind of early start to adult life that their safe and secure middle-class upbringings would have implied.

Cannabis plants: Smoking the drug might seriously reduce talent and potential in life
Cannabis plants: Smoking the drug might seriously reduce talent and potential in life

In another situation, a family member of mine began experimenting with cannabis when they were in their middle-teenage years. After this they became firmly addicted and suffered health problems, relationship issues with other family members, mental side-effects such as paranoia, and they also had many run-ins with the local police and the courts system. They didn't go to college and din't get a career or job like many of their peers would have been doing.

I have also had friends in my wider social circle who were promising athletes. Two of these would have had the ability to become professional skateboarders of the standard of Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Bam Margera and the like. But they all became regular users of marijuana.

Call it what you will: skunk, weed, hash, green Mary Jane. In short, my experience of cannabis has been overwhelmingly negative. People's potential has been obliterated by smoking the drug and their lives have been blighted by the effect of it. And in all these years despite the stories of people using the herbal drug to manage health problems, not once have I met somebody whose life has benefit from smoking marijuana.

Perhaps you're reading this and you're a regular cannabis user. You might argue that you're life has been fine while smoking the drug. But how do you know it has not been limited? How do you know that you wouldn't have reached far greater heights if you hadn't been taking cannabis? You don't. It's my argument having seen the effects it has on very talented people that you would have achieved much more.

Or perhaps you're reading this and you are very successful. Your argument is that you can smoke cannabis and still excel. That's good for you. You already had the raw talent there to begin with, and it wasn't created by a few green pieces of plant rolled up and burned. So please, you're case is personal to you and it should not be used as an example that could encourage others to use marijuana. In short, don't go promoting skunk, as it's known, because that's a dangerous thing to do.

If you're reading this and you're considering using the drug, think deeply about what I've said and some of the effects that this plant can have on people's lives. Read more about the issue, seek advice from friends, family, doctors and more. You're more than likely to conclude that you're life can be fulfilled and it is beautiful as it is.


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    • Kowulz profile image

      Rock Cowles 

      2 years ago from Boiling Springs, SC

      There is no causality to your claim that their lives were blighted by cannabis use. There are plenty of intelligent and artistic people who have never used cannabis and still didn't live up to their potential, as well as people who do partake and are extremely successful. I personally think Prohibition causes more paranoia than cannabis does, it certainly leads to more run ins with the law than walking around with a pocketful of turnips. I never felt paranoid back when I smoked unless there was a strong probability of an encounter with authority figures.

    • weedprices profile image


      6 years ago

      I really do think it all depends on the individual. I have close friends who smoke large amounts of cannabis and are in university doing just fine... i think it comes down to what you really want out of life.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Rick, your argument is circumstantial and relies on circular logic. We shouldn't waste time thinking about "how things could have been" - in general regret and rumination is incredibly negative.

      I do appreciate your concern for helping your fellow man to achieve their potential in life. However, prohibition is often crippling to young people in the UK and the US. I can't tell you how much of my life and hobbies I have missed out on because I got caught with weed and lost my license several times.

      All in all, I have had my license suspended for about 4 years out of 10 since I was able to drive. Always having to depend on other people. Always pushing friends away because I always ask for rides. Missing out on the serendipity of life because I'm stuck at home. Never able to help out other friends when they need it. That's the worst. I feel like prohibition has not only limited my capacity to help myself, but to help others as well.

      And I was fortunate enough not to have to rely on FAFSA student aid when I went to college. Because they would have taken that away. So many kids these days have to drop out of school because the government takes away their loans if they're charged with possession.

      And these are just two minor points in the prohibition debate. I do believe drugs are dangerous, especially alcohol. I do believe they are a waste of time, for the most part. But the worst part of prohibition is how judgemental people push drug users away. There's a part of society that just wants to ostracize us, to quarantine us. In a way, I can understand why some people would want to isolate to shelter themselves from the world. Please understand, this is far more damaging than drug use.

      It hurts. And what do drug users do to avoid feeling emotional pain? I can understand when people don't want to use drugs. I even admire the temperance and willpower. But it's painful to see people judge my friends, typically based on their long hair and taste in music. My friends are really good people who truly care about others. They are not thieves or junkies. But a lot of people won't give them the time of day because of the way they look. The world would be a better place if we'd tear down our ivory towers, get out in the world and help the people that need it.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      I think that people who don't reach their full potential don't do it for personal reasons which may or may not be related to smoking pot. In my experience as a comfortable middle-class person living among successful professionals, most people smoke pot and you wouldn't know the difference.

      Maybe your loved ones had other issues, or maybe they were doing other drugs, but I'm personally not convinced that smoking pot will disrupt your potential. I think it becomes dangerous when people's lives revolve around smoking pot, but I also think its dangerous when people's lives revolve around anything superficial, like their career for example. I respect your point of view and I am sorry for the people in your life who you think are not as happy as they could be, but I have a completely different viewpoint.

    • Alaxia profile image

      Cara Alex 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in the United Kingdom

      Cannabis has been a Class B drug in the UK since 2009... and many police forces don't mind doing you for it. It is difficult to be persuaded by an argument which contains inaccuracies.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      'Correlation does not equal causation.'

      Nice non sequitur there, that maxim applies to all empirical data.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Correlation does not equal causation. There are plenty of successful cannabis users among us, for example, does Richard Branson ring a bell? Michael Phelps? If we were to apply your kind of logic to those two individuals we could say pot smoking leads to unimaginable wealth or Olympic world records.

      In the USA businesses get tax incentives to have a 'drug free' workplace. Students are denied federal grants & loans for higher education if they have a drug conviction in their past. Government jobs with pension, benefits, etc. are off the table for a cannabis smoker. These are just some of the factors that contribute to the reason why you don't see many successful people touting their love for cannabis publicly. They have either been effectively 'shut out' of the system or they're present in the system but for obvious reasons can't speak out about their use. For most people, professing a love for cannabis is instant career suicide.

      As for 'paranoia', it's not paranoia when there is a very active, well funded effort to put you into a cage for the next few years, under threat of deadly force. Not all marijuana users are 'abusers' or involved with any other kinds of criminal activity. The reefer madness needs to stop. The fact that anyone is serving prison time right now simply for possessing or consuming cannabis is horrendous. It's a political/cultural crime. It's shocking that more people don't speak up for their fellow man, rather choosing to direct focus away from the real atrocity.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh Sam,

      At the very least cannabis has made your insufferable grammar tolerable. So you see, there is a positive effect after all.



    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey there are a lot of awful effects that can nearly ruin your life but as I haven't done any drugs, etc. i don't plan to but if anyone could tell me that they've benifitted from it I would love to but god bless all of you have and are taking them awful affects because THEY CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE. So please do me a favor and be wise don't ever in your life short or long do anything you would regret later on down the road. Such as drugs or alcohol usage



    • cheaptrick profile image


      7 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      When you make something Illegal you relinquish control of it[substances]and that control flows naturally to the immoral criminal who looks forward to selling it to young people.Then our immoral criminal element will give Heroin to these young people until they're addicted,after which our immoral criminal will introduce these young people to the wonderful world of teen prostitution,burglary,home invasions,and a myriad of other wonderful activities.A legal marijuana store owner is not interested in selling to teens let alone the other activities I've mentioned.If you truly don't want kids to smoke then legalise it and control it.That eliminates our immoral criminal element ,removes his/her profit and helps the economy in one stroke.Prohibition Never works and always gives rise to organised crime.

      By the way,I and my partner own a number of businesses that do quite well affording us and our employees a comfortable living...and We've both been smoking for some forty years.I suppose smoking may have made me stupid in those forty years...but It sure doesn't feel that way.Legalize it,control it,and tax the hell out of it at every will still be less expensive and a service to society.Or,you can leave it in the hands of our Immoral criminals who look forward to seducing our children at every opportunity.


    • mikelong profile image


      7 years ago from The largest convict colony in the United States

      I disagree with your assertion that said successful people who used cannabis would have been successful regardless.

      I have personally seen cases where cannabis has enabled transformation from lackluster to highly successful and productive. I look not at the substance, but at the substance of the person.

      There are those who will make cannabis look bad, but there are a multitude of others to whom it has had benefit. One has to look at the individual his or herself and see what is going on.

      Regarding that one person you mentioned who didn't go to university, was this person using alcohol? If so, what role was drinking playing? Ultimately, why?

      People may engage in the same act (drinking or smoking), but for different reasons. What is this specific individual's story?

      To discount these based on the frivolity of "legality" (which is contrived not for the benefit of people, but rather for profiteering and manipulation as in the NYPD article I shared) and corresponding "social norms" shading weed as taboo improperly skews reality.

      Marijuana prohibition is a failure. It swallows tax dollars (or pounds) while enabling law enforcement to embed itself in bed with criminals...the two merge into one.

      It should really be this easy. Get rid of the backdoor, "drug dealer" nonsense that benefits no one but drug dealers and their buddies in the criminal justice system.

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from England

      Thanks Mike, you have a point that there could be other issues in people's lives that prevent them from reaching their potential. Would it not be fair to say that marijuana exacerbates personal problems, particularly among young people who are still growing and developing?

      As you predicted, I'll use the same response to my point about successful people: They obviously had the talent to be successful before they started taking drugs.

      The point I'm making is that cannabis is not necessary for anybody. They can be successful without it.

      Is it really fair to make cannabis legal because some people still leave fulfilled lives? Would it not be better to stop the consumption of the drug in order to protect those whose lives will ultimately be troubled by it?

    • mikelong profile image


      7 years ago from The largest convict colony in the United States

      Rick, I have to completely disagree with you.

      "Run ins with the law" are only a problem in a society that promotes cannabis prohibition. What many people fail to realize is that such a policy is used by law enforcement to illegally and immorally target certain segments of society, "the undesireables" for harassment and outright abuse.

      Likewise, shortcomings that you might refer to, in regard to those two you specifically mentioned who didn't reach their potential, can you simply point to marijuana as opposed to other issues in their lives?

      Marijuana users don't reach/finish university and move on to greater things?

      You try to diminish the strength of the counter to your claims (your "they would have been successful anyway and if you are successful and a pot smoker you were somehow predestined to greatness already" paragraph) with the same type of response you will probably to my post (if you decide to not delete it outright). But none of this carries any actual weight.

      You juxtaposed the counter argument to the notion that "regardless weed is still dangerous"..but yet have no danger to point to.

      If one is going to cite health problems from cannabis consuption, it would be beneficial to be specific and to show sources, neither of which was done here.


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