The dangers of substance use disorder might not exist
Research has repeatedly found a correlation between cannabis use and psychotic experiences, but even the most seemingly damning studies admit that the cause-and-effect relationship is unclear: as this study sadly published in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2019, in which its authors state: “Unfortunately, not all evidence using different methods is consistent with regard to causation. For example, studies using genetic data have found evidence that may be consistent with a shared genetic etiology between the risk of psychosis and the likelihood of using cannabis. This means that a person genetically predisposed to having a psychotic episode could self-medicate with cannabis.
History and reality
There are negative effects associated with cannabis, but many of them affect only a small portion of the population (such as hyperemesis syndrome) or those who started using too young. The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites delusions and psychosis as side effects of regular high potency cannabis use, but forgets to point out that any stressor can trigger psychotic episodes, including all drugs, death of a loved one, loss of a job and any other busy life event.
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9% of cannabis users develop a “marijuana use disorder”. A new terror is on the horizon for cannabis users. With a growing number of states legalizing recreational cannabis, it seems like the country is on the verge of an addiction epidemic. People addicted to marijuana can experience irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, anxiety, and food cravings if they are weaned. Adolescents who use cannabis are said to be particularly at risk of developing a drug use disorder, as are regular users.
However, there is no indication that consumers develop a physiological dependence on cannabis as is the case with the cocaine or opioidss. They can become irritable and anxious, but they probably won't get sick or experience hallucinations or anything else that we often associate with drug addiction withdrawal.
In fact, it seems that much of the idea of cannabis addiction centers on the violation of a principle rather than actual harm from regular or heavy use.
But we are all so stuck in the obscure details of this discussion that we miss the most important question: If it is safe to use cannabis regularly, the benefits are many, but the Evidence of physiologically addictive properties is scarce, is “addiction” to cannabis really that dangerous? If a person can use cannabis on a daily basis, that it does not negatively affect their ability to function as a valued member of society and that they have access to a legal supply, where is the problem, exactly?
Consider the idea of vitamin supplement addiction. This is no joke, and a number of people claim to “suffer” from it. When they are deprived of their supplements, they experience negative effects on their health and their mind which correspond to the symptoms of withdrawal. Of course, instead of calling them “addicts” suffering from “withdrawal”, we say that they are “deficient” in vitamins or the like and send them to the health department of the nearest grocery store.
It may sound cheeky, but it's all about perspective. Without a doubt, the most dangerous side effect of cannabis use is to be thrown in jail by those responsible for the war on certain drugs, and it was they who made it appear that marijuana use disorders would soon invade the country.
Now that states are starting to legalize recreational cannabis, we're going to start seeing more weed users every day. It is time to start thinking more rationally and to recognize that the only victims plagued by their "addictions" are drug companies and police unions.
In 2014, The Nation has publié a scathing article exposing the deep links between anti-canna lobby groups and their funders, drug companies and police unions. Investigators found that the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA) and the Partnership to End Addiction - two organizations that have helped spread the idea that cannabis use disorder is a threat to our society - were funded by prescription opioid producers and police lobbyists.
Police unions have a reason to create panic around this drug and to oppose the legalization of cannabis. They have to worry about losing federal funds that come from drug control programs and losing funds from forfeiture of assets.
The role of pharmaceutical companies in this drama has far more sinister implications. CADCA was found to be funded by Purdue Pharma, makers of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin. There is no place here to describe the damage done in the United States by opioids in general and OxyContin in particular, so it seems suspicious that this pharma company is concerned about the dangers posed by addiction to cannabis. It is up to the reader to determine whether this is a competitive maneuver, a concern over claims by cannabis advocates that the drug fights opioid addiction, or a sincere civic duty.
But one thing is for sure: there is a lot of dirty money behind the cannabis addictive narrative, and they need to be carefully examined before they are accepted as fact.