Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Prove to me that the dangers of cannabis are/are not over-estimated Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    A few years ago a boy at my old school with no history of mental illness began smoking cannabis on a regular basis. Not long after this he developed potent schizophrenia. He was hospitalised on several occasions and while at art school after leaving had to be rescued from a river which he had waded into. He claimed to have been trying to get a better view of the area, though doctors suspected that it was a suicide attempt.

    Commonly today I hear some people claiming that cannabis should not be illegal and that it is much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Others have said that while the latter two are also damaging, in moderation they are not as risky as cannabis because of its propensity to 'unlock' incipient mental illnesses such as schizophrenia in my school's former pupil.

    I would be interested to see evidence-supported arguments for either case.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    I am admittedly no doctor or expert in this but from what research I have done on it as well as my own gut instinct and personal experience being on/around the drug tells me the dangers are extremely over hyped and it should definitely be decriminalized.

    either way it should not be illegal imo, who are the government to tell you you aren't allowed to experience different states of consciousness in your own body.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    I don't believe that cannabis is any worse than alcohol (probably less bad), but the idea that it is totally risk-free is clearly a myth perpetuated by people who think that total denial of any danger is the best way to push for liberalisation of the law on this matter. Of my friends who have been serious users, they all said that after a long while of using it, they really did regret starting completely, that it made them absent minded, that it began to take over their lives and that they did develop a kind of dependence on it. In my opinion it probably is the case that the guy had an underlying mental illness, rather than cannabis use actually being the root cause and I am fully aware that my argument is anecdotal rather than based on empirical evidence.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Surely the burden of proof should be the other way around? Otherwise we should make everything illegal until they are proved non-dangerous.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by HandmadeTurnip)
    Surely the burden of proof should be the other way around? Otherwise we should make everything illegal until they are proved non-dangerous.
    The scientific burden of proof is on anyone making a positive claim

    "Cannabis use is totally free of risk"/"The dangers of using cannabis are over-estimated" are both positive claims.


    I'm not saying not to take it, there are so many more dangerous things a person could do which are totally legal, but cannabis advocates are often incredibly obnoxious and unscientific when having this debate, just as much as social conservatives who think it is literally the worst thing a person could do.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    It depends.

    Most street cannabis has nasty chemicals and even glass in it that can damage a person and can skew scientific studies.
    Not to mention some of it may be spiked.

    You never know what you are really smoking
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    OP's logic: Tell anecdotal story about "some boy at school" that had bad experience with weed; Use this as conclusive evidence for it being bad.

    There was a story a few months ago about a girl dying of water intoxication. I could equally use your logic to claim water is bad.
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    Personally I'm somewhat divided.

    My instincts surrounding public health are based on a morally conservative streak in which I believe that the state has a duty to protect its citizens from harm, even from themselves. Given that Cannabis is addictive and harmful (though perhaps not to a large degree) my instinct is therefore to support its prohibition although I do support fines over prison sentences.

    Being pragmatic though one has to look at the fact that over 2 million use the substance and that previous prohibition and the war on drugs has failed, in addition I know of nobody that has died directly from its usage (unlike Cocaine, Ecstasy and Heroin). This aspect tends to lead me support legalization where it can be taxed and regulated for quality control.

    These arguments also apply to a couple of others like Magic Mushrooms, Ketamine and LSD.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Dr Alcoholic)
    OP's logic: Tell anecdotal story about "some boy at school" that had bad experience with weed; Use this as conclusive evidence for it being bad.
    Average pot smoker logic: I've smoked cannabis before and I'm not schizophrenic, so it's safe.

    There's been research done suggesting that cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in people with no history of it. People often seem to list all these benefits of cannabis and talk about how safe it is and completely neglect any mention of it's potential to trigger mental illness.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by JordanL_)
    Average pot smoker logic: I've smoked cannabis before and I'm not schizophrenic, so it's safe.

    There's been research done suggesting that cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in people with no history of it. People often seem to list all these benefits of cannabis and talk about how safe it is and completely neglect any mention of it's potential to trigger mental illness.


    I don't smoke cannabis or take drugs full stop.


    Yes cannabis can cause problems if abused. But the key word is abuse. There are multitudes of cannabis users out there but only a minority have problems with it.

    If we compare cannabis to sugar in terms of health effect, sugar trumps cannabis by a long shot in terms of being unhealthy.

    I'm not suggesting cannabis is necessarily healthy (although it does contain some medical benefits). But it isn't as bad as it has been claimed to be. Certainly if we allow people to indulge in sugar, fat, salt, alcohol, cigarettes all of which are killing people are a far greater rate than cannabis, then why shouldn't people be allowed to use cannabis?

    The very basic argument for cannabis starts at, "it's my body, my property to do as I please with". People are adults they don't need the govt to baby sit them.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yo radical one)
    The scientific burden of proof is on anyone making a positive claim

    "Cannabis use is totally free of risk"/"The dangers of using cannabis are over-estimated" are both positive claims.


    I'm not saying not to take it, there are so many more dangerous things a person could do which are totally legal, but cannabis advocates are often incredibly obnoxious and unscientific when having this debate, just as much as social conservatives who think it is literally the worst thing a person could do.
    That's true but I was talking from purely a legal standpoint.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Dr Alcoholic)
    OP's logic: Tell anecdotal story about "some boy at school" that had bad experience with weed; Use this as conclusive evidence for it being bad.

    There was a story a few months ago about a girl dying of water intoxication. I could equally use your logic to claim water is bad.
    You've done a good job of completely misinterpreting the OP. What I gave was an anecdote of an incident close to home for me that has sparked an interest in this subject as well as touching upon the two arguments of either side in that it's possible both that his illness was unconnected with cannabis use and that his schizophrenia was 'woken' by his cannabis use. The scientific community is divided on the drug's connection with mental illness and I struggle to see how you could have missed the part where I independently asked for evidence-based arguments either way to convince me. I was not trying to organise a people's army against cannabis use. The case was extensively reported in the press; if you want a link please ask.

    It does strike me as strange, however, that a young lad with no previous personal or family history of mental illness could have developed such a strong case of schizophrenia without the regular cannabis use that preceded its development not having been at least partly responsible. Your water intoxication analogy is highly flawed: I think it safe to assume that the commonality of clean water use causing death is certain to be proportionally incomparable to the commonality of clean cannabis use causing mental health problems.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Birkenhead)
    You've done a good job of completely misinterpreting the OP. What I gave was an anecdote of an incident close to home for me that has sparked an interest in this subject as well as touching upon the two arguments of either side in that it's possible both that his illness was unconnected with cannabis use and that his schizophrenia was 'woken' by his cannabis use. The scientific community is divided on the drug's connection with mental illness and I struggle to see how you could have missed the part where I independently asked for evidence-based arguments either way to convince me. I was not trying to organise a people's army against cannabis use. The case was extensively reported in the press; if you want a link please ask.

    It does strike me as strange, however, that a young lad with no previous personal or family history of mental illness could have developed such a strong case of schizophrenia without the regular cannabis use that preceded its development not having been at least partly responsible. Your water intoxication analogy is highly flawed: I think it safe to assume that the commonality of clean water use causing death is certain to be proportionally incomparable to the commonality of clean cannabis use causing mental health problems.

    It's not flawed at all. Firstly I thought you were claiming cannabis should be banned and that it's evil etc. So in that case my apologies for that.

    However, to answer you're point about my water analogy. It is merely applying the logic of "if abused cannabis can cause problems, thus it should be illegal" to another commodity.

    A better analogy then would be the use of sugar. In general sugar is fine if not abused, in fact it is a great source of energy for athletes looking for a fast energy boost. However, sugar abuse is killing people in their thousands, yet people don't sensationalise sugar and want it banned. Instead we highlight the dangers of the product and advise people not to abuse it. So why can't we do the same for something that arguably is not as dangerous.

    However, I guess the above doesn't answer your question.

    As for your friend and why he got mental health issues. Well anything we suggest is pure guess work and it is up to the mental health professionals treating him to make the conclusion.

    If it was caused by cannabis use, then I guess he may have abused the drug, or unfortunately he might be more predisposed to the negative effects of cannabis than other people.

    The thing is I would imagine that in general smoking cannabis won't cause such dramatic mental health issues as it did with your friend for most that choose to use but not abuse the drug.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    The problem with stuff like this is that we still know so little about the human brain. It's most likely that the boy from your school (and others) do have a predisposition towards mental illness, we just have no way of detecting it yet. We also have no way of telling if certain people will have a predisposition towards alcoholism, but alcohol's still legal.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    It's difficult to "prove" either side of the argument currently, but I'll do my best.

    As you touched upon, there is an incredibly low risk of abuse with cannabis compared to alcohol and tobacco – while cannabis leads to dependence in around 9% of its users, 20% of cocaine users and 25% of heroine users become addicted, while a legal substance, tobacco, causes 30% of its users to become addicted, many of whom go on to die as a result.

    Meanwhile, cannabis is indeed less dangerous all of these drugs. The two most common diseases which people assert are caused by cannabis are cancer and, as you mentioned, psychosis. However, while some studies have found a correlation with mental health issues and cancer, others have not. Moreover, many of the studies which have found a correlation had low sample sizes and other issues affecting them. No study, so far, has found that cannabis causes cancer – correlation does not equal causation. Furthermore, no study so far has found that cannabis causes psychosis; rather, some researchers have actually hypothesised that people with psychosis may have a greater tendency to use cannabis. For example, this study found that:

    future schizophrenia patients have premorbid behavioral abnormalities that might increase their propensity to use cannabis... cannabis use and schizophrenia might be the manifestations of a common brain pathology, and...schizophrenia patients have dysfunctions of the endogenous cannabinoid system Independent of cannabis use.
    So, rather than cannabis causing schizophrenia, it may be the case that both psychosis and cannabis use have a common factor linking them together, as another study partially funded by the UK Medical Research Council and discussed in this NHS article found.

    Cannabis may still be potentially dangerous, but hypotheticals don't seem to be a justification for not legalising something. Furthermore, smaller risks which people are prepared to take should be allowed. Finally, the substance in cannabis, THC, can actually be limited in a legalised system, meaning that any risks would be even smaller.

    To answer the specific topic title, the current evidence appears to favour the view that the dangers of cannabis are indeed over-estimated.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Even if it only brings out mental health conditions in people who are predisposed to them, it's not always possible to work out if you're predisposed or not so you're taking a pretty big risk by doing it.
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Sabertooth)
    Even if it only brings out mental health conditions in people who are predisposed to them, it's not always possible to work out if you're predisposed or not so you're taking a pretty big risk by doing it.
    True, but as I stated in my previous post, it's not even clear that cannabis "brings out" mental health conditions at all. If it does cause, or bring out, mental health conditions in people predisposed to them (or indeed in everyone) then obviously that's a reasonable argument against legalising cannabis, however current evidence doesn't appear to support this notion. Also, it may be less of a risk in a regulated system where THC concentration in the cannabis is limited. Currently, if cannabis does bring out mental health conditions in people predisposed to them, then these individuals can get more potent forms of cannabis basically on demand anyway at the moment.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    For years people thought tobacco was actually good for people. For years people thought that smokers and smokers who developed lung cancer was just correlation was down to air pollution.

    Just something to keep in mind.

    I am completely for keeping it illegal so long as the law is enforced properly, but it never has done and has never been a war on drugs.

    1,000 people a year jailed for possession.... Compared to the god knows how many actually possessing, growing and using it every year.

    However, 10,000 people in 2013 we're let off with a rebuke and a caution for class A drugs.... Never mind how many were lot off with a 'cannabis warning' in the same year and this year.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by JohnPaul_)
    For years people thought tobacco was actually good for people. For years people thought that smokers and smokers who developed lung cancer was just correlation was down to air pollution.

    Just something to keep in mind.

    I am completely for keeping it illegal so long as the law is enforced properly, but it never has done and has never been a war on drugs.

    1,000 people a year jailed for possession.... Compared to the god knows how many actually possessing, growing and using it every year.

    However, 10,000 people in 2013 we're let off with a rebuke and a caution for class A drugs.... Never mind how many were lot off with a 'cannabis warning' in the same year and this year.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    You can't really keep something illegal 'just in case' it's harmful. It's extremely unlikely tobacco will be ever be made illegal, even though we now know how damaging it is.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by HandmadeTurnip)
    You can't really keep something illegal 'just in case' it's harmful. It's extremely unlikely tobacco will be ever be made illegal, even though we now know how damaging it is.
    So because we already have one damaging substance in society, therefore let's have another?

    Tobacco could have easily not been but it's past the point of no return. And I fear it will be the same for drugs that are now classed as illegal.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: August 16, 2014
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Would you rather give up salt or pepper?
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Write a reply...
    Reply
    Hide
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.