Methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin may be America’s most addictive and destructive drugs, but marijuana is the most dangerous illegal drug in our nation. The reasons for this conclusion are many. First is that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in America. Almost 2 million persons began using marijuana last year in the United States, and marijuana use starts at a younger age than most other illicit drugs.
Early marijuana use is associated with drug dependence as an adult. The younger the age of first use, the higher the likelihood of such dependence as an adult. More than 4 million Americans are estimated to be dependent upon or abusers of marijuana, more than any other illegal drug. Treatment admissions for marijuana abuse have been higher than for any other illegal drug in our nation since 2002.
Marijuana is not the harmless substance many would like us to believe. Marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health risks to its users. Short-term effects of marijuana include memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, and loss of motor skills. Long-term adverse impacts include loss in muscle strength, increased heart rate, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, impaired ability to fight off infections and risk of cancer (marijuana contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke).