The DEA defines pot as a “Schedule I” drug, which means law enforcement places it in the same category as heroin. Amazing, right? Arguably more amazing is the fact that cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which means the DEA is kind of saying that crack has more medicinal value than marijuana.
Nevertheless, people can still apply for a medical marijuana license in 16 states and Washington, D.C. And six more states have pending legislation to either legalize or green-light its use for residents. Is that a good thing? Rather than focus on the political or “moral” implications, we figured we’d look at the science of pot smoking. And like most things you do, smoking pot comes with pros and cons.
PRO: WEED MAKES YOU HAPPY
By attaching to cannabinoid receptors — nerve centers in the brain that control pleasure, thought, memory, coordination and perception — THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) stimulates the brain and prompts the release of dopamine, which is a chemical associated with pleasure. Another way to write that sentence: Weed makes you happy.
CON: GETTING HIGH MAY MAKE YOU SAD
A few studies have linked, ahem, chronic pot smoking to increased levels of anxiety and depression. However, some of these studies have been called into question because the participants were already leading crappy lives.