The question of “is marijuana addictive?” is a common one and especially a concern of anyone new to cannabis.
Whether you are already a marijuana user and smoke socially or individually, or if you are currently or considering using weed for pain relief, in this blog post we will aim to address this complex and debatable topic.
The Question of Addiction
First of all, it is important to consider the topic of addiction in general. There are many things in society that can be considered addictive, including (but not limited to) gambling, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, or smoking. Although some studies suggest that marijuana is addictive, this typically occurs when weed becomes a dependency. Having said that, most social consumers of cannabis are able to smoke and quit without any problem. Therefore, the question of “is marijuana addictive?” is largely centered around the debate of how you decide an addiction.
In a relatively recent study at the University of Cambridge, regular users are more likely to develop a form of addiction than occasional weed users. Fewer than 10% of individuals in the study could be considered to have developed a limiting addiction as a result of long-term cannabis use. Given this fact, there appears to be a clear separation between infrequent users, moderate users, and heavy users. While scientific studies have attempted to document the long-term effects of cannabis on brain cells and activity, the methodology of the research has been limited. However, new and future studies may shed more light on this topic.
Will I Become Addicted?
Trying marijuana for the first time or even for occasional use is unlikely to get you addicted. That said, it is not impossible to become addicted to cannabis, much like addiction is possible with other substances or activities. While studies seem to suggest that regular use is more likely to lead to addiction, this is not entirely conclusive. There is also very little concrete information on variables, such as if other lifestyle factors, age, strains of cannabis, or even ethnicity can contribute to cannabis addiction.
Legalisation of Marijuana
Areas of the world vary in their approach to marijuana legislation. In Canada, cannabis is freely available to purchase for recreational use. It is also legal to purchase for medicinal use. California in the U.S. is another location where recreational cannabis can be purchased from legally accredited stores. Similarly to recreational use, there is inconclusive evidence that cannabis for medical purposes promotes addiction. Despite this, many individuals use the drug because they find it effective for pain management or for relief from stress and anxiety.
Studies appear to show that marijuana use is less addictive than, for example, the nicotine in tobacco. Smoking regular cigarettes is more likely to get you addicted sooner than smoking weed. Having said that, like any mind-altering substance, marijuana has the potential to be addictive. There are still many questions over whether short-term or occasional use has any major impact on the brain’s cognitive ability.
Likewise, while studies are appearing to show long-term use increases the chance of addiction, more investigation is required to confirm this. Therefore, the question ultimately comes down to how you define addiction and the potential advantages of marijuana (e.g., pain relief or anxiety relief) in comparison to the potential drawbacks. For most individuals, infrequent use is unlikely to result in addiction. For regular, long-term use, the prognosis is less than clear.