With more and more states legalizing marijuana, the debate about whether the substance is simply a harmless herb or a dangerous gateway drug continues.
The Doctors continue to examine both sides of the argument with Karen O’Keefe, a marijuana advocate from the Marijuana Policy Project and addiction expert Paul Auchterlonie.
Karen acknowledges that marijuana does pose some risks, but says it pales in comparison to alcohol and other drugs, “It’s far less toxic, less addictive and it’s not linked to violence,” she contends. She feels the idea that the herb is a gateway to harder drugs is not true and that keeping it illegal leads to people using harder drugs, which are not tested or verified like legal marijuana is.
On the side of the argument, Paul says that 18 percent of people in rehab for addiction are there due to marijuana. He is concerned about the age when people use marijuana most, which is from the age of 15 to 25. He notes that many parts of the brain are still developing during these years and points out that marijuana can affect things like emotions, judgment, decision making and time management. He would like the pro-pot people to acknowledge that many young people are using marijuana thinking it’s safe and less dangerous. “It’s a dream killer… there’s a reason why you can’t manage your time and complete tasks,” he says.
The Doctors, along with Karen and Paul, note that everyone is unique and will respond to marijuana differently. Some are able to use it and not have it adversely affect their lives, which others experience many harmful and lasting effects.
Where do you stand on marijuana? See more from our guests and The Doctors about whether they feel pot leads to harder drugs in the video below.