Legalization trend forces review of marijuana’s dangers | Science News



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Legalization trend forces review of marijuana’s dangers

Pot may be far less risky than highly addictive drugs, but it's not harmless

2:06pm, May 30, 2014

HIGH TIMES  Marijuana legalization advocates tout pot’s medicinal benefits and low addictiveness, while critics point to its neurological dangers. Research shows that the reality is somewhere in the middle.  

Some people think marijuana is nature’s gift to humankind: a nonaddictive drug, safe at any dose, that opens the mind, lifts the spirit and transports the user to a more profound reality.

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world,” a user named Mr. X wrote in the 1971 book Marihuana Reconsidered.

Close to 30 years later, Mr. X was revealed to be the legendary science communicator and astronomer Carl Sagan. His message still reverberates with many Americans, whose support for legalizing marijuana has tripled since 1989 — from 16 percent to 54 percent today. In Colorado and Washington state, voters legalized recreational marijuana use in November 2012. That formal embrace of marijuana may signal a growing shift in acceptance. Today, 21 states

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