Marijuana is a paradox, and has been for the longest time. The fact that smoking it makes you think everything is a paradox is another thing altogether!

Its origins are hard to pin down, but the social stigma attached to smoking weed remains, now more so than ever. But in a time where the most advanced nation in the world is embracing the Assassin of Youth – state by state – the case for smoking pot is getting stronger by the day.

To give you a short preview of what they’re saying Aunt Mary is good for, just have a look at this list from Harvard’s health blog:

  • Pain control (chronic, not acute – eases the pain of multiple sclerosis)

  • Muscle relaxant

  • Ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease

  • Used to manage nausea and weight loss

  • Treating glaucoma

  • Helps patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

That’s just for starters. The benefits of medical marijuana have been repeated to death on the Internet. Not only that, but there’s also a sea of support for marijuana as a harbinger of peace, an equalizer of egos and a way to end war. Ya Maaan!

Now I’m as much a Bob Marley fan as the next guy, but despite the excessively highlighted benefits of giggle weed, there’s also an ugly side to it that most smokers prefer to ignore. The problem is, that ugly side won’t ignore you. Especially if you light up a fat one on a regular basis.

Here are just a few of the ways in which marijuana is known to affect the human brain:

#1

There’s a substantial body of evidence from animal testing and a growing corpus of research on humans showing that regular use “can cause long-term or possibly permanent adverse changes in the brain.”

#2

Structural studies on the brains of regular marijuana users are often in conflict, but more than one study has shown that regular usage, especially adolescents, is associated with “altered connectivity and reduced volume of specific brain regions“ that affect a range of functions such as impulse control, learning and memory.

#3

Depending on when a person started smoking weed, it can can cause various degrees of “functional impairment in cognitive abilities.”

#4

Starting in adolescence can reduce your IQ by 6 to 8 points by the time you reach mid-adulthood, according to one study.

#5

One of the things affected is verbal ability and verbal intelligence, which is the brain’s ability to process words, and concepts based on words.

#6

Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs. People who smoke marijuana daily or near-daily may have a daily cough, bronchitis, mucus and wheezing.

The general finding is that when marijuana smoking commences at an early age – before the person fully develops into an adult – the effects are far more pronounced. Does that mean it’s okay to start smoking after you become an adult? By no means. Research on the effects of marijuana is still in its infancy, while its benefits have been touted for centuries. Millennia even.

The bottom line here is not whether it should be legalized or decriminalized. The bottom line appears to be that there’s simply no bottom line. There’s nothing about marijuana that everyone can agree on, except that it’s a controversial subject.

But what about the cultivation or farming of the plant itself? We know the tremendous uses of the cannabis plant as a source of organic material like hemp. But what does it do to the environment, and the land on which it grows? Have you ever thought about that?

One study by Jake Brenner, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College, and Van Bustic, a specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension, showed that marijuana farming does have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Not because of the plant itself, but the fact that it needs to be treated like any other crop, with requirements for land clearing, building access roads and so on. Moreover, factors like soil erosion and chemical runoffs into water sources can hurt the environment in more ways that we now know.

Again, there’s no bottom line here because there’s not enough scientific data based on which to make an informed decision. The only thing at work here is personal opinion and anecdotal evidence, and even that is skewed one way or another depending on whether or not you support smoking marijuana.

Against a backdrop like that, it’s no wonder that marijuana is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned. The states may have fallen to the wiles of weed one by one – now numbering about 29, plus Washington D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico – but the jury is still out as far as scientific evidence is concerned.

In parting, we’ll leave you with a thought-provoking question paraphrased from the Isha Foundation’s revered spiritual leader, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev:

“What if pot-smoking people manufactured your car? Would you feel safe driving it?”