There is a vile plague spreading across the land—a green leech, of sorts—with the uncanny ability to go to the gutter for the eternal souls of every sex, race and religion and bury their combustible corpses in the most rotten inception of hell. It has been written that the screams from behind the nine gates of this kingdom of catastrophe can be heard damning their respective higher powers for allowing them to be shot out the fiery bowels of marijuana addiction. For it is this so-called dysfunction that lines the walls of Satan’s lonesome abode with an eternity agony and regret.
Fortunately, marijuana is not quite as biblical as some of the over-zealous would like us to believe. Anyone with experience in the drug culture fully understands that pot is in no way a gateway to the destitution and despair that was once sold under Reefer Madness. Marijuana doesn’t even come close to running amok in the veins of civil society in the same way as alcohol or hard drugs. As far as we can tell, the herb has never been a catalyst to getting a trucker blown out behind a Pilot Travel Center, nor has the plant-inspired its users to pawn everything they own just to get their hands on another buzz.
In fact, the federal government, the same guiding force that continues to lump anything derived from the cannabis plant in the same Schedule I classification as heroin, even admits that marijuana is really only about as addictive as caffeine. Although it might be true that the majority of the American population cannot properly function without their morning jolt, we have never heard any horror stories about hardcore caffeine addicts selling their kids for a cup of coffee. The same is true with marijuana. Go ahead—scour the Internet and let us know if you track down a single case. We’ll wait.
How Real Is Marijuana Addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that roughly only around 9 percent of those who use marijuana develop dependency issues. But marijuana does not spawn the same types of cravings experienced with other substances, like heroin, prescription opioids and even methamphetamine. Most scientific explorations into the beast of addiction have shown this disease, commonly referred to as “marijuana use disorder,” is more of a psychological dependence rather than a physical affliction.
Although the American Society of Addiction Medicine believes marijuana dependency is a “significant health problem,” it has concluded that this disease is also extremely rare.
“Although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do,” according to a 2012 study. “But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”
The same could be said about chocolate and Mexican food. Where there is a pleasure to be had, humans will always find a way to run something good into the ground and make excuses for their gluttonous ways by labeling it an addiction. By all accounts, marijuana dependency is about as legitimate as a lust for anything satisfying in this life.
But that’s no reason to call it a public health issue.
For Those Cannaholics, There is Always Marijuana Anonymous
But for those folks who remain convinced that their obsession with the pot culture has spiraled out of control, there is always Marijuana Anonymous (MA). Similar to its boozy counterpart, Bill W’s infamous Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the pot version of this 12-step program was designed for those who have hit “rock bottom” with weed and want to find their way to recovery through a sponsor and regular meetings.
Although people suffering from addictions to various intoxicating substances from booze to pills are often found lingering in the halls of AA, Marijuana Anonymous tries to single out the tattered and bruised Cannaholic whose life has been turned upside down.
“The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana,” the MA preamble states. “There are no dues or fees for membership. We are self-supporting through our own contributions. MA is not affiliated with any religious or secular institution or organization and has no opinion on any outside controversies or causes. Our primary purpose is to stay free of marijuana and to help the marijuana addict who still suffers achieve the same freedom. We can do this by practicing our suggested Twelve Steps of recovery and by being guided as a group by our Twelve Traditions.”
According to Marijuana Anonymous, which takes no official stance on whether marijuana should be made legal, a marijuana addict is someone who has let weed take control of his or her life.
“We lose interest in all else; our dreams go up in smoke. Ours is a progressive illness often leading us to addictions to other drugs, including alcohol. Our lives, our thinking, and our desires center around marijuana—scoring it, dealing it, and finding ways to stay high.”
Marijuana Addiction Is Not Taken Very Seriously
Where heroin could be described as a fully erect steer foaming at the mouth with the desire to charge and kill, cannabis is more like a beautiful bird that may shit on someone from time to time. Some specialists do not even believe pot addiction is real enough to warrant concern.
Harvard medical professor J. Wesley Boyd says marijuana dependency is mild in comparison to other drugs—even alcohol.
“Those who quit generally experience fairly subtle physiological signs of withdrawal—a mildly elevated pulse, irritability and cravings. These symptoms are much less obvious or powerful than those seen when someone addicted to alcohol, painkillers, or tranquilizers suddenly stops using,” he wrote.
Unlike hard drugs, which can come with powerful withdrawals, including seizures, hallucinations and even death, the professor says the worse case scenario in kicking a pot habit is that a person may miss being stoned. Yet, he admits this desire may increase in those who experiment with weed in their formative years. So it is best to wait until adulthood to join the stoner nation.
Final Hit: Is Marijuana Anonymous Really Necessary?
Although there isn’t much evidence that marijuana addiction is real, there is apparently a select breed of stoner out there who have trouble managing their lives because of it. If not, Marijuana Anonymous, which was established in 1989, would not still be hosting regular meetings all over the world. Much like AA, the organization attempts to bring a sense of community back to those folks who have fallen on hard times because of their cannabis use. It is not our place to judge. The problems we experience in this life are vast. So, if MA is something a person feels is necessary to help them cope with their “dependency,” then so be it. There is nothing wrong with an individual trying to take responsibility for their actions or their time on this planet.