A great question many teenagers ask us is “If cannabis is truly natural, then how can it be harmful?”
People usually believe that substances that exist in their natural state are automatically safer than artificial chemicals produced in a factory or laboratory. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. There are many useful substances which are artificially made (for example medicines) just like there are many harmful ones found naturally in the earth.
Let’s take tobacco as another good example. Just like cannabis, the leaves of tobacco plant, after being dried out and turned into crumbs, are smoked for many centuries. Native Americans used it in their religious rituals because of their belief that if they exhaled tobacco smoke, their thoughts and prayers would be carried to heaven. They also believed that tobacco had medicinal properties.
When some American settlers started growing and exporting tobacco to Europe and other parts of the world, its reputation increased as much as that of cannabis nowadays. Even though there were a few religious leaders and monarchs who thought tobacco was unmoral and unhealthy and therefore attempted to ban it, many people enjoyed and regarded it as “precious” and shared the belief and claims of the physicians of the time that tobacco had healing virtues and that anyone who smoked it could cure various kinds of sickness and even protect themselves from contacting the plague!
It was in the 1950s that modern medicine used scientific evidences to establish the real truth about tobacco smoking:—it is very addictive and can lead to lung cancer and similar diseases. Everybody now agrees that although tobacco is natural, it is unsafe and does no good to your health.
Food and other product manufacturers use their “natural means good for your health” assumption every time to manipulate your buying behaviour. For example, when you see “All Natural” label on a food, there’s a tendency for you to believe it’s good for you, despite the large quantity of fat or unhealthy sugar in it, whereas both the fat and sugar are “natural” like tobacco.
So is cannabis harmful? It is still unknown if cannabis smoking, like tobacco smoking, causes lung cancer, but reliable evidence reveals that there are other bad stuff it does, like interfering with our memory and thinking. Also, some have argued that cannabis has the potential to lower your intelligence quotient, if you are a regular teenage smoker of it. Therefore, it can prevent you from achieving your full life potential.
Is hurting your brain in a “natural” way any better than doing so in an unnatural way?
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This post has been updated since its original publication in 2013.