When it comes to marijuana, there seems to be two distinct fields of opinion — people either love it or they hate it. Advocates tout marijuana’s supposed medicinal properties, while opponents vilify it as a gateway drug. Both sides have plenty of arguments at the ready, and neither seems interested in seeking a resolution.

I’m not blind enough to believe that smoking weed is going to send someone spiraling into a drug-induced psychosis from which they’ll never recover. But I don’t think glorifying any and all marijuana use is the solution, either. Like anything else, the polarization of opinions on this issue is questionable because nothing is black and white.

Claiming marijuana is a damaging, addictive drug is ineffective because it isn’t true. Given that there have been few recorded deaths related to marijuana use, we can hardly accept that pot is the epidemic sobriety pundits claim it is. Staunchly classifying marijuana as an unacceptable evil will do no good because it shatters the legitimacy of any such arguments.

Marijuana certainly can have beneficial effects, with tentative links among cannabis and cancer treatment, chronic pain management and treatment of anxiety disorders. Recreational use can also be positive, or at worst neutral — it’s certainly no worse than alcohol. But just because marijuana isn’t completely harmful doesn’t mean it’s completely beneficial.

The problem with a lot of pro-weed people is that they seem to believe that marijuana is a constant good capable of improving any situation. Physical detriment as a result of marijuana use is unlikely, but mental detriment is possible. Chronic marijuana use can lead to apathy, changes in socialization and a decrease in concentration and motivation.

There’s no evidence that marijuana is physically addictive, but regularly smoking pot can lead to psychological dependence. As with any habit, smoking can become an ingrained practice, and becoming too preoccupied with any behavior is concerning.

Getting high can sometimes become an avoidance outlet. In this case, marijuana itself isn’t necessarily the problem, only a symptom of a larger issue. Smoking weed becomes an escape so that a person may circumvent their real-world problems by escaping to a fantasy drug world.

Exorbitant marijuana use isn’t a problem because of the nature of the drug itself, but because of what it may be used to accomplish. If someone can smoke weed and still function normally in their daily life, it’s probably no more dangerous than occasional drinking. What’s not always apparent to marijuana proponents and opponents alike is that a social smoker isn’t the same as someone who is high virtually all the time.

People who claim that “marijuana is my medicine” are ignoring the larger implications of repetitive behavior. Cannabis can have medicinal properties, but using it compulsively is certainly not healthy. The same idea applies to a number of behaviors that are fine in moderation but questionable in excess — people have similar difficulties with overeating, playing video games too often or having too much sex.

The bottom line is that it’s best to be realistic when distributing information about marijuana. As with all substances, weed can be problematic if it’s used too much, but this isn’t a reason to demonize its use in moderation. The best practice is to promote accurate information so that the public can make informed decisions about marijuana use or lack thereof rather than believing propaganda from either side.

Grace Blackburn is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Grace at blackbge@dukes.jmu.edu.