Marijuana has often been considered one of the most harmless drugs to exist, especially within the 21st century; however, it may only be helpful to people with mental illnesses.
Marijuana is given a bad reputation because it encourages people to lose touch with the real world, but for someone with schizophrenia, depression or anxiety, that may be the ideal goal. Another reason why it has a negative connotation is because people who aren’t frequent users tend to question it more, leaving room for paranoia and worries about using an illegal drug although it was decriminalized in July of 2020. Mental health is the deciding factor because if it’s not an escape that someone is looking for, losing touch with reality is very scary.
There may be a heavy risk factor associated with marijuana depending on the frequency of use —psychosis and a weakening IQ. Although, there is no sufficient reliable evidence to prove a drop in IQ in teenagers who use marijuana because there are many other factors at play.
For instance, someone with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), such as myself, may have been academically fueled by the overwhelming anxiety of not doing well in school. So, having good grades was putting my mental health in a worse state because of the anxiety that benefitted me academically but harmed me mentally.
Marijuana is often used to alleviate the negativity and unnecessary stress swarming inside the mentally ill brain, especially for people who don’t have prescription drugs or who don’t want to take them. Taking pharmaceutical pills is unsettling to many people, which is why marijuana, a natural plant, could be a good alternative. It’s also much easier to access, especially in college when people start to understand and recognize the shortcomings of their mental health.
Luckily, parents today are more understanding and resources are easier to access for those seeking the help necessary for their personal and academic success. For example, JMU does a great job of advertising about services provided by the counseling center and local resources that help anyone who feels mentally unwell, which is often caused by overwhelming stress induced by academics. The first step is to acknowledge personal feelings and the second step is to desire improvement or change.
Mental illness doesn’t go away unless those feelings are situational because an individual isn’t happy in their environment. Often, it’s a result of trauma and regrets that fill the mind, but sometimes there’s no evident cause at all. Regardless of the reason, everyone finds their own ways of coping with mental instability and marijuana is a popular choice among many. It’s not to be used exclusively, though, because individuals should be actively making positive progress through their actions and ways of thinking.
A big reason why marijuana is used may be because individuals are afraid to admit to themselves and their family that they have a mental illness. Although the criticism of mental illnesses has reduced and acceptance has increased, an individual may have their own beliefs about it, but ultimately, it’s nothing to be ashamed of or to be hidden from the world.
Through counseling, I found that I had depression and anxiety, and as soon as I accepted that, I understood myself better and was able to stop putting myself down. I tried various medications, but there was always some side effect that made me not want to continue taking it; drowsiness, loss of appetite, inability to focus, increased anxiety attacks and so on.
Marijuana isn’t exclusively used for the purpose of escaping one’s mental illness. It can be used by anyone recreationally and is often used in social settings or for any desire of temporary detachment from the real world. Marijuana shouldn’t be deemed a bad drug or vice, because it’s extremely helpful for some people. The negativity associated with it is a trigger of guilt and forces people to hide parts of their identities. Every brain is unique: There’s no universal solution to improve one’s mental health, and marijuana is the only natural one, aside from positive, active change.
Madison Roach is a senior WRTC major. Contact Madison at firstname.lastname@example.org.