Cannabis Addiction Is Not Heroin Addiction. That Doesn’t Make It Any Less Real.

A large minority of people have trouble with cannabis, and for those people, it’s important to find help.

When I tell people that I am a clinical psychologist who treats people with cannabis addiction, the response that I receive can often be disbelief. “Marijuana is a natural and medicinal plant,” people tend to voice. Versions of this argument can also be found in almost every comment section of any cannabis-related news story. This is correct—cannabis is natural. Cannabis can also have medicinal benefits for problems such as certain kinds of pain and chemotherapy-induced side effects. There is even upcoming research on the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives in the treatment of particular psychiatric disorders, such as those involving post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms (though this is both a complex and contentious area of research). Nevertheless, the fact that cannabis can have medical benefits does not preclude its propensity for addiction. Neither does the fact that cannabis is natural—so are opium, coca leaves, poison ivy, and dirt. Cannabis can be helpful, and it can also be addicting.

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