I recently ran into this article on MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37779968/ns/health-addictions/
I know pot smoking is quite common…particularly in Austin! Now, I’m a believer that things in life are mainly in shades of grey – there are very few things in this world that are black or white. With regard to drug use, there many people out there who fall at one extreme or the other when it comes to pot use: either it is inherently bad or it is inherently harmless (or even beneficial). I’ve personally heard many people extol the virtues of pot and downplay any possible side effects. As described in the MSNBC article, these researchers from the Netherlands found that people with schizophrenia seem to be especially sensitive to both the positive and negative effects of cannabis use. In fact, for persons with schizophrenia, cannabis use tended to increase the symptoms (e.g., hallucinations) rather than alleviating them (as many users believe).
My personal belief is that people must be very cautious about taking any drugs, and mood-altering drugs are no exception. Such drugs, including marijuana, have an effect because they affect the circuitry of the brain. While mood-altering drugs may not always lead to harmful consequences, if one already has a predisposition to fragile circuitry in the brain (e.g., bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), then there is a danger that mood (and thus brain) altering chemicals can prove to be the tipping point for some users.
One might argue that prescription medications, such as Prozac, Paxil, and Xanax are mood altering drugs as well. I agree! Such prescription medications should not be used indiscriminately as well!