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Lady Gaga performs at a concert in 2009. Recently the pop diva admitted she was addicted to marijuana and "had to stop." Image ©Aflickion

Marijuana Not Addictive? “Not So” Says Lady Gaga

When the National Institute on Drug Abuse tells kids marijuana can lead to addiction no one wants to listen. It’s a common mantra shouted from high school hallways to university campuses and even CEOs that marijuana is not addictive. But now Lady Gaga, of all people, says otherwise. In an interview with radio host Elvis Duran on New York’s Z100, the pop star says she has “been addicted to various things since she was young, most heavily over the past seven years.” One of those “things” was marijuana, a substance she claimed to be smoking up to 20 times a day. “I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely. I had to stop,” she told Duran.

Of course there will still be legions who will disagree with the songstress. TV Guide’s website covered the story and a check of the hundreds of comments from readers repeats personal testimonials that there is no way anyone can become addicted to cannabis. Critics also say she’s riding the publicity coattails of Miley Cyrus’s latest “look at me” stunt at the MTV Europe Music Awards where she lit up a marijuana joint on live television. (Amazingly MTV censored the moment on its US broadcast.)

Now back to the scientists. At a time when many societies are petitioning for more liberal drug laws there are few scientific studies that have looked at the long term use of cannabis. (Remember it was less than a century ago when smoking tobacco was being touted as a health benefit.) Unlike pharmaceuticals that undergo rigorous testing prior to being introduced to the marketplace, there is little evidence to support the notion that marijuana is harmless. On the other hand, the small amount of research available (which is growing with each passing year) is showing not only addictive tendencies related to marijuana but other medical issues as well.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse references studies (which are footnoted on their web page) that indicate nine percent of people using marijuana will become dependent on it. This number rises to about 1 in 6 (16%) for those who start using the drug in their teens and to between 25 to 50 percent for daily users. In 2009 about 18 percent of people aged 12 and over who entered drug abuse treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

But it’s more than just addiction. Using drugs that impair our judgement leads to other serious consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that in 18 percent of car accidents in which the driver was killed, drugs other than alcohol, were involved. Marijuana use during pregnancy is suspect in resulting in a higher chance of children being born with neurological development problems. Other studies are showing links between marijuana use and mental illness.

Lady Gaga says she needs to learn how to be creative without being high. “Can I be brilliant without it? I know that I can be and I have to be because I want to live, and I want my fans to want to live,” she told Duran. Now lets hope this message does sink in with some of her fans—especially young ones who are convinced that without drugs they can’t be at their best.

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