In Season 2 Episode 6 of The Healthy Matters Podcast we talk with addiction medicine specialist Dr. Charlie Reznikoff about legalizing marijuana. As you recall, Dr. Reznikoff gave us The Inside Scoop on Addictions in Episode 4 of Season 1, and now he shares his thoughts about the current state of marijuana use in this country. Many states have now legalized it, both for medicinal use as well as recreational use. You are probably aware that a bill went through the legislature and was signed into law here in Minnesota last year allowing low-dose, hemp-based THC products.

“These products act just like recreational marijuana, and behave in the body just like that, but it’s only a low dose,” said Dr. Reznikoff. “They’re derived from hemp, which is related to marijuana, but not the same. And it has the active ingredient that is an intoxicant, so that that is available now throughout Minnesota in a variety of retail stores.”

Shortly after this podcast became available, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill that would legalize the use of recreational marijuana, likely going into effect on August 1.

We discussed whether this legal change would have a net positive, or a net negatives for individuals, and as a society.

“The most important number one benefit for the vast majority of people who use marijuana is that it brings pleasure and having some joy in your life,” explained Dr. Reznikoff. “I think it’s very reasonable that a lot of people are saying, ‘I want to have a little safe pleasure in the privacy of my own home to be able to use this intoxicant. It’s not that harmful. I use it appropriately.’ I think the number one upside for the vast majority of people is that it’s a relatively safe way to have a little bit of pleasure. And I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but I think that a lot of people just use it to relax.”

Is it a gateway drug to other drugs? What are the health benefits?  Is it healthier to smoke, vape or eat cannabis? We hashed out these questions and more on Episode 6 of Season 2 of The Healthy Matters Podcast.