Last updated on: 5/30/2008 | Author:

Can the “High” Associated with Marijuana Provide a Benefit to Health?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Daniele Piomelli, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of California at Irvine, stated in a Mar. 16, 2000 USA Today article titled “Marijuana: The Good, the Bad, the Truth,” by A.J.S. Rayl and Stephen A. Shoop, MD:

“If the life of the person is at stake, the question of the accompanying ‘high’ becomes a moot point. It is my personal opinion that in situations like these – terminal cases – concerns about the ‘high’ should be set aside…

Anything done in excess is bad for you. If you compare different evils, marijuana is probably one of the least and probably should still be considered as such. That is not to say that marijuana is harmless. It is a drug. All drugs – legal and illegal – can be harmful.”

Mar. 16, 2000 - Daniele Piomelli, PhD

PRO (yes)


The Institute of Medicine published in its Mar. 1999 report titled “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”:

“The high associated with marijuana is not generally claimed to be integral to its therapeutic value. But mood enhancement, anxiety reduction, and mild sedation can be desirable qualities in medications — particularly for patients suffering pain and anxiety.

Thus, although the psychological effects of marijuana are merely side effects in the treatment of some symptoms, they might contribute directly to relief of other symptoms.”

Mar. 1999 - "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base" Institute of Medicine


George McMahon, an author and medical marijuana patient of the US Federal Drug Administration’s Investigational New Drug (IND) Program, and Christopher Largen, an author, stated in their 2003 book Prescription Pot:

“Occasionally, friends asked me if I ever got high from smoking black market pot. It was difficult to make them understand. First of all, I had to get them to clarify what they meant by ‘high.’ I certainly didn’t feel inebriated or dull-headed. I didn’t walk around in a stoned, lethargic stupor. I didn’t wail and guffaw at terrible jokes or philosophize about the linoleum floor in my kitchen. My response to marijuana simply did not fit the prevalent stereotype of ‘getting high.’

People who have never struggled with a life threatening or disabling illness often do not comprehend how debilitating the resulting depression can be. Long days spent struggling with sickness can wear patients down, suppress their appetites and slowly destroy their wills to live. This psychological damage can result in physiological effects that may be the difference between living and dying.

The elevated mood associated with cannabis definitely affected my health in a positive manner. I was more engaged with life. … If you feel better, you are better.”

2003 - George McMahon Christopher Largen


World Science, a website, stated in its Nov. 25, 2006 article “Pot May Be Both Good and Bad, Researchers Say”:

“This effect [getting ‘high’] can be helpful because excess release of glutamate — which is also an essential chemical messenger in the brain — is implicated in various disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

This … may explain why THC-like compounds, called cannabinoids, help protect brain cells in cases such as ischemia, or blocked blood vessels; excitotoxicity, or overstimulation of nerve cells; and even physical injuries.”

Nov. 25, 2006 - World Science

CON (no)


Alison Mack, a science and medical writer, and Janet Joy, PhD, Senior Program Officer at the US Institute of Medicine, wrote in their 2000 book Marijuana As Medicine?: The Science Beyond the Controversy:

“[C]annabinoid-induced euphoria or sedation may simply mask symptoms, leading some users to the false belief that marijuana improves their medical conditions. That is a problem if it causes patients to choose marijuana over more effective conventional medicines that have fewer undesirable side effects.”

2000 - Alison Mack Janet Joy, PhD


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated in its online article “Marijuana” (accessed on Dec. 29, 2006):

“As THC enters the brain, it causes a user to feel euphoric — or ‘high’ — by acting in the brain’s reward system … in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do, by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. …

Marijuana’s damage to short-term memory seems to occur because THC alters the way in which information is processed by the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation.”

Dec. 29, 2006 - US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)


The Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy organization, stated in its online brochure “Facts You Need to Know About … Marijuana” (accessed Jan. 2, 2007):

“Very little of the THC absorbed into the blood of the lungs reaches the brain at the time of the ‘high.’ … When pot is smoked regularly, a large supply of THC accumulates in the fat. This produces a high steady level of THC in the blood, which causes continual sedation. The brain is numbed. The mind is in a fog. …

Their minds become so confused that many are caught in a life of drug abuse. It is difficult to escape, because regular pot smokers must quit pot for over a month before they can think clearly again.

Since THC is continually in the body, the ‘high’ from pot gradually diminishes, and so pot smokers usually take other drugs to get a kick. Nevertheless, they continue to smoke pot as they use the other drugs, because they think pot makes them ‘feel good all the time.’ Most pot smokers drink alcohol heavily, and many become so confused that they take cocaine or heroin.”

Jan. 2, 2007 - Eagle Forum