For years, marijuana advocates claimed that if only America would loosen restrictions, we’d all see how beneficial the drug is. But now, more than 10 years after the first efforts to do just that, we are seeing that the critics were right. Liberal pot laws and increased usage are far from the panacea pot-lovers claimed. Starting back in 2012, Colorado passed a law to allow private use of marijuana. Soon the state of Washington joined the Centennial State in loosening its pot laws. And many more came in the following years, especially when the states began to realize it could tax “legal” marijuana and bring millions into their state treasuries. Now even the federal government is looking to loosen the reins and is preparing to take pot off its Schedule One prohibitions, a move said to be the first step in decriminalizing marijuana. But now these states are finding that it is time to pay the piper, as a raft of ill-effects are spreading like wildfire all across the country. From mental illness to addiction and impaired driving, the effects on many are not as beneficial as advocates claimed. There do seem to be a very few beneficial uses for pot for a small number of people. It does help in pain relief for the chronically afflicted, it can help with nausea from chemotherapies and it is sometimes effective for those with anxiety. But all those benefits are limited and are far outweighed by the deleterious effects seen when widespread use is factored in, according to a raft of new studies reported by the Daily Mail. With a pool of more than 40 million pot users to look at, researchers are finding that recreational use of the drug is becoming an increasing problem everywhere it is being tried. As the Mail noted, researchers from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have found that despite claims by pot advocates, the drug is just as addictive as any other drug. And 41 percent of users have developed major problems with depression. The research found that chronic marijuana use quadrupled risk of developing a bipolar disorder and added to a rise in psychotic breaks, including thoughts of, and deaths by, suicide, with pot linked to 30 percent of cases of schizophrenia. The researchers added that people who already have a propensity for these mental disorders often find that pot makes them worse, not better. That is nothing like the benign effects pot advocates claimed we’d be seeing. Pot advocates also claimed that one can’t really become addicted to the drug. This has also been revealed as false. “New research from University of Washington and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute estimates 21 percent of marijuana users had become addicted,” the Mail reported, adding that at least four million Americans have developed “marijuana use disorder” since pot became so much easier to get. Another claim that many advocates have made is that pot will calm you and make sleep come easier. This is also not true, studies have found. “A 2021 study in the journal BMJ reported adults who used cannabis 20 or more times in the previous month were more likely than non-users to get six or fewer hours of sleep per night,” the Mail reported. In addition, 39 percent of daily pot users developed clinical insomnia. An even more alarming study says that pregnant women will put themselves at a 70 percent higher risk of birth defects if they regularly use pot during pregnancy, and they will be 2.3 times more susceptible to a stillbirth. Also, “A 2022 study published in JAMA Pediatrics found prenatal cannabis exposure after five to six weeks of pregnancy is associated with attention, social and behavioral problems that persist into early adolescence,” the Mail reported. Finally, the evidence seems irrefutable that heavy pot smoking is just as bad on your body as heavy tobacco smoking. Smoking anything — pot or tobacco — increases the risk of coronary artery disease and also puts users at an increased risk of lung disease. A study from Canada found that “three-quarters of marijuana users had emphysema – a lung disease which leaves sufferers struggling to breathe — compared to two-thirds of tobacco users,” the Mail wrote. While it might be a better idea to go to a prescription model, where only seriously ill people are able to gain access to pot, it seems clear that recreational and non-medicinal use has had detrimental effects on Americans. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.