San Francisco, California is believed to be the starting point of marijuana culture, particularly its normalization. In fact, according to the The Washington Post, because the habit is such a staple activity of the city, nothing really changed much when it became legal to smoke weed earlier this year.

But is it possible to get addicted to smoking marijuana? Health experts argue that, indeed, it is a known phenomenon, but they believe it's something people don't know exists. Worse, some think it's not legitimate.

The Washington Post notes that marijuana addiction is a "well-defined disorder" characterized by cravings, dependence, and withdrawals symptoms — just like any other addiction.

Marijuana Addiction Is On The Rise

Health experts believe this form of addiction is rising, although the cause is unclear. They speculate it's a combination of increased THC potency levels in genetically engineered marijuana plants and the fact that people smoke it several times per day. The increasing legalization of the drug in many places could also be a contributor.

Physician David Smith, who specializes in treatment of all forms of addition, says the question isn't whether marijuana can develop into full-blown addiction — the better question, rather, is why it appears to be affecting more people.

It's hard to put a pin on the exact number of marijuana consumers in the country, especially since it's unclear what makes a person qualify as a user of marijuana. How many blunts do they have to smoke a day, for starters? But health experts believe 9 percent of all marijuana users develop an addiction, and 17 percent of them have been consuming it since their teenage years.

Marijuana Addiction Compared With Other Addictions

But even though marijuana addiction is real, it isn't as pernicious and fast-acting as other addictions. It can take months, and sometimes even years, before a person develops a legitimate addiction to it. What's more, there has never been any report thus far of a person overdosing on marijuana and dying afterward. Similarly, there has never been any report of a person going through typical withdrawal symptoms because of marijuana addiction.

Those factors make it hard to believe that marijuana addiction is real, despite the advice and caution of health experts. The lack of easily identifiable symptoms doesn't help, either. However, symptoms are not the only indicators of an addiction.

"Someone can become dependent on a drug without meeting the criteria for addiction," said neuroscientist and cannabis expert Josh Kaplan. 

In any case, it doesn't take an expert to confirm if one has an addiction or not. If a person begins neglecting personal, family, or work obligations just to consume more weed, then they should probably be concerned about their possible addiction. 

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