Blue dream haze Pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, reefer, ganja, cannabis, hash, Bubble Gum, Northern Lights, Fruity Juice, Afghani #1, Skunk, and dozens of other nicknames - call it what you will, marijuana is still the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. And the decades-long debate about whether it's good or bad for you continues at all levels of society, from research scientists down to the pot-smoking stoner in the street. Whatever the answer is, the latest government treatment figures reveal marijuana as the primary drug of abuse in 15 percent of all admissions to treatment clinics and drug rehab programs in the United States - more than a quarter of a million people.

Let's take a quick, brief look at the history of the pros and cons of marijuana.

Back in 1936, an anti-marijuana documentary-style propaganda film called Reefer Madness was shown in b-rated theaters across the US. It begins with a teacher warning pupils and their parents against the dangers of marijuana. But a group of students fall prey to pushers, and descend into madness and murder after they smoke "reefers". Treatment in a proper drug detox or drug rehab environment is never suggested as a solution. In those days, reefers were the end of life as we know it. So that was one early, and we admit, extreme view.

Incidentally, a year later new anti-cannabis laws were introduced by Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger, widely considered to be the country's first "drug czar", who told Congress: "If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marijuana, he would drop dead of fright."

Now let's jump forward a couple of generations. By the 1960s, any questions about negative effects, addiction problems, or the need for marijuana abuse drug rehab has little relevance. Millions of Americans now view pot as a benign and helpful herb - peace and love, brother! But the government continues to battle marijuana with harsh penalties for possession and distribution, and pushers are still called "drug peddlers" - as if the word "peddler" carries some negative, evil connotation.

Blue dream haze  Meanwhile, scientists have not been idle. On the one hand, marijuana has proven to be helpful for a host of medical problems. It dramatically reduces the side effects of chemotherapy and improves the appetites for cancer and AIDS patients. It reverses some of the effects of glaucoma. And most recently, at Harvard, marijuana smoke was discovered to reduce lung cancer tumors by 50% while reducing metastasis, or spreading of the disease. There's no question that it is helping patients in some medical areas, but the question remains as to whether marijuana's side-effects - problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, and others - might lead to the need for drug detox or drug rehab even among medical patients.

On the flip side, other studies show that marijuana is the easily-available and most common stepping-stone to "hard" drugs, adding not only to the numbers of people committing drug-related crime, but also of addicts requiring drug rehab. A UK study points to an increase in psychoses by as much as 40% among long-term users, while an Australian study warns that teenagers with a certain genetic vulnerability are at risk of psychosis just by smoking pot once a week.

Whether marijuana is a benign and misunderstood substance bestowed on mankind by a benevolent Mother Nature or an evil scourge that drives people crazy isn't the real issue. Blue dream haze  The issue is that, like it or not, marijuana is not the benevolent bringer of peace to man, but a continuing source of problems in our society. And the evidence for this is the hundreds of thousands of people needing treatment and drug rehab every year because of their involvement with marijuana