Sometimes the simple statements are the most helpful: marijuana is not a harmless drug. There. Now let the controversy continue.
Marijuana is a medicinal herb, in the sense that it includes molecules which effect brain function and mood and related aspects of human psychology and physiology. In the same way, basil and oregano can be viewed as medicinal herbs (and they are, in some cultures — look for tulsi, a.k.a. “holy basil”).
A medicinal can be considered a drug when it is packaged for a specific impact, based on presence of active molecules in it. This can be medical (a drug-based “medicine”) or other (an illegal drug people take to “get high”). Marijuana contains an active ingredient THC, as well as several other more recently-observed active ingredients.
There is no doubt that alcohol is a drug, in the commonly-accepted senses of the word. Alcohol is used in medicine (mostly to kill germs) and is comprised of specific molecules which are specifically used (such as “to get buzzed” or “to relax”). Effectiveness is measured by proportion of active ingredient (“proof”). Alcohol is a drug.
We know alcohol is not harmless. It is legal (with restrictions) and is known to cause a substantial portion of society’s problems (medical, and otherwise). However, most of our clerics, judges, and police officers choose to drink alcohol. For some reason there is still debate about marijuana being “harmful”.
The marijuana industry itself is working to prove otherwise. Aggressive selective growing has led to extremely high-dose strains containing orders of magnitude higher percentages of active ingredients like THC. There is clear scientific evidence now that psychosis is related to marijuana use in those susceptible to psychosis. There is clear evidence that younger starts with marijuana lead to more health issues which are traceable to marijuana use. As we jovially noted in “pot makes you stupid“, plenty of researchers are interested in working with marijuana. They are almost certain to find health issues associated with the molecules in the herb, aided by the surge in potency and increased use by younger consumers. That would happen with any “medicinal”, especially if commercial interests purify it and strengthen it, while it grows in popularity.
The next question should not be “is it harmful” but rather a question of health risk and personal choice: is it acceptable for the cleric, the judge, and the cop to consume marijuana (under regulated conditions) the way they consume alcohol now?
I wish we would jump forward to that question and address it, as a society, so we can move along. Because in the mean time, while we argue about what should be obvious (that marijuana is not a harmless drug), people are dying:
- The “War on Drugs” issue: the “War on Drugs” pretends to be protecting people from evil drug dealers and addicting drugs, while in reality it puts people behind bars (for a profit) and ignores the demand side of the equation (why is it popular??).
- The Prohibition issue: when a popular herb is made illegal, with serious mandatory punishments for breaking the regulatory laws, then only law-breakers can get it. That means the populous (those who made it “popular”) have to makes deals with illegal drug dealers to get it. This is known to contribute to the cycle of addiction and drug abuse, among other major problems.
- The Power/Control issue: when people in positions of power and authority (church people, law enforcement people, bad people with guns) argue over basic definitions (such as “soft drug” and “harmless”), they bring in other factors to polarize their audiences (which takes us away from what we all know is true — that marijuana is a drug, and that marijuana is not harmless).
I could get even more direct and propose that righteousness is the root cause of all of these problems, including the debate about whether or not marijuana is a harmless drug. But that would be too dangerous. There are literally armies of people who identify themselves by righteousness. And if you’ve ever seen Pulp Fiction, it’s not wise to anger the righteous man.
So instead here is a plea to move forward to the next step — should be be allowed to “drink in moderation” with our marijuana, and if so, how does it get regulated? And if not, preppers are advised to start getting ready for the “alcohol wars” that are almost certainly going to start.
PS: I’ve made some claims in here without references, but that is for brevity. A simple Googling should produce most of whatever I’ve suggested (such as the psychosis connections). I’d rather the debate move forward to “should we allow…” and therefore am not anxious to stir debate about which research is acceptable research, etc. I believe the evidence at this stage is very supportive of a claim that marijuana is no longer “harmless” just like alcohol is not harmless.