Thursday, January 15th, 2015


For Immediate Release – January 15th, 2015

Refining Marijuana Arguments: Let’s Get Real

For some of us it has taken a lifetime for attitudes about marijuana use to soften to the point that it could become legal in some states and widely adopted as a medicinal product. That second factor alone differentiates smoking grass from its often-cited sin sister alcohol. To wit: You never saw “a glass of wine every day,” written on a prescription pad, even though it is widely cited as having health benefits.

The respected medical information site WebMD tackled that question and appeared to have no problem finding doctors who recommended their patients indulge in wine on a regular basis, given studies have concluded that is good for the heart.

This peculiarity finds us at another parallel with marijuana use and alcohol in that a glass of wine on a regular basis and a bottle or two of wine every day are two entirely different things. A bottle of wine every day is a sure path towards two bottles every day, and alcohol is well documented as hell on wheels for anyone who crosses the line into alcoholism.

There is hardly a body organ not affected by years of abusing alcohol. The liver is often the first to go, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the body has been spared. The word “pickled” mean anything in this context? Absolutely.

Both anti-marijuana and pro-marijuana groups point to alcohol use and abuse to make their arguments. But the correlation is flawed and we can’t let this influence our thinking about marijuana completely.

Where does repeated marijuana use cross over into abuse and addiction? Well, those are two entirely different things. A pain doctor I talked to recently explained that one slight puff of Mary Jane can clear your head, allowing for improved concentration and overall cognitive function. But it is all to easy to cross the line and find yourself in a marijuana stupor, which is not precisely recommended for driving a school bus, piloting a plane or running a chainsaw, if you catch my drift.

This tells you something: Abuse is circumstantial. The definition of marijuana abuse differs from people sitting on the beach and for those directing traffic at a busy intersection. This guide helps to put the issue in perspective.

Take this concept into any state legislature across the country and you will find out quickly how lazy your elected officials are. You could write a law saying, “Marijuana can be used legally on your day off from work, but it is legal to fire someone who is stoned at work.” Quickly, you will see that lazy politicians have a point. You can’t legislate to every circumstance out there. Life has too many variables. (Example One: What if a surgeon is stoned at the beach and gets called to work for an emergency? Should that surgeon be allowed to go to work high as a kite?)

Lawmakers do not like complicated. They know law enforcement officials don’t like complicated. Courts don’t like complicated. It may make sense, but laws are how we slice through arguments, like Alexander The Great cutting through the Gordian knot. Cutting through complications with a sword is easier and quicker than unraveling them.

This gets us to the worn-out arguments about marijuana addiction.

The ancient fault line was the point that anti-marijuana factions postulated that marijuana use leads to addiction to so-called “harder drugs,” like barbiturates, speed or opiates (aka heroin).

Like early suspicions that cigarette use caused lung cancer, the standard response to this accusation was simply “Prove it.” For over 150 years, cigarette companies waited for proof to come along. An awful lot of people died before research finally proved the point. By then, cigarettes were so widespread, you could say the culture was addicted to nicotine.

Similarly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find a correlation between heroin addiction and recreational marijuana use. And there may never be proof on a cellular, chemical or biological level. But people on a path of self-destruction have to start somewhere. It falls to reason that people addicted to heroin – especially in areas where both marijuana and heroin are illegal – also have higher than average correlation to marijuana use.

Let’s just say the argument could be shifted. Forget the idea that marijuana use has a correlation with heroin use and just target “people on a downward spiral of self-destruction.” Would it be possible to get the entire political spectrum – from anti-marijuana types to daily smokers – on the same page? Smoking marijuana doesn’t eliminate a person’s capacity for altruism or does it? The same could be said for those opposed to marijuana use. Everyone is on the same page there, one can hope.

Back to that bottle of vino described up above. Is there a difference between taking a head-clearing puff of weed every four hours or so and wolfing down a bong hit just as often as you can sit up to do so? That would seem self-evident, of course, just as it would be completely impractical to enforce a law of that nature – trace amounts OK if you’re driving a car, but the sky’s the limit when you’re bowling. I can just hear what local police would say about that.




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