Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I have been ambivalent about the recent moves to legalize pot by my state government. However, a recent article I read has alarmed me.
It mentioned that new studies indicate that even occasional marijuana smoking appears to be associated with changes in the brain regions involved in motivation, emotion and reward compared with non-smokers.
I have listened to arguments on both sides of this controversy, and up until now, the points seemed valid from each opinion. Now I am wondering.
I know that you are strongly against the legalization of marijuana, can you comment?
Every medication can cause potential harm, in fact many are outright poisons; but administered in small doses, they can be of benefit. Used for targeted purposes in small amounts a poison can bring about a positive result. For example, serotonin is a natural substance in the body but in large amounts messes up your blood pressure and can kill you. Used properly, medicines can assist our body in doing something it should be doing anyway or it can prevent our body from doing something it should not be doing.
Marijuana, like all other substances, has the possibility to be used in a helpful way. The problem that I see is that this isn’t the way it is being used.
Medical marijuana is not technically a medication; it has not been put through the studies and research other medications are required to go through. It is only now that it is gaining wider use that data is being generated to evaluate how useful it is and what the consequences are. But the study is essentially taking place in the general population without anyone’s informed consent that they are in a study. This was the way in which medications were released in the 1950s. Some were introduced in the subways and many people were unknowingly observed as to the consequences. Except for marijuana, it is illegal to do this anymore. But politics overran common sense and public safety, and marijuana was prematurely introduced on the general population as a medical substance. Yes, it was already there, but it wasn’t being sold as medication to fix and cure anything and everything.
Marijuana probably does have medicinal properties. Possibly for diabetes, possibly for pain; but marijuana as a plant has many ingredients in it, some more poisonous than others. There are new strains being introduced to limit the THC and increase the flavonoids and these might not have toxic qualities. Marijuana might be someday be a good treatment for something but now it has very limited usefulness in a limited population where it’s advantages outweigh it’s disadvantages. Thousands of people who don’t meet medical criteria are at this moment in line to buy it at the many moneymaking facilities that have been prematurely opened for purely political and economic reasons.
I am not against the possibility of medical marijuana use. I am against the way in which this is happening. I am against the current policy of medicating the entire population because of the treatment of an individual, even if the population is dripping with desire for it.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: the fact that this recent research is coming out only now that marijuana is gaining legal ground shows why it is important to legalize marijuana. Up until now, it’s uses and effects have been largely heresay and experience through the unregulated alleys of life.
I have thoroughly researched the matter and found that the drug studies which Dr. Brilliant refers to in the 1950’s were not medical studies, but rather studies perpetrated by the US government to see the effects of substances, often for military use. There is no resemblance between the type of research which is now being openly done, and the horrifying secret operations carried on by the government in the 1950’s. In addition, there are countless pharmaceutical drugs that have been researched and approved which end up being recalled due to complications which could not be foreseen until the medications were released into the general population and their effects studied over time. Any medical study is done within an extremely small cross section of the population, for a limited time, and it is simply not possible to anticipate widespread or long term effects and interactions. In this sense, every medication is an experiment upon the general population. They are just not seen as such because of the regulation and documentation at initial, limited, phases of study.
I would like Dr. Brilliant to speak with any cancer patient who is using marijuana, patients with cancer, chronic and crippling pain issues, glaucoma or wasting diseases, and ask them whether they feel that marijuana has no proven medical effect. It seems absurd at this point to say that marijuana has no proven medical use. Simply because it has not gone through the exact testing procedures as pharmaceuticals does not mean that the medical effects do not exist. That is like saying that China does not exist if we don’t officially recognize it.
With the potential of widespread legalization and efforts towards regulation, more is known about the immediate and long term effects of marijuana than ever before. And, since it has been clearly stated that marijuana will not be sold to under aged teens, one can anticipate that the same publicity campaigns given to the negative effects of tobacco will be shown to the public in an effort to stem the use of pot by kids with developing brains.
There is another reality going on here which must be addressed, and it is an economic and legal one. Dr. Brilliant has argued that kids don’t get their pot from dealers, but rather from friends and family members and this may be true in some cases. But where does he imagine those friends and family members got the marijuana from? Stop & Shop or the mall? The illegal drug trade is a multibillion dollar industry that contributes to the death and exploitation of hundreds of workers and enforcement officials. Keeping marijuana illegal supports the illegal drug trade and deprives the economically battered state governments of an opportunity to develop a legitimate and well regulated industry to stoke badly depleted coffers.
The use of marijuana is an unstoppable tide. Continuing to fight to keep marijuana in the class of illegal streets drugs is an effect that makes as much sense as the prohibition of alcohol in the 20’s and early 30’s. Prohibition made a lot of ruthless crooks rich, but it did nothing to stop people from drinking.
Legalizing marijuana is not an indulgent nod of approval by the government for pot’s unchecked recreational use. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of marijuana’s existence and long term realities, and an effort to bring an already existing aspect of our culture into the light where it can be examined with clarity by everyone.