Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I’m all for medical marijuana and the regulation rather than criminal suppression of pot.
I think that I would probably rather see kids smoke pot occasionally than see them get involved with the other recreational substance available both legally and on the black market…but there is an aspect of legalization that bothers me: people are going to be idiots and misuse marijuana like they misuse everything else. And it pisses me off.
Marijuana has the potential to be a substance that can help us manage chronic health problems without the sometimes fatal side effects of pharmaceuticals.
It can be a relaxing, yet mind opening form of attitude adjustment that won’t kill you in the process. But people aren’t going to use it like that.
With the more is better attitude Americans take with everything,people are just going to be stupidly stoned and teens are going to waste their best years of opportunity, in a jaw gaping haze, watching the fish in their aquarium.
Any thoughts on this?
Yes, Unfortunately, we need laws to make things clear to the stupidest people- like those tags on lemon scented detergent that say “not for human consumption,” or those labels on coffee that say, “warning: HOT!”
In our system, regulations are shaped from lawsuits. In the case of marijuana there’s no one to sue thus no accountability. Regulations are also why there really is no such thing as “medical marijuana.” It is not a medication; at least not yet. It is not regulated by the FDA. It is an herb that has achieved its own special category. This does not mean it doesn’t have its uses, but there is so much misinformation, politics, culture and desire that no one really knows what it does or does not do. Most importantly, there is no real accountability.
Marijuana is not bubble gum. It is mind altering. It can have dopamine side effects: de-realization, the wiggles, restless legs, paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble focusing and concentrating. Although rare, these can become permanent, especially if there is a family history of mental vulnerability. Marijuana can also substitute for otherwise healthy adaptive behaviors. And no form of burnt carbon is good for anyone’s lungs.
Yes, a lot of psychiatric medications may be more dangerous and many are even more abused but at least there is supposed to be some measure of review and regulation. Marijuana is not treated like any other medication. It is not subject to the same standards of review as any other medication and that is worrisome.
Until we can sue someone for what ills marijuana causes us it should not be on the open market as there will be no way to shape stupid people’s behavior around it.
Look at tobacco. The law suits around that product have really made a difference in what we know about it and how it is used in this country.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: Dr. Brilliant has unwittingly backed up every argument I have for the legal regulation of marijuana in his efforts to argue against it.
I understand the danger in the irresponsible use of marijuana and I wholeheartedly agree that there is no way that anyone can abuse pot without losing valuable time and brain cells. I also think that teens should stay the hell away from it while they are in their formative years. But what I think doesn’t really mean crap. I’m not the one who is making every individual’s choice for them.
First, we need to address this question: is it possible to stop people from using pot by continuing to make it illegal? The answer is no. In fact, in Amsterdam where pot is legal, teens have a harder time obtaining it that they do here; the government is pretty strict about prohibiting sales to minors. But here in American anyone, at any time, can get pot from someone on the street, at work, in school or at home. We are not going to stop kids from smoking pot by keeping it illegal.
Next, we have to ask this question: does education have any effect on teens and substance abuse? Thankfully, the answer to this is a resounding YES. It is not the threat of legal action that has caused the teen smoking rate drop drastically since the 1980’s. That decrease is due to monumental efforts to warn the public about the dangers of tobacco. Everyone has to make their own decision to control their addictions; and that is the ONLY reason anyone is ever successful.
Oh, and about this matter of FDA approval- the FDA has been approving medications for years that never should have left the factory. The biggest requirement for getting the FDA to approve something is to be a huge pharmaceutical company with lobbyists, a padded bank account, and dreams of profits. Substances can cause addiction and have life threatening side effects and limited effectiveness yet still be approved if someone stands to make money off of them. A recent update on a study by the NY Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 210,000 deaths per year in this country are associated with pharmaceuticals and preventable harm in hospitals; the true number may be more than 400,000. What science left out of their approval procedure is this: people use these drugs and apply these procedures, and people are idiots. The FDA can’t do a damned thing about that.
If people don’t make their own choices there is no real change, there is only suppression, which as the Victorians can tell you, generally produces more perversion and damage than whatever is being suppressed. Education is the only answer.
Accountability is something that comes from legalization. You cannot account for any substance which is unregulated, moves through the black markets and is sold by criminals. We are not going to make any headway in getting teens to understand the real consequences of marijuana until we take it out of the back alleys and regulate it in a responsible manner.