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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Medical Marijuana'

In recent days, a number of people have talked to me about 'medical marijuana.'  Some ask whether I support it, and I have to say that I've tried to keep an open mind on the matter, but the evidence looks bleak.  Getting woken at 5am by a very-stoned marijuana user is just as troubling as the late night 'drunk caller.'  I've had both in recent days (or late nights/early mornings to be accurate).

Now, I do think that some priests in confession make a big deal about marijuana usage, much more than it deserves.  As a legal matter, there is cause for concern, but I think we ought not put marijuana usage in a category any different from getting drunk in general.  If a confessor holds a double-standard when it comes to alcohol versus marijuana intoxication, I think he might want to reflect a bit more on the topic.

I found a very interesting website that covers the topic:

The web site founder posts information from all sides of the matter, and I think that is an admirable effort.  My own attempts to find general information not attached to some kind of advocacy has been rather difficult.  While I have not been through the entire site, it does look promising in what I have seen so far.

There are a few additional points that I would like to bring out:

1) Marijuana is clearly linked to schizophrenia in certain cases, just as alcohol can cause psychosis in some people.  It is a gamble, and is certainly not harmless.

2) When you buy medicines, there is always a recommended dosage and the product itself is regulated.  'Medical marijuana' raises lots of red flags because all you get is a card saying that you have have it, but dosages are not regulated and 'patients' are not supervised.  Also, collective and dispensaries are not regulated by the FDA, so who knows what you are getting along with your high?

3) Marijuiana, aside from intoxicating its users, offers no real aesthetic pleasure either in aroma or flavor, and so its usage itself is really just about getting 'high.'  For example, alcohol-containing substances offer a variety of flavor-able experiences in its various forms.  What I mean is that alcohol comes in many ways: wine, beer, liqueur, etc.  It is often enjoyed in a variety of pleasant forms.  'Pot' is just pot.  Even tobacco can be blended and enjoyed with a number of different aromas and tastes, whereas marijuana varieties are generally identified by their intoxicating effects.  So, the whole experience is a one-note whistle.

4) This is more of a personal observation, but marijuana users seem to have a difficult time regulating their dosages.  Perhaps that's because its effects are less violent than alcohol, but it also has to do with purity and observable quantity: qualities within marijuana vary greatly, so the user places himself at risk every time he tries a 'new batch.'

5) I'm always turned off by dishonestly, and a lot of proponents of medical marijuana seem bent on trying to say what is obviously incorrect: it is harmless.  Baloney!  There are lots of chemicals released in smoking marijuana, and it has as many toxins a cigarettes.  I would have a great deal more consideration for proponents if they would just say the truth, "It is dangerous, it has bad side effects, but I really want to get high using marijuana."  That's the bottom rung of the ladder, but few wish to tread this foundational argument because it seems infantile.  Sorry, but that's really what is at stake.

Marijuana can be controlled in a way alcohol cannot: alcohol is easy to make, but growing pot plants is time-consuming and difficult when forbidden.  Just visit the local 'hydroponics' shop and see what 'attic farmers' have to spent to grow their beloved plants, whereas a plastic bag with sugary water and a little yeast instantly makes you a home-brewer:

I've looked around, but can't find any videos pertaining to the 'home-brewing' in dry villages in Alaska, but this comes close: 

Anyway, the main point is that marijuana can be much more effectively controlled than alcohol can, but the larger point remains: we will always have addicts, and addicts can get addicted to just about anything.  

But, that does not mean we should throw in the towel, just as we should never give up on trying to be better people even though we fall a hundred times a day. If you give up, it will swallow you whole.

If marijuana is going to be medicinalized, then it should be treated as any other medicine.  Prescriptions should not be treated as 'get-out-of-jail-free' cards.  The lack of consistency here is troubling, where 'medical marijuana' is treated as an entirely separate medical category from all other prescription medications.  Doctors should be looking for signs of addiction, something we are not hearing about from the prescription-mills.

From my point of view, 'medical marijuana' has many troubling aspects.

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