The Age Old Debate!
by Ned Wicker
Many states have either legalized recreational marijuana, or are considering the
legalization of cannabis in some form, i.e. medical marijuana.
Back in the 1920s, prohibition was the hot topic, as speak easy saloons and bathtub gin were the rage. Today we have secret marijuana plants in every possible location. In Colorado, it’s becoming the state’s fastest growing industry.
But what are we in for?
The pro-marijuana camp maintains that smoking grass is harmless, the medical marijuana crowd shares that view only with a convenient excuse. I do know doctors who are in favor of medical marijuana, but in very narrow and specific circumstances.
For example, one medical director of a hospice facility told me that for some of is patients,
marijuana would be a good tool for managing pain, under very strict guidelines. He very quickly added that his strong belief was that the vast majority of those making the loudest claims were “pot heads” just wanting to buy cannabis legally.
Mostly, people want to smoke pot and get high, and an ever-growing number of people want it legalized. Prohibition didn’t work and I suspect most Americans don’t like being told they can't have something, to state-by-state, marijuana is bound to win the day.
However, the is marijuana and there is marijuana. That is really the issue I have with the frenzy over it’s legalization. The marijuana I knew as a youth, and I don’t hide the fact that I’ve had my share, is not the marijuana on the street today. The potency of the grass of bygone days is nothing compared to what people are getting now.
People don’t necessarily understand what that means. I was reading The Guardian on-line recently and read an article by its science editor Ian Sample. His story suggested, with proof, that smoking high-strength cannabis, may damage nerve fibers in the brain. The result of this is inhibiting the right side of the brain to communicate with the left side. Here in the U.S., we have developed what is called “skunk” which is aptly names for its odor.
It’s a strong, potent strain of marijuana that is grown in controlled conditions, such as a greenhouse. The article, citing a study, said that regular smoking of “skunk” had “revealed subtle differences in the white matter that connects the left and right hemispheres and carries signals from one side of the brain to the other. The changes were not seen in those who never used cannabis or smoked only the less potent forms of the drug.”
Sample added that neurobiologist Paola Dazzan from the Institue or Psychiatry at King’s College in London, linked the differences to the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the marijuana. THC is the active ingredient. Back in the day, the marijuana has 2-4 percent of THC, while skunk can have 10-14 percent. To give you a comparison. A really weak beer is 3.2 percent alcohol per 12-ounce serving. Shot of strong hard liquor might be 50 percent, or 100 proof. Or another way to put it, if you are expecting 3.2 beer and get moonshine, that’s quite a difference. The skunk cannabis is not to be taken lightly.
People likely to smoke it anyway, regardless of the warnings
Those who are going to smoke marijuana will do so regardless of any studies, any medical warnings, or any religious/moral warnings. The Surgeon General has had warning on cigarette packages since the 1960s but people still smoke and still contract lung cancer, and still smoke after they have been diagnosed, so all the information in the world isn’t going to change that.
Alcoholism is prevalent in the Unites States, drunk driving kills countless thousands every year, but people are going to drink. I included the link to the article I read, so you can draw your own conclusion.
Like so many things, this gets down to personal responsibility. You might smoke marijuana, even the most potent, for years and never develop any form of brain malfunction, or addiction. Perhaps you may never drive impaired, or have any kind of a negative episode that leads to calamity or personal injury.
But before a person takes something, should they not at the very least know the facts? Sure, it’s probably a great high, but at what cost? People have to make intelligent, informed decisions. Playing Russian Roulette with your brains is not a good idea, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do
People need to think about their choices. Paola Dazzan summed it up well in the article when she stated, “When it comes to alcohol, we are used to thinking about how much people drink, and whether they are drinking wine, beer, or whisky. We should think of cannabis in a similar way, in terms of THC and the different contents cannabis can have, and potentially the effects on health will be different.”
Remember the old car ad on television years ago, it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile? That sort of sums it up with today’s marijuana. Think first, then act. Then think it through again.