I smoked my first joint at 17. I hope you’re not shocked. Actually, I don’t care if you are and the reason will be clear if you read on.
It was the late 1960s and I was introduced to it by a young man who looked like Jesus. That’s all I remember. Oh, and that I was a little freaked out that I’d done it, but not enough to refuse it. “Pot” is what we called it back then, not the “weed” it’s called today. During college I continued to smoke pot like older kids drank. Like I said, it was the late 1960s and pot was in its hey dey. It and drawing peace symbols on black armbands. And stringing love beads. After college, as a young married, it was available as part of our social scene, just like cocktails. It was just around.
It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Pot and hash were where it stopped for me. I never really got into alcohol, ever. I’m still not that into it. Later on–let’s say almost 20 years later, I enjoyed a brief flirtation with cocaine. When I started to want a serious relationship with it, I left and never looked back. But my house was never cleaner than when I did coke. And how lovely to be never hungry! But I said goodbye with nary a reservation. Because coke? It was a serious drug.
In my opinion, marijuana is relatively harmless–by FAR less harmless than alcohol, which is an established part of our culture but its use has killed far more people than pot. The abuse of anything can be detrimental to society and I don’t know why marijuana has been tarred with the same brush as, say heroin. But the abuse of marijuana is only rarely harmful to society. I know potheads with hard-driving careers and I know potheads with no motivation. I don’t know potheads who abuse their wives after hitting the bong, though.
I’m not against smoking a joint every now and again. I see nothing at all wrong with it.
Some segments of our culture have demonized weed so that even its documented benefits as medicine are hard to come by in some areas. It’s like we can’t think of the herb as helpful in any way–it’s all or nothing. And the misconceptions! So let’s talk marijuana misconceptions.
Studies showing effectiveness against some cancers are promising. Cure is a big word. Take it lightly here.
1. Marijuana leads to hard drugs. Opponents claim it’s a gateway drug. Oh, this is a conservative staple but it’s bullshit. Yes, virtually ever hard drug user has smoked weed first. But they’ve also drunk milk. Does milk lead to heroin use? No. National Academy of Sciences panel observed, ‘There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular drug effect.’ The Canadian Senate’s Special Committee on Illegal Drugs also concluded that ‘cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use…we reject the gateway theory.”
Some studies have shown clearly that marijuana use does not precede harder drugs. In Japan, most hard drug users do not start with pot. So, it’s a specious argument–superficially plausible, but actually, wrong. When I was in grad school my statistics textbook was How to Lie with Statistics. Anyone who watches Fox News ought to have that book by the remote. Those right-wing crazies are masters at it. I love a good, intellectual conservative argument, but those are hard to come by, especially regarding weed.
2. Marijuana kills. More than 37,000 people die each year from just alcohol use. Excluding accidental death. No one has died from marijuana use. American Scientist says that alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect could lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring thousands of times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death. This “thousands of times” is actually theoretical, since there has never been a case of an individual dying from a marijuana overdose. But the CDC says that hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur the United States each year.
3. Marijuana is harmful to society. Alcohol increases violent and aggressive behavior and is a factor in violent crimes. Marijuana use does not.
4. Marijuana harms health. The health-related costs for consumers of alcohol are eight times greater than those for marijuana consumers. Alcohol poses far more and more significant health issues than weed. And actually, even Dr. Sanjay Gupta has pointed out the health benefits of medical marijuana.
It’s hard to believe that all these decades later, the same tired old arguments are being raised and even harder to believe that some people think they are true.
They’re not. Let’s put these marijuana misconceptions to rest.
Do I think everyone should do weed? I don’t.
And especially not those in recovery.
But I see nothing wrong with it, medicinally or recreationally. And I think we are super-hypocritical about it when we look at the harmful effects of that American staple, booze.