*** Full disclosure: I despise drugs.
Nonetheless, in spite of my contempt for drugs and all things drug-related, I went through a very serious libertarian phase in which I was very much pro-legalization of drugs. After all, does a man not have the right to do what he wishes? Of course he does. Tragically, however, the death of my brother, a schizophrenic and subsequent drug abuser for much of his life, changed my mind, because the legalization argument takes on a very different color when the hypothetical death of a user is no longer out there, somewhere, as a kind of metaphor.
"But marijuana is different!"
No, actually, it is not, and I am going to explain why. First, however, a caveat...
Every medicine is poison, by definition: Medicines kill living things; they are directed at living things killing the patient, and therefore are useful- as weapons. However, in absence of a disease to target, they can just as equally kill the patient. The various substances derived from the poppy plant, for instance, include morphine, which is useful during surgery, but few would argue that it should therefore be available for public use over the counter. Marijuana too has medical uses that are well-documented. For instance, marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating Parkinson's disease, and in the treatment of grand mal seizures, both of which are life-destroying; it has also been shown to have palliative uses, for instance in the case of those suffering from terminal cancer. In these cases, marijuana is a useful medical treatment because its rewards outweigh its risks, but in no way does that imply that marijuana is not dangerous, or that it ought to be available over the counter.
The fact that marijuana is useful for medical purposes is well-established; the notion, however, that it ought therefore to be legal for recreational purposes is most decidedly not well-established, and in fact, the opposite has been shown.
So here is my case against the legalization of marijuana:
1. Marijuana is highly carcinogenic: This should be obvious to anybody who knows anything about biology. Anything smoked involves the inhalations of carcinogens, which is why marijuana users have elevated rates of mouth, jaw, tongue, and lung cancer (europepmc.org/abstract/med/1313532).
2. Marijuana causes both short-term and long-term cognitive impairment: This includes lack of motivation and impaired attention, not to mention core negative symptoms of schizophrenia such as paranoia (www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584603003105). Moreover, it also includes more long-term consequences such as long-term impairment of memory in adolescents and prolonged psychomotor impairment (europepmc.org/abstract/med/1313532), and that neuro-cognitive deficit impairments persist even after a month of abstinence (www.neurology.org/content/59/9/1337.short).
3. Marijuana destroys brain tissue: This includes deficits in white matter volume; white matter is the tissue that constitutes the corpus callous, the largest white matter structure in the human brain, and which is necessary in order for the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate with one another (www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920996411001423).
4. Marijuana increases the rate of spontaneous heart failure by almost 500 percent: This increase in myocardial infarction risk is present within 60 minutes of smoking, and then rapidly decreases (circ.ahajournals.org/content/103/23/2805.short).
5. Marijuana induces schizophrenia: This has been well-established. The increase in rate has been shown to be anywhere from four times higher (www.bmj.com/content/325/7374/1212?variant=full-text) to six times higher (europepmc.org/abstract/med/1313532), depending on the study. Schizophrenia, incidentally, is a horrifying psychiatric condition in and of itself, of which about half of those who suffer die by the age of 30, either by suicide or accidental overdose.
6. Marijuana is feto-toxic: This means that marijuana is poison to developing fetuses, and causes non-lymphoblastic leukemia in the children of smoking mothers; in other words, marijuana kills babies (europepmc.org/abstract/med/1313532).
7. Marijuana induces chromosomal aberrations in all mammalian cells: This means, in short, that marijuana fucks up your DNA, and it is, at least to the best of our knowledge, the only drug that does so. Marijuana causes "chromosomal breaks, deletions, translocations, errors in chromosomal segregation, and hypoploidy;" additionally, "cannabinoids also suppress macromolecular synthesis (DNA, RNA, and protein) as well as reduce the level of histone gene expression" (informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10826089009067003).
This is not an exhaustive list of research; there is much, much, much more out there.
Now, to finish my argument, I would like to make two comments:
1. For decades, liberals have been arguing that scientists cannot be trusted because scientists only care about money ("Big Pharma! Skreeeeee!"), but seem to strategically ignore the fact that this same prejudice would apply to those scientists who support marijuana legalization. This is probably due to the self-deception among hippies that nature- and therefore by extension all things natural- is good and just and kind (an absurd notion, especially as virtually everything in nature is designed almost exclusively to kill us). We have all heard the argument, "But it grows in the ground!" So what? So does heroin; so does cocaine. The fact that something is natural does not make it healthy. Rational individuals know this, but sadly, there is money on both sides, and it is equally corrupting on both sides. How are we to navigate this sea of misinformation then? By seeking out the truth, and the truth is absolutely unequivocal: We have decades of research; we should not cherry-pick our data in order to satisfy our preconceptions about what the research supports, especially if the only gain is getting high. The push for medical marijuana has, quite tragically, proven to be nothing but a Trojan Horse in the push for full legalization, and much to the detriment of those who do not know how dangerous the substance can be, and take their behavioral cues from the government by assuming the government would not legalize it if it were not safe for consumption. But, oh, how wrong they are...
2. Finally, I want to reiterate that marijuana does very clearly have medical purposes, but that these medical purposes do not imply that it is innocuous for recreational purposes. Moreover, as an adult, a person has the right to do as he wishes with his own body, including destroy it; however, he does not have the right to misinform others as to the effect that marijuana has on them, especially when those others are very oftentimes children who do not know better, and who trust adults to guide their decisions with wisdom, and, furthermore, in whom the effects of marijuana use, especially chronic marijuana use, are even more pronounced.
This fascination with self-poisoning as a sign of power (*cough* Tide Pods *cough*) is destroying an entire generation of children, and it is absolutely unconscionable to let it slide without a fight. But where have they learned this dysfunction? From their parents, of course! Or from artists and athletes who become surrogate parents when their real parents have abandoned the responsibility, which is more and more becoming the case in the world.
But that is for another post.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
10 April 2018