Monday, June 21, 2010

The Horrors of Marijuana

Dakota County, MN AG James Backstrom took to MPR to frighten the hell out of people about cannabis today:

Marijuana is not the harmless substance many would like us to believe. Marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health risks to its users. Short-term effects of marijuana include memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, and loss of motor skills. Long-term adverse impacts include loss in muscle strength, increased heart rate, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, impaired ability to fight off infections and risk of cancer

Every one of those is also an effect of alcohol and/or tobacco. Should we declare a war on Mr. Backstrom's evening glass of Bushmill's? In fact, marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol or nicotine.

Even more troubling is that marijuana serves as a gateway to the use of other illegal drugs. Most people who use methamphetamine, heroin or cocaine started their illegal drug use with marijuana.

Are people still trotting out this talking point? I thought we dismissed this as a bunch of claptrap long ago. Isn't it possible that people who try marijuana as kids are in situations where there is more exposure to drugs of all kinds?

Last, but certainly not least, there are strong links between marijuana use, violence and other criminal activity.

Again, would this be the case if marijuana weren't illegal and most widely available in areas of high crime and poverty? I would be SHOCKED if any of these studies controlled for socioeconomic conditions.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak recently commented about middle-class Minnesotans who are buying marijuana "with a wink and a nod, thinking it has nothing to do with anything" when in fact these persons are "literally paying for the bullets that kill people." I agree with Mayor Rybak that "any person who buys marijuana in this region is directly or indirectly giving money to gangs." Recreational users of marijuana may not think of themselves as criminals, but they are in fact the biggest contributors to the illegal drug trade in America.

Good point. The drug trade is a bad thing. It gives money to bad bad people. So what should we do about it?

For all of these reasons, in my opinion marijuana is America's most dangerous drug. We need to recognize the threat it represents and continue our efforts to control it, prevent our youth from starting to use it, aggressively enforce our laws against those who illegally cultivate, distribute and possess it, and effectively treat those who have become addicted to it.

How's that War on Drugs been working for you so far? Guess how else we could get the money out of the hands of gangs, and ensure that those with problems get treatment? We could legalize it. Even Sarah Palin thinks we spend too much time and money enforcing drug laws. Yes, I'm closer to Sarah Palin on this issue than Mr Backstrom. If we're going to have a serious discussion about drug policy in this country, we do not need fear-mongering essays like this. We need frank and honest discussions of the pros and cons of our harsh enforcement of drug laws. We imprison the highest percentage of our population of any country in the world, yet we haven't eradicated the drug trade yet. Maybe it's time to consider a change of strategy rather than doubling down on a one that has been failing for decades.

1 comment:

  1. maggie.danhakl@healthline.comOctober 2, 2014 at 1:36 AM


    I hope all is well with you. Healthline just published an infographic detailing how marijuana affects the body. This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

    You can see the overview of the report here:

    Our users have found our guide very useful and I thought it would be a great resource for your page:

    I would appreciate it if you could review our request and consider adding this visual representation of the effects of marijuana to your site or sharing it on your social media feeds.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    All the best,
    Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

    About Us: