The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.
We have to hand it to NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the globalists, led by George Soros and others of his ilk. They have managed to make cannabis legal for medicinal purposes in 30 US states, and recreationally legal in eleven states plus the District of Columbia. Not only that, the cannabis lobby has also managed to virtually quash any attempts by the medical, psychological and religious communites, not to mention plain ordinary American moms and dads who simply don’t think it is right for people to use drugs, for fear of the safety of their children.
In an earlier piece, linked here, I wrote about my observations of life in the United States, insofar as I observed it over the last three months in New York and in Colorado, two places I traveled to recently. One very peculiar result of my writing about the problems that cannabis is causing a great number of residents in Colorado was an onslaught of comments that all said the same thing: “Pot has never hurt anyone.” / “No one has ever been killed because of smoking pot,” and the most banal, “this is Reefer Madness (an old movie about marijuana) being played over again in our times.”
The stunning thing about these comments was the utter lack of perspective the people offering them displayed. For example, alcohol is widely regarded as dangerous, as are other mood-altering drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, speed, crack, heroin, other opioid derivatives and so on.
But somehow, cannibas sativa, a.k.a. “pot”, “weed”, “ganja” and so on, is, at least for these commenters, nothing short of a miraculous substance, perfectly safe to use, and not at all the cause for any problems, no traffic fatalities, and nothing else. There is not one mention of broken families, broken homes, destitute people, homelessness, inability to function at work and a host of other problems. Nope – cannabis is truly the wonder drug – it only does only good for people and nothing bad. Ever. And God help you if you say anything otherwise.
This is part of a normalization campaign, aided and abetted no doubt, by the fact that people who smoke cannabis (and who know they ought not to), justify their actions because they think nothing is happening to them, therefore this stuff is okay for everyone, and indeed, no one should be prevented from having access to it. Now, to be fair, some people do suggest age limits, like 21, or even 18, but these seem to be token offerings, especially in light of the fact that these ages do not actually signify anything significant regarding one’s ability to be responsible for themselves. (We will explore this further in a subsequent piece.)
It is unlikely that everyone who makes such comments is actually active in an official pot normalization campaign, but it seems very likely that those using the drug and those unwilling to take a stand against it (perhaps out of fear now, like many other issues in America), abet the agenda of the activists. People that use it usually cannot tell if or when cannabis is causing them problems, and the high from the drug helps them think everything is wonderful, so they tend to think positively about it, and therefore, they promote its use. People that stand by in silence are worn down by the pro-pot narrative to the point where, against their own better judgment, they too come to think that there really is no problem with this stuff. This deduction is arrived at only partly from information, the bigger effect seems to be what happens when a person gets shouted at all the time. They can either fight back and get mauled, or they can “surrender on their own terms”, keeping their real opinion to themselves, but by acting passively they silently help promote that which they disagree with. We see this in other woke campaigns, such as that with LGBTQrstuvwzyz and the Trump / Russia / impeachment / whatever else narratives.
However, two recent pieces published in the Philadelphia Inquirer blow some significant holes in this tide of nonsense.
The first one simply gives information about the forthcoming referendum in New Jersey this year to legalize recreational marijuana:
The Democratic-led Legislature passed a proposed ballot question by three-fifths majorities in both chambers, setting up a November 2020 vote on legalization of recreational marijuana.
Voters will be asked whether to approve letting those 21 and older use the product. The measure would also subject cannabis to the state’s 6.625% sales tax and let towns tax the product as well.
If approved, though, it’s unclear how quickly the product could be on shelves. That’s because legislators expect having to pass more legislation to regulate the drug.
Of note is that the New Jersey State Legislature is Democrat-led. It usually has been Democrats that are given to causes like this. However, not a small number of libertarians also support legalization, though their rhetoric is that “people can be responsible for themselves” and not have to have the government be a policeman or nagging mother for folks who ought to be able to do anything they want with their lives “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.”
That stance would be okay were it true that pot doesn’t hurt anybody else (or the one using it.) This is where the other piece in the Inquirer weighs in (emphasis added):
Not long ago when Joseph Garbely, chief medical officer for the Caron Foundation, reviewed younger patients starting drug or alcohol treatment on his unit, he usually saw people shaking, sick, and seizing from alcohol or opioid withdrawal. Marijuana was seldom what put them in those medical beds.
That has changed.
“A few years ago, it was rare to see a young person enter Caron with marijuana-induced psychosis,” said Garbely. “Now we see it on a regular basis. Older teens and young adults — approximately ages 18 to 26 — are the most impacted. We see a significant misperception about the safety and efficacy of marijuana among our teen and young-adult patient population.”
And here come the cries. “Reefer Madness redux!” “Pot never hurt anyone!” “No one has ever died from pot!”
Except that these pre-programmed knee-jerkers probably didn’t read the piece at all, choosing instead to attack it for its title. The piece is actually quite specific about cases of people that ARE being hurt and worse (again, emphasis added so the stoned pot smokers reading this far can get more stirred up):
While it was once doubted as an addictive substance, treatment professionals now say they are seeing more adolescents and young adults with cannabis use disorder. Often starting in their early teens, many graduate to daily use.
“The majority of cases we see of substance use disorder are marijuana,” said Ned Campbell, medical director of Rehab After School, an intensive out-patient program for adolescents in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia area.
In-patient admissions have increased, as well.
At Caron, the number of patients who were admitted with a primary diagnosis of cannabis use disorder increased more than 22% from 2014 to 2019. In those five years, people admitted to treatment for marijuana addiction rose from more than 27% of Caron’s total admissions to nearly 40%.
Independence Blue Cross, the region’s largest health insurer, has seen claims for cannabis use disorder treatment rise substantially. Between 2012 and 2018, there was a 180% increase in marijuana treatment claims. That included a 100% claim rise for patients ages 19 to 25. Claims for adolescents requiring treatment went up 25% during the same period.
Terri L. Randall, medical director of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Substance Use Disorder Clinic, said it has become more common for young patients to experience such bad reactions as extreme anxiety and even detachment from reality from cannabis use — and continue using.
“The fact that kids continue to use, even despite an adverse experience or unpleasant experience with marijuana, is really concerning to me,” Randall said. “Not only are they having difficult consequences of their use, but they also are finding themselves using more and are unable to control their use. That really is at the heart of the diagnosis of addiction.”
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more emergency department visits due to marijuana,” said Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s poison control center. “We’re seeing more people with paranoid delusions. We’re seeing a lot more people with signs of acute psychosis.”
To that end, I can independently verify this claim of pot causing psychosis to a case I know personally. I met a young man in Florida who is from a country outside the United States, moving there with his family in early childhood before he was a teenager.
While there he got introduced to pot, at about the age of 14 (which was also the common age of introduction to pot as long as thirty years ago). Recently, this youth, now 28, experienced, in his own words, a “psychotic break” while smoking “weed” every day, and he completely lost his mind. While in this state, also considered by medical professionals involved as a “schizophrenic break”, he committed a felony, directed to it by the voices he was hearing in his head.
He is currently awaiting trial, and is in a state of house arrest. It is his own assessment that the marijuana smoking was chief factor that led him to do what he did.
No doubt the activists have either tuned out already (perhaps they were too stoned to pay attention this far, one of the reasons I am keeping this piece on the long side.) Whoever is left that is reading this – you are probably the people I need to reach.
The notion of “leave this issue alone and it will go away”, or its corollary “maybe if it is legalized, people will actually use it less” are both comforting thoughts but false ones. Homelessness in Colorado appears to be declining overall, but the number of unsheltered homeless people in Colorado almost doubled in the period 2015-2018. These are the people who literally are living on the streets. In San Francisco, the number of homeless people has risen something like 70-80% since 2015:
While we must fairly say that other communities in the Bay Area registered both rises and drops in each of their own homeless populations, the overall trend seems to be increasing, and the centrality of San Francisco itself as the major population center in the region may be part of it. The availability of free needles for IV drug use may be another.
No doubt you have already heard of the large scale of poverty, homeless people defecating on the sidewalks, needles to be found on the sidewalks and on the street, and Hazmat teams called to literally clean the cr*p up.
But what does pot have to do with people shooting up?
Plenty, actually. I know something of the drug treatment centers, having been through one and having worked for it, as well as over 33 years of involvement in recovery groups. There are a few basic natural ‘laws’ for how drug-use usually happens. The principle I want to focus on is called progression.
Progression is the course that many drug users take during their using career. In layman’s terms, there are two types of progression and both usually occur simultaneously. The first is progression in terms of requency of use, which for the addict, always increases, primarily around the person’s ‘drug of choice’, simply put, that drug whose effects are preferred. The second type of progression is an that of an increase in the variety or range of substances used, based on strength. For example, most people start with pot or alcohol, and later the retinue grows to add more substances: speed, ups, downs, cocaine, crack cocaine and others. The progression always moves from the ‘weaker’ drug to the stronger.
This is the place where a neat rhetorical loophole was created for pot, considering the substance a ‘gateway drug.’ The notion of ‘gateway’ was originally used for cigarettes, which, although truly physically addictive (due to nicotine, a known fact), do not have the psychoactive components that mind-altering / mood altering drugs do, and that cannabis has in particular. However, the term ‘gateway drug’ began to be used for pot, giving the impression that pot itself is harmless but other controlled substances were. As we have already seen, this is false reasoning. Let us return from this necessary digression to the issue of progression:
While the variety of drugs increases for most people and while they also exhibit cravings for their “Drug of choice” which is not always pot or alcohol, the use of these earlier substances usually remains. This has been reported many times by people I helped in treatment, that when no cocaine was available, for example, that didn’t mean the the person who preferred cocaine just didn’t get high. They used anything they could, and owing to the great availability of pot when it was illegal, they got it. Now it is legal in many places, so it is much easier to get, and far stronger than it was decades ago.
In a different piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer, we see this statistic from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), with emphases added again:
About one in five young adults in the United States uses marijuana, and that could be contributing to the high rates of depression and suicide in that group, a new study suggests.
The research, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, reviewed data from nearly a dozen studies that included more than 23,000 people. It found that marijuana use in adolescence is linked with an increased risk of depression, as well as suicidal thoughts and attempts, before age 32.
That is 20%, folks. That is a lot of using youths, a far higher amount than I remember in my days working as a paracounselor. While many of these people will escape actual addiction, a great many of them will not, and their problems will perpetuate throughout their life and the lives of those around them.
The researchers were strangely quick to caution that marijuana does not seem to cause mental illness, though given the context here, it appears that whoever said that was trying to avoid a lambasting from the normalization groups. The Inquirer piece continues:
“But if you put everything together — animal studies, brain imaging studies, these types of meta-analyses where you study association — we have an indication at least that adolescents should be aware not to smoke cannabis,” said Gabriella Gobbi, a coauthor of the study and professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal.
“Given these restrictive characteristics, we have confidence that the data is quite good,” Gobbi said. “Not perfect, but good.”
The researchers concluded that about 400,000 cases of adolescent depression in the U.S. are potentially attributable to marijuana. “Cannabis is a serious public health concern,” they wrote.