I was shown an anti-marijuana ad when I clicked on one story, and I clicked on the website. It is at http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/drug_info_truth_healthhazards.asp
Lies. Lies. And more lies.
Why are so many people so determined to keep Pot illegal, but care nothing about the terrible effects of alcohol on our youth - indeed, on our entire society?
Well, I don't know, but that isn't what this topic is about. It is about the "dangers" of marijuana use.
In the interests of candor, I will admit (as I did on every security clearance I ever filled out) that I have used it. Not while on active-duty, but that is because I took an oath to obey the UCMJ and the UCMJ forbids it. I always felt it stupid to outlaw it though, as I watched my peers drink themselves into a stupor every weekend, as I watched Regimental Calls and Prop Blasts and Rotor Washes and Hail and Farewells (all kinds of military parties) constantly degenerate into drunkfests, often with the blessing of commanders and senior NCOs. Sure, guzzle Tequila every night, you are ok as long as you don't report to duty intoxicated. Smoke a joint during your leave back home and you become a "bad" soldier and your career ends. I never thought that made much sense.
But maybe I was just lucky that Marijuana didn't destroy my brain. Those who feel any "libral" has a destroyed brain can rest assured that intelligence tests place me in the top 2% nationwide, technically a "genius." My opinion is that I am very good at taking tests written by people who think like me, and people who don't score as high on standardized tests can and often are twice as smart as me. Intelligence tests are crap, but I can point to them to show that smoking pot did not destroy my brain. But as I said, maybe I was lucky. So lets get the "facts" from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.
"Effects of Marijuana on the Brain. Researchers have found that THC changes the way in which sensory information gets into and is acted on by the hippocampus. This is a component of the brain's limbic system that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Investigations have shown that THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus. In addition, researchers have discovered that learned behaviors, which depend on the hippocampus, also deteriorate."
Ok, that sounds bad. But look at it closely: "THC changes the way sensory information" is "acted on by the hippocampus." Wow. But if it didn't you wouldn't get high. You know what else changes the way your body processes sensory information? Cocaine. Heroin. LSD. Of course it should be illegal. Oh, and beer. Scotch Whiskey. Wine. Tylenol 3. Over the counter pain-killers to a small extent, prescription pain-killers to a large extent. The change to the way the body processes sensory information is just a fancy, scary way of saying "getting high." Changing the way you feel is not harmful in and of itself, and in the case of pain relief, it is a positive good. If you expect somebody who is intoxicated - whether with legal or illegal substances - to NOT have trouble with learning, memory, or the "integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations" then you are intoxicated yourself. As for "emotions" and how they are affected by pot, I would much rather hang out with a stoned "I love you man" dude than either a crying drunk or a drunk who thinks he can kick the entire world's ass. Give a bunch of rednecks some dope and they get high and act stupid - by themselves, and usually the biggest problem is they are laughing too loud. Give them whiskey and get ready for a brawl. So the key to all this is how long does the effect last? Is it permanent? Does it do lasting damage? This scary paragraph presents absolutely no facts that indicate marijuana is harmful, only that it makes you high.
"Effects on the Lungs. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs."
Ok, this is bad. It appears smoking harms your lungs. Surprise. Yet tobacco is legal. Well, dope smokers absorb three to five times more tar and carbon monoxide, which "may be due to" holding the smoke in the lungs and inhaling deeply. Still, we don't see anything here that suggests it should be illegal. And the "may be due to" is crap. The government says that so that it can't be proven a liar. Legal tobacco is consistent, manufactured to an industry standard, with few impurities and with quality control in place. Marijuana is illegal, thus it varies widely in its quality and its delivery mechanism. If dope were legal then it would be legal to study ways to lessen the effects of smoking on the lungs. For instance, a higher THC content coupled with higher-quality leaf could result in faster, more efficient delivery of THC to the smoker, coupled with much, much less a percentage of impurities. With more powerful joints that contain fewer impurities it is totally concievable that smoking dope can be made much less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But we will never know, will we?
In addition, marijuana can be ingested in many other ways than smoking. It can be reduced into pill form, with absolutely NO effects on the lungs. It can be baked into brownies - no effect on the lungs. Thus this paragraph is no reason to keep dope illegal, but MAY be a reason to include that "Surgeon General's Warning" on packs of joints sold legally. Maybe.
"Effects of Heavy Marijuana Use on Learning and Social Behavior. A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours. Researchers compared 65 "heavy users," who had smoked marijuana a median of 29 of the past 30 days, and 64 "light users," who had smoked a median of 1 of the past 30 days. After a closely monitored 19- to 24-hour period of abstinence from marijuana and other illicit drugs and alcohol, the undergraduates were given several standard tests measuring aspects of attention, memory, and learning. Compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing, and using information. The findings suggest that the greater impairment among heavy users is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana."
Wow. So dope makes you stupid. Doesn't it?
Read it again. "A" survey? After years of research by a government eager to prove dope is harmful we have "a" survey? One? Which compared 65 "heavy" users to 64 "light" users? That is it? No wider study? Hmmm.
Then there is the nature of the study itself. It compared "stoners" to the occasional "toker." Have we any data comparing heavy drinkers to social drinkers? Why was there no control group which didn't use marijuana at ALL? My guess is that "drunks" also suffer impairment to their learning and social behavior. Don't you think so? This "scary" paragraph shows that people who get stoned every day have greater difficulty processing information than those who don't. Duh. We needed a study? The same holds true for alcohol, or narcotics, or any mind-altering substance. This "study" simply shows that people who overuse dope have "issues." People who have too much water DROWN. That doesn't mean you should blame the water, because the cause is TOO MUCH WATER, not WATER. Same for dope.
Then, as I said, why didn't they compare the light users to non-users? I'll bet they did, but the government simply didn't report what the study surely found - there was no difference.
And there is the "chicken or the egg" question. Did heavy users have trouble processing information because they smoke dope, or do they smoke so much dope because they have trouble processing information? At my high school the champion stoners were almost always those who were laggards academically and/or socially from elementary school onward. They had "issues" well before they ever smoked a joint. The few exceptions (me being one) who smoked a lot of dope but were "good" students and fit in socially seemed to suffer no ill effects. I myself was a national merit scholar, graduated a top-20 law school, and smoked dope. Isn't it possible, even likely, that those who decide to smoke dope heavily may have had their problems BEFORE they smoked dope, and this study's findings actually can be interpreted in reverse? By this I mean "a study of marijuana use has shown that those who have problems with learning and social behavior are more likely to be heavy users of marijuana." There are several ways to determine this, but it has not been done? Well, at least it wasn't reported on the antidrug.com's website.
So this paragraph doesn't give any reasons why the drug should be illegal, or that it is harmful to society. It says that those who smoke too much have problems. So do those who drink too much. Or eat too much.
"Longitudinal research on marijuana use among young people below college age indicates those who used have lower achievement than the non-users, more acceptance of deviant behavior, more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with delinquent and drug-using friends."
"Longitudinal" research? WTF does THAT mean? Maybe I'm just too much of a "stoner" to understand such fancy language. Oh, wait, I'm a damn lawyer, I LIVE for fancy language. So what is "longitudinal research" mean? It simply means the study followed the young people over a period of years. I wonder why a website designed to communicate with the public used such a fancy word. My guess is to make it sound more clinical and "truthful" and convincing. So anyway, this "longitudinal study" found that non-users had higher achievement than users. Again we have the chicken and the egg problem, but remember, this study deals with people below the drinking age. Those that engage in any form of law-breaking are more likely to be non-achievers, aren't they? The same results could be found in studies of alcohol use - and have been found. The same results could be found when comparing those who abide by a curfew when compared to kids who don't, or when comparing strict parents with those who aren't. The study does NOT show that dope causes less achievement. Less achievement may result from factors that also make it more likely to smoke dope, though. Or drink. Or have sex. Or get arrested. Getting arrested doesn't cause lower achievement any more than smoking dope. All of the factors listed (more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with delinquent and drug-using friends) are not CAUSED by smoking dope, but a result of other issues that LED to smoking dope before the kid was old enough to legally drink.
Then there is the shocking relevation that non-users were less accepting of "deviant behavior" than users. Well, doesn't that make sense? If the non-users were more accepting of "deviant behavior" wouldn't they be more likely to engage in it, and the fact that they don't engage in deviant behavior, such as smoking dope, is because they don't accept deviant behavior? Duh? Classic chicken or egg problem.
That is it on the anti-drug.com's "health hazards and effects" page. that's all. In short, the government's website designed to communicate the health hazards of dope was a mish-mash of mis-information and misdirection. No wonder kids that have tried dope are more rebellious. They know the adults lecturing them on the "dangers" of pot are full of crap.
Oh, but it is the "gateway" drug, right? If you smoke dope on Monday, by Friday you are smoking crack, right? Well, maybe not on Friday, but you are LOTS more likely to use hard drugs, right? right?
Well, that little-respected think-tank always involved in loony research, High Times has - ooops, I mean THE RAND CORPORATION, has done a study that shows this simply isn't true. Here is a link: http://www.rand.org/news/press.02/gateway.html
The study says that "associations between marijuana and hard drug use could be expected even if marijuana use has no gateway effect. Instead, the associations can result from known differences in the ages at which youths have opportunities to use marijuana and hard drugs, and known variations in individuals' willingness to try any drugs, researchers found." It goes on to say that when "enforcement resources that could have been used against heroin and cocaine are instead used against marijuana, this could have the unintended effect of worsening heroin and cocaine use."
Hmm. So efforts to prevent marijuana use are a misuse of resources. Those Rand guys are all stoner freaks anyway, right? No, I don't think so - and if they are stoners, it should pretty well dismiss all the claims that smoking dope makes you stupid.
Antidrug.com also says "Kids who use marijuana weekly are four times more likely to engage in violent behavior than those who don't." Well, does marijuana cause the violence? This is simple to determine. The effects of THC on the brain are well-known, and a tendency toward violence is NOT an effect of THC. In fact, THC seems to have the opposite effect. Smoking dope does NOT make you more likely to engage in violent behavior. Hard alcohol, on the other hand... Plus, I wonder what the rate of violent behavior is among kids who drink alcohol weekly. See how they twist the truth? "Kids who use marijuana weekly" - how does that relate to "adults" or less than "weekly" or the use of other illegal substances (and both alcohol and tobacco are illegal substances for kids, remember). As an adult I don't even drink weekly. Any kid who smokes dope weekly is engaging in illegal behavior on a weekly basis. Surprise - they are also more likely to engage in violent behavior. Did marijuana cause this? No. No way. As anybody who has been around somebody stoned (or have been stoned themselves) knows, you are more likely to end up with somebody who thinks the Cartoon Network is the funniest thing ever (try Aqua-Teen Hunger Force if you want to see them die from laughter while stoned. It's pretty funny when you are sober too.) More violent? No way, dude. Again, simply more disinformation and scare tactics by our government.
What other scientific studies does the Antidrug.com have to buttress their case of the dangers of dope? See http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/drug_info_research_truth.asp. Count how many of these studies either include alcohol (legal) or other actually-dangerous drugs in the study, meaning dope is guilty by association rather than anything directly related to marijuana's "harmful effects."
The government even goes so far as to say "Research shows that marijuana use can lead to addiction." What research is that? This "research" shows that dope "can" lead to addiction. Well, tobacco DOES, and it is legal, and alcohol is much more likely, and there are LOTS of studies showing that dope is NOT addictive. Google this if you want "research" to prove me right, or want to attempt to prove me wrong. You might even find the "research" that shows dope can lead to addiction, because I couldn't.
I'm not suggesting kids should be allowed to smoke dope legally any more than I would suggest they should be allowed to drink or smoke tobacco or drive without a license or any other potentially risky activity. But I am not a kid, and I don't like my government telling me I can't grow or smoke dope because kids might come to harm - especially when their data is scant, misleading, or simply wrong.
In a supposedly free society, shouldn't it be the government's job to prove my use of dope harms others, instead of my job to prove it doesn't? Well, even if there are no studies to support it, if the people have passed laws then that is the way it is - which is why I never smoked dope on active duty. I promised the nation I wouldn't.
That isn't the point, though. It seems very dangerous to me that our government would seek to justify keeping dope illegal through misinformation, deception, lies, and misdirection. Giving an honest assessment of the harms of marijuana, or lack thereof, is not harmful to democracy. The truth never is. Having a government that doesn't mind misleading us, or lying to us, seems much more of a "harmful effect" than anything that can come from your lighting up a joint on your porch and watching the sun set while BB King plays on the stereo and Pasadena traffic passes by below. But then, I'm a hippie radical don't you know.