Cannabis legalization. Aka: Humanity’s need to self-destruct

We hear about more and more people standing up for the right to smoke pot legally as of late, and even in little Norway we can feel the impact of this discussion going on in the rest of the world. I realize that the arguments surrounding this issue are many and complex, and to some extent I can understand many of the opinions voiced. However, my automatic reaction is that cannabis is a drug that can cause big damage to the brain and to the body, and the thought of legalizing it contradicts a lot of what I believe in. Before we continue, I therefore have to make clear that these are just my own personal thoughts on the subject, and should be taken as such.

We are all aware of the damage pot can cause. Still there are a lot of people wanting to legalize it. The main argument that I have heard for doing this, is that it would minimize crime and release police resources to focus on more important things. Seeing as “so many” abuse cannabis already, making it legal would make this whole big problem suddenly disappear. As appealing as it sounds, the argument is the dumbest one I’ve ever heard. I mean, of course the crime rate would drop. If we legalize theft, raping and killing, it would also drop. Take away laws all together, there would never be any crimes at all. Amazing?

When we define something as legal or illegal, crime rate will drop or increase as a result of that – but our legal definition of something has nothing to do with the possible negative implications this definition can have for the society. So – drop the crime argument. It is irrelevant for what the discussion should really be about: how are the pros and the cons balanced?

Over to something else – namely the tendency to make pot a “nice” drug in comparison to other drugs. That when we see it next to for example heroin, it’s more or less cute and innocent. Going after the assumption that everything that doesn’t kill you, is harmless, this would make sense. However, the term “dangerous” is multi-faceted. Something can be dangerous because it kills you in an instant, and something can be dangerous because of the long-term-effects it can cause. What is certain, is that when you first start to smoke pot, the probability that you will start on harder drugs sky rockets.  That’s one thing that makes pot dangerous. Secondly, the long term damage you inflict upon your body can be severe.

On top of the damage you get from actually smoking the stuff and risk cancer in your lungs and respiratory system, you risk harming the Most Important Thing in your body: Your brain.

At first, smoking pot seems like a blast, because all you do is having a good time, relaxing, laugh with your friends and be comfortable. That’s what everyone want pot to be. But because smoking pot is such a positive experience, you risk smoking more and more, and smoking it over longer periods of time. These effects of pot-smoking often comes slowly, so you don’t understand what’s causing them, and they entail developing or worsening brain damags like disabled cognitive functions, bad memory, personality changes, poor reasoning and inability to see connections. Pot can also mess with your sense of reality and trigger serious diseases like psychoses, depression and schizophrenia. In other words, by smoking pot, you can damage the most vital thing you recieved when you became a living person. Because that is what the brain is.

Funny? No. Pot is not nice.

Then people say that it’s wrong to legalize alcohol and tobacco when pot is prohibited. That may be so. By all means, what we need is more things to destruct ourselves on. But where comes this need to find substances to abuse so that our bodies get broken? It’s like we’re little babies who screams to the government to feed us more candy. It should’t be like that. In fact, no drugs should be illegal for abuse at all, because abusing them should’t be something we wanted to do.

But obviously, we want to do it. We want to find new things to give us rushes and highes to lighten up our miserable lives. What we don’t see, is that it dulls us. It makes us slack and stupid. Right now, Jemen could be in the middle of a revolution. That revolution and a bettering in the people’s conditions will never come. Why? Because they all go around chewing khat instead of doing something with their lives, and that slows their minds. And khat is regarded as something far less dangerous than pot! Still it stupidifies an entire nation.

And so, ultimately, the discussion is about what kind of a society we really want. Ideally, no-one should feel the need to do drugs. It’s just so useless and needless and overrated, and the lows are so much worse that the highs are good. Of course, I understand that such a society will never be, because humanity is so totally set on destructing itself. Frankly, I don’t even understand that we have managed to survive this long, but I’m convinced that it’s due to sheer luck.

As for me, I hate the thought of what these things can do to our bodies. And on an even more profound level, I am of the opinion that the most important thing we owe ourselves when we’ve been so lucky to earn a life on this wonderful planet in the first place, is to treat ourselves good, and not damage ourselves. Us damaging our bodies is just such a disrespect to ourselves and the nature in general. Therefore the whole concept of debating whether or not to legalize drugs are just tasteless to me.

My conclusion – and again, this is entirely my own opinion – is: grow up, get real, start enjoying the magnificent life you have instead of always searching for things to get high on. All it really does is making you dumb, numb, addicted, depentent, helpless, boring and uninventive. Life in itself has so much good to offer when one just takes the time to appreciate it. Messing with your brain is not a cool thing to do.

3 thoughts on “Cannabis legalization. Aka: Humanity’s need to self-destruct

  1. Eivind B says:

    Sorry for posting this late, I forgot to post this after I wrote it and it might still need some work, but I think I can just post it at we can clear up anything that remains unclear.

    You bring up a lot of points in this post, Mari, that are worth addressing. I do however need to ask who this post is for, because it does not strike me as a compelling argument against the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis, and most of the arguments I find to be poorly represented to the point of being “straw men”, so I’ll try to reframe them a bit.

    Lowering Crime-rates: This is a steady argument, it does however not work for simple decriminalization, as in not persecuting people using, selling and producing cannabis. In that case, the production, selling and use of cannabis simply becomes free reign for the people doing it today, loweing the crime-rates, but not doing anything about the harms being done in the business of cannabis today. So on this point you’re right, when we talk about decriminalization. However, by legalizing it, bringing it into legal retail as a lawful drug, cannabis being produced to satisfy demand by authorized manufacturers, you deflate the criminal environmet that deals with cannabis today with a lot of it’s resources. Just like prohibition, the illegalization of cannabis has made it the trade of criminals, and just like with alchohol, the way you rid yourself with the problem of the “mafia activity” that now runs this trade, is by legalizing it and regulating it, just like we did with alchohol. That is the argument that really projects the lowering of crime rates, not the straw-man you layed forth up above.

    The Gateway Drug: This is an argument I have found unappealing by the statistics I have seen, and analysis of WHO-data has also found the link to be lacking to say the least (Source).

    It’s a nice drug: Altho this argument tends to in a discussion to boil down to what people have personally experienced, research appears to color cannabis more favourably compared to more conventional and legal drugs, Image (Source). Legalizing and regulating the drug might also give requirements on quality of the drug, how it’s supposed to be made available, and give good education as to how to avoid long term injuries, further reducing risk of serious injury because of the drug.

    Use and abuse: “Abuse” a word being favoured over “use” the whole post, which might be revealing of some bias. “Use” and “abuse” are not terms that describe the legality of something it does however show your sense of intent of a given substance. I would suggest ridding yourself of these biases when trying to make up your opinion on the matter, not make your pre-concieved notions of what is proper and improper use colour your view of the matter.

    Utopia: Dealing with drugs with the notion that we should not be craving these things in the first place is a mishap in arriving to a sense about drug policy that actually deals with what we got, a craving for substances that alter our perception of reality, an inate need for change, even in our selves. That need does not go away by making people criminals for using substances on their own body.

    Use of drugs is not disrespecting nature or ourselves, it’s in our nature, and of ourselves, it might be a quite primal nature, or even a part of our path to evolving a level of thought that we regard as higher than other animals. However we do need to mind the dangers for ourselves and the consequences of keeping this substance legal or illegal. We found the consequences of keeping alchohol illegal unbearable and too costly and the effect of people using it managable when legalized. You do mention that this is your opinion, but I hope opinion are informed by facts and in that way, opinions can be changed when new facts come to light.

  2. Joe Shaw says:

    I have suffered with bipolar since I was 15 years old many of your above comments and so called facts are just not proven I find that the use of cannabis can and often does relieve the more extreme symptoms I suffer from these symptoms include massive hyper activity, loss of concentration and uncontrollable anger for no reason. I suffered with theses symptoms long before I first tried cannabis for the first time the legal alternative for me was one of the benzodiazapines which are EXTREMELY addictive due to long periods of me been up I was accused by medical professionals that I had a benzo addiction problem and they will no longer prescribe the medication to help me remain calm when my temper or over active mind becomes to much to bare? I have found that cannabis helps when I am experiencing one of my hyper months or weeks I feel that your entire article is based on BAD science from the puritanical US why is it that I should be called a criminal; for something that helps to relieve my symptoms? Why should I have to use benzodiazapines which ARE HARMFUL AND ADDICTIVE?

  3. Mari says:

    Hi Joe, and thanks for your comment!
    I’m glad to hear that you’ve found something that can help with your illness. I have though not said anything about being completely against cannabis for medical reasons. As you point out, there are many medications that has severe sideeffects, and it is rare that you find illnesses that can be cured without some kind of trade-offs. In a case such as yours, cannabis can be viewed as an alternative treatment in the way that it releaves some symptoms, but as with other medications, comes with unwanted effects. The goal of best possible health should always be aimed at in such cases.

    However, the question of a bipolar patient in need of something to help releave his symptoms is something else entirely than the majority of those using cannabis (as you say, the drug helps with your most extreme symptoms, so it is somewhat of an exception from the norm). When it comes to young, healthy people with no apparent need to get high, I really don’t see the point of starting to use cannabis.

    Regarding your comment, Eivind, I don’t buy the argument of cannabis being one of the “nicer” drugs either, and as such should be legalized. It’s kind of the same argument that the Norwegian government uses to defend the continued extraction of oil istead of focusing on more environmental friendly energy: that the Norwegian oil is better and cleaner in comparison to fossil fuels other places in the world, and that that makes it “okay”. Oil equals emissions, just as drugs equals addiction and harm to your body and mind. Perhaps cannabis takes a longer time before it inflicts damage to your brain, but it does so eventually. I don’t see why that should be defended.

    And, yes, it is natural, but “natural” isn’t the same as “intended for us to eat, drink or smoke”. There are a lot of things in the nature that is dangerous or poisonous for humans, but we don’t put all of that into our systems. We are obviously highly selective in our intake of natural things.

    Now, I understand that many disagrees with me here, and that’s okay. For my sake, it has nothing to do with american puritanism, it has simply to do with the fact that I hold life in high regard, and I think our minds and bodies are the most important thing we have. Therefore I see no reason why we should destroy them. But by all means, everyone has a mind of their own to smoke away if they want to.

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