Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ms. Wente Has Gone To Pot

There was once a columnist for The Globe and Mail who wrote columns on important issues. She worked to hold governments accountable and point out the flaws of society. Then she started writing articles on marijuana. Now her life seems consumed by pot. Please, someone, help her before it's too late!

In all seriousness, Ms. Wente's new obsession with the dangers of marijuana use is a little absurd. Is weed good for you? Hell no. Is it worse than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco? No. There are plenty of sob strories about people who wasted their life because of alcoholism and died an early death due to tobacco but those drugs remain legal. The possibility for abuse is not justification for banning something. Harder drugs like cocaine and heroine are far more addictive and do far more damage to the human body. Marijuana is not benevolent, it's just not evil enough to ban.


KC said...

I read the latest piece by Wente on pot and thought it was pretty ridiculous. The ones sending "mixed messages" are the ones who insist that pot stay illegal when any person who makes themselves informed about the science can clearly see that, while admitted unhealthy to a certain degree, pot is not a social evil of such a magnitude to warrant the costs of enforcing the law (ie money, ruined lives, creating a black market, lost revenue) against it.

It makes the state and society look inconsistent and stupid. Nothing contributed more heavily to learning in my life that the state is fallible than learning the facts about pot.

On the other hand I think that people who support legalization need to stop calling pot "harmless". It is not "harmless" and insisting it is merely gives anti-pot forces an avenue to obfuscate debate by rebutting that assertion. Instead we should argue that the magnitude of the harm it causes is outweighed by the cost to society and the loss of personal autonomy inherent in criminalizing it.

Anonymous said...

it takes away your ambition and traps U with only one thought in mind'how soon will I be able to have more' That is not a life I want for my children ...I have members of my family who are the nicest..kindest....most loveable people and their main purpose in life get more weed.

KC said...

Anonymous -- Then educate your kids about pot. Criminalizing it sure isnt working. The fallacy in so many anti-pot arguments is that legal pot would be accessible while illegal pot is not. Illegal pot is not preventing your kids from becoming potheads.

Koby said...

Potent pot is more is more Drug Czar myth than reality. Only the Independent bought in and the Guardian took care of them.,,2041749,00.html

However, even if one assumes that potent pot is a reality it is certainly nothing to be concerned about. Indeed, saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense. The pharmacological affects of consuming 1 “chemically supercharged” joint, as various US attorneys like to say, versus x number of “dad’s joints” would be no different if the amount of THC consumed is the same. As for consumption, just as people do not drink the same volume of gin as beer, the higher the THC level in pot the less people consume. Hence, ironically more potent pot may be a welcome development. After all, one of the most prominent health effect related to marijuana, if not the most, is that it is usually smoked. The more potent the pot, the less people have to smoke to achieve the same high. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School concurs, so does Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California and so does UCLA’s Mark Kleiman.

Comparing marijuana strength through the years is "absurd," according to Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School , who consults patients, many of them elderly, on using marijuana to relieve pain and nausea. "The whole issue on potency is a red herring," he said. "The more potent the pot, the less you use."

Grinspoon said that studies have shown -- and his patients' experiences confirm -- that marijuana users smoke until they feel high -- or, as he prefers to say, "achieve symptom relief," -- and then stop, whether it took two hits or an entire joint. In this regard, today's higher-potency pot is no more "dangerous" than the bunk weed of yesteryear, he said.

unlike the speculative claims of increased danger, peer-reviewed scientific data show that higher potency marijuana reduces health risks. Just as with alcohol, people who smoke marijuana generally consume until they reach the desired effect, then stop. So people who smoke more potent marijuana smoke less – the same way most drinkers consume a smaller amount of vodka than they would of beer – and incur less chance of smoking-related damage to their lungs.

The original ONDCP "Facts" correspond with estimates from UCLA professor Mark Kleiman that marijuana has roughly tripled in potency. Kleiman also notes that there is no evidence at all that marijuana is getting kids more stoned than it used to. Writing on his own blog, Kleiman cites the respected annual University of Michigan study that asks respondents about levels of intoxication. Writes Kleiman: "The line for marijuana is flat as a pancake. Kids who get stoned today aren't getting any more stoned than their parents were. That ought to be the end of the argument." Kleiman points out that the average joint is now half its former size, so even if kids are smoking more powerful pot, they are smoking less of it. " 'Not your father's pot' is a great way to convince [boomer parents] to ignore their own experience, personal or vicarious, and believe what they are told to believe."

All that being said, if potency is the concern, then it should be legalized. As Martha Hall Findlay has noted, the only way to regulate the potency of pot is to legalize it. Moreover, so long as the drug is illegal, producers will seek to increase potency. The higher the potency the smaller the package the smaller the package the less likely they will get caught.

If today’s marijuana is truly different in kind from “dads marijuana”, would it be ok to legalize “dad’s marijuana”, i.e., low potency pot?

If all that is not enough, just how do the drug warriors answer this question. If today’s marijuana is truly different in kind from “dads marijuana”, would it be ok to legalize “dad’s marijuana”, i.e., low potency pot?

You can listen to helpless Barry MacKnight, chair of the Drug Abuse Committee for the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs duke it out over potent pot with the aforementioned Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Medical School.

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