Zero Hope for Cognitive Liberty?
In a society that is actually wasting tax dollars on this kind of foolishness. This is worse than pitiful. I can’t even think of a word or phrase that is sufficiently embarrassed and repulsed at the same time. What a waste.
Is it arguably more wasteful for kids (of any age, for that matter) to actually be doing bong hits for Jesus, Mohammad, Krishna, Ganesh or any other number of reasons? Maybe, maybe not. Biopsychiatry tells us:<blockquote>Yet marijuana is not a wonderdrug. Cognitive function in the user is often impaired. Marijuana interferes with memory-formation by disrupting long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. One of the functions of endogenous cannabinoids in the brain is to promote selective short-term amnesia. Forgetting is not, as one might have supposed, a purely passive process. Either way, choosing deliberately to ingest an amnestic agent for long periods is scarcely an ideal life-strategy. It’s especially flawed given the centrality of memory to human self-identity. It’s hard to see such a drug as a major tool for life-affirmation or the development of the human species.
And the Good Drugs Guide (GDG) adds:
Heavy users need as much as eight times higher doses to achieve the same psychoactive effects as regular users using smaller amounts. THC can be detected in a chronic user up to 12 weeks after use although the average is 25-27 days. Cannabis is highly detectable a long time after use because THC lingers in the fatty tissues of the body and leaks steadily into the blood and then the urine over weeks.
Smoking any drug is unhealthy. Cannabis is no exception. The smoke actually contains higher concentrations of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than tobacco smoke. Cannabis smokers generally inhale more smoke for longer depositing more than 4 times as much tar on their lungs as cigarette smokers.</blockquote>Obviously, if the stuff is leaking into your bloodstream, you’re a little bit impaired for quite some time after any given ‘harmless’ high. The thing about the GDG is that it follows each of these sobering facts with a dismissive statements like, “but it goes away if you stop” or “it’s not so bad if you don’t do so much; which may or may not be the case. This is my biggest beef with the GDG, because so many young people grant it all the authority of a Wikipedia or About.com source. So, it probably makes sense to also see what sites like WebMD and Wikipedia have to say on the topic of cannabis:<blockquote>Animal research has shown that the potential for cannabinoid psychological dependence does exist, and includes mild withdrawal symptoms. Although not as severe as that for alcohol, heroin, or cocaine dependence, marijuana withdrawal is usually characterized by insomnia, restlessness, loss of appetite, irritability, anger, increased muscle activity (jerkiness), and aggression after sudden cessation of chronic use as a result of physiological tolerance.</blockquote>Um, so you can give us a defensive look and hyper offended attitude, but just know that it is scientifically clear where the symptoms are coming from.<blockquote>Prolonged marijuana use produces both pharmacokinetic changes (how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted) and pharmacodynamic changes (how the drug interacts with target cells) to the body. These changes require the user to consume higher doses of the drug to achieve a common desirable effect, and reinforce the body’s metabolic systems for synthesizing and eliminating the drug more efficiently.</blockquote>So, like, if it were GOOD for you, the body would be incorporating it, like nutrients, not eliminating it, like a toxin, right?<blockquote>Preliminary research, published in the April 2006 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, indicates that cannabis addiction can be offset by a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives. Participants in the study (previously diagnosed with marijuana dependence) received either vouchers as incentives to stay drug free, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or both over a 14-week period. At the end of 3 months, 43 percent of those who received both treatments were no longer using marijuana, compared with 40 percent of the voucher group, and 30 percent of the therapy group. At the end of a 12-month follow-up, 37 percent of those who got both treatments remained abstinent, compared with 17 percent of the voucher group, and 23 percent of the therapy group.</blockquote>So even intense therapy only helps less than HALF the time. As I read it, if that much effort has such little impact, that’s a pretty significant piece of evidence for showing just how powerful a grip this understated drug actually exerts on people who become dependent.
Another study of college students has shown that:<blockquote>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.
Longitudinal research on marijuana use among young people below college age indicates those who used have lower achievement than the non-users, more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with delinquent and drug-using friends.</blockquote>There also additional effects on the brain’s sensory and mental health resources.
Bottom line? Go for it. Cannabis should be legal and people should be free to kick themselves in the head repeatedly, if that’s what they choose to do. However, when the rest of the world then treats them like people who repeatedly kick themselves in the head, substance users have no grounds for offense. I say, d’criminalize d’ganga and take away users “unjust victim” card.
People should be free to make their own choices, but others in society are equally free to render their individual assessments of those who make self-impairing choices.
For my own part, the benefits don’t outweigh the damage and I wish I’d chosen much sooner to stop inflicting additional needless damage on my own brain cells – living in a greenhouse gas, second hand smoke, degenerating DNA world is damage enough, thank you very much – but I absolutely defend anyone’s right to put that silly sign up, anywhere, at any time.