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What To Do About The Doobie: Part One

Respect

New Member
Interesting ideas can cross your mind at the strangest times. Recently, my own ruminations were sparked in the men's room on the fifth floor of Davis Library, where I noticed that someone had scrawled "legalize it" on the tile wall.

Normally, the graffiti found in UNC's bathrooms is entertaining but not very thought provoking. But this wasn't your ordinary act of vandalism. Instead it inspired me to ponder if I could answer the question of whether marijuana should be legal from an objective point of view.

From the outset, let me say this: I don't smoke pot. Personally, I don't consider getting high part of a healthy lifestyle. But neither is smoking cigarettes or guzzling alcohol, and it would be ridiculous if the government outlawed those.

With that in mind, trying to determine if marijuana is "bad" for you seems a bit silly. A lot of things are bad for us and still legal. One of the most important facets of living in a free society is being allowed to make bad decisions along with the good ones. The government's job isn't to be our mother.

So the logical first question of my cannabis analysis is whether pot's worse for your health than other, currently legal, substances? That's no easy query, not least because the medical community doesn't have a consensus on it.

Let's start by considering the brain, because conventional wisdom says that potheads aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. That stereotype isn't entirely without merit - a preponderance of research shows heavy marijuana use can affect mental function.

But researchers have had a difficult time distinguishing cause from effect - does marijuana use lead to poor grades or do poor grades and bad social groups lead to marijuana use - and even the better understood cognitive impairments are temporary. One study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that formerly heavy users of marijuana did not have a lasting slump in their IQ score.

Other research is more pessimistic, indicating that in some people the cognitive effects of smoking marijuana might last for up to a few weeks but still aren't likely to be permanent. Yet cannabis isn't alone in affecting the mind. Alcohol, as a neurotoxic substance, can cause long-term brain damage in those who abuse it.

Beyond the brain, smoking marijuana can have other negative health effects, such as on the respiratory system. Some marijuana advocates argue that smoking pot is easier on lungs than cigarettes. A nice try, but simply untrue.

"All the available evidence suggests that the risks of regular cannabis smoking are similar to those of regular tobacco smoking," according to a study from the Internal Medicine Journal. And those findings are backed up by plenty of other research.

Using marijuana does have other health effects. But try as I might, I couldn't find any consequences that could be considered worse than those from using tobacco or alcohol. In fact, at least one study ranked marijuana as less harmful to your health than either of those two substances.

Don't get the wrong idea, though - marijuana isn't good for you. It's just not worse for your health than other, legal substances.

And just because marijuana is no more harmful than cigarettes or alcohol doesn't mean that it should be legalized in the United States either. Before we have a final answer, we need to consider the ramifications of legalizing marijuana from a societal perspective, which I'll discuss in next Thursday's column.

I know, the suspense is killing you. But in the meantime, take some advice from Dave Chappelle in the classic stoner flick "Half Baked," and, "chill out, man."

Source: The Daily Tar Heel
Copyright: 2007 The Daily Tar Heel
Contact: zureick@email.unc.edu
Website: What to do about the doobie: part one - Opinion
 

merickson

New Member
That doesn't address the questions:

1) Even if something is bad for people's health, why should the government be active in discouraging its use. (Fact spreading a.k.a. truth telling is differnent than extra taxes/jail discouragement.)

2) Even if the government should be in the discouragement buisness, is criminalization a effective technique? Are the societal costs of criminilaization greater than the societal benifits?
 

Respect

New Member
agreed, its not a strong article. I'm enjoying the emergence of college newspaper's sporting medicinal marijuana articles. It shows how awareness is spreading.

My biggest issue with it is that studies have also shown that smoking marijuana can fight cancerous cells and those who smoke marijuana and not cigarettes are far less likely to get lung cancer.
 

FreakNature

New Member
And even for a heavy cannabis smoker; it's not like most are smoking 40 doobies a day.
 

merickson

New Member
I don't think that most folks smoke herb for the health benifits.
 

FreakNature

New Member
Oh sure, man. At the very least it's about mental health.
 

Respect

New Member
I'd disagree, almost every damn kid these days "needs" and is prescribed an anti-depressant. Weed is my anti-depressant, my prescription and would work universally, whether your physically sick or not.
 
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