Greg P

The Legalization of Marijuana-- The Christian Perspective

77 posts in this topic

CNN op-ed from a clinical psychiatrist and professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

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I personally find the federal prohibition of marijuana as absurd and unreasonable as laws regarding sodomy or elephants tied to parking meters.

Sorry to be so late in responding ... I got stoned and was busy sodomizing an elephant I found tied to a parking meter.

I understand the "you can't OD" argument as a statement about chemical toxicity: the compounds in marijuana smoke won't kill you outright, the way opiates or even alcohol can. But ... and please forgive my ignorance, because I've never been stoned and don't wish to acquire any new vices at my age ... does getting high impair your judgment, lower your inhibitions and slow down your reaction time, the way alcohol does? I've seen the "you can't OD" argument transmogrified into a "pot never kills" argument, and I have to wonder whether that's true. If you drive while stoned, aren't you at increased risk for an accident, as you would be if you drove while drunk?

P.S. Any municipality that installs parking meters can take reasonable measures to protect its property. I'd have to think your average elephant could make short work of any parking meter you chained him to, if he decided there was somewhere else he'd rather be.

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As a former recreational pot smoker, I've always supported legalization. But after watching a family member suffer a psychotic breakdown in recent weeks, I'm having a change of heart. I realize that the correlation between sustained marijuana use and the onset of mental health disorders is something of a chicken/egg situation, and I know that my family member's struggle is unique (as all such struggles are), but it's been heartbreaking to watch and has totally changed my attitude about a drug that, frankly, I genuinely enjoyed as "harmless" fun twenty years ago.

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I understand the "you can't OD" argument as a statement about chemical toxicity: the compounds in marijuana smoke won't kill you outright, the way opiates or even alcohol can. But ... and please forgive my ignorance, because I've never been stoned and don't wish to acquire any new vices at my age ... does getting high impair your judgment, lower your inhibitions and slow down your reaction time, the way alcohol does? I've seen the "you can't OD" argument transmogrified into a "pot never kills" argument, and I have to wonder whether that's true. If you drive while stoned, aren't you at increased risk for an accident, as you would be if you drove while drunk?

The short answer is no. The reaction is definitely different, with moderate use.You don;t get the sloppiness of speech or even the general clumsiness typically associated with moderate drinking. The effects are more psychological (again, this is in moderation), with a marked increase in introspective/contemplative thought and creative ideas, as well as analytical thinking and yes, a sensitivity to humor. The physical effects lean toward more of a more deep relaxation and "body calm", with no discernible decrease in balance or coordination, like most experience with alcohol.

If I ever did participate in such an activity, hypothetically, I would treat said moderate consumption the same way I would treat moderate alcohol use and refrain from driving.

Edit: I think it's only fair to caution that careless overindulgence (which is MUCH easier to do when ingesting canabis when cooked with food ala cake or brownies) is very likely to result in a "freak-out" that at best can be unpleasant and at worst can make you feel a suffocating sense of dread/panic. The latter can be quite frightening. The answer to this is (as i've said from the outset) self-control. For the sake of fairness, I think this freakout from BBC host Nicky Taylor is pretty common for the uninitiated,careless user and is a good commercial for moderation. But keep in mind-- she takes 25 hits over a ten-minute time period. Ridiculous, even for someone who's used to smoking. I've never seen anything like this occur with someone who exercised moderation.

Edited by Greg P

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I personally find the federal prohibition of marijuana as absurd and unreasonable as laws regarding sodomy or elephants tied to parking meters.

Sorry to be so late in responding ... I got stoned and was busy sodomizing an elephant I found tied to a parking meter.

I have submitted a petition to the White House to have this made illegal.

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Sorry to be so late in responding ... I got stoned and was busy sodomizing an elephant I found tied to a parking meter.

Greatest thing ever posted on A&F?

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Based on a very positive report in a recent NYT Book Review section, I picked up David Sheff's Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. I greatly appreciate when smart, diligent journalists do good, in-depth psychology and mental health overviews (Andrew Solomon being a particular standout for his two most recent books). So far, Sheff's book - based on several years' worth of interviews and research - looks quite promising. Here are the headings for his discussion of marijuana:

- Marijuana can impede maturation

- Marijuana can cause or worsen depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.

- Marijuana isn't a gateway drug - and it is

- Marijuana can be addictive

- Marijuana can kill

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Hmmm... that list can pretty much apply to lots of legal substances, especially alcohol, as well.

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When I saw this topic bumped yesterday, I assumed, incorrectly, that someone had linked to recent news reports about a new study.

Pot-Smoking Teens May Become Slower-Thinking Adults

Teens may lose IQ points later in life if they smoke marijuana before age 18, according to a study that follows a survey showing use of the drug has increased in this age group for four straight years.

The research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found an average decline of eight points on IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests done at age 13 and 38 among those who began using marijuana as teenagers. That compared with no decrease in those who used pot later in life, and a slight increase in those who never used it.

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Based on a very positive report in a recent NYT Book Review section, I picked up David Sheff's Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. I greatly appreciate when smart, diligent journalists do good, in-depth psychology and mental health overviews (Andrew Solomon being a particular standout for his two most recent books). So far, Sheff's book - based on several years' worth of interviews and research - looks quite promising. Here are the headings for his discussion of marijuana:

- Marijuana can impede maturation

- Marijuana can cause or worsen depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.

- Marijuana isn't a gateway drug - and it is

- Marijuana can be addictive

- Marijuana can kill

I read "Beautiful Boy" a few years ago after finishing his son's book "Tweak". As a parent, I found both heartbreaking on so many levels. I think it's important to note however, that Scheff writes from the vantage point of a former drug abuser who smoked pot with and around his teenage son in an environment of total permissiveness, which in a small way (depending on your view of addiction) attributed to his son's tragic descent into crippling meth addiction. That's no small thing to consider when reading his views on pot.

Impede maturation? In adolescents? No question about that. Although as Thom said, I think there are a multitude of substances, practices and habits that could fit that bill. As an aside, Mark Driscoll also subscribes to the notion that pot smoking makes you immature, even with adult users apparently. (Ditto masturbation, but that's another thread wink.png ) I think anything consumed in excess is going to impact someone negatively

Worsen a preexistant psychiatric condition like depression or bipolar disorder? No doubt about that. Particularly in teens.

I take serious issue with the general claim that marijuana is addictive and/or deadly, but I'm interested to hear his arguments. As far as I know, there is not a single case of marijuana "overdose". One could certainly have a fatal accident or catastrophic lack of judgement while under the influence, but again this could be just as true of Benadryl, Nyquil or AM talk radio.

Edited by Greg P

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I take serious issue with the general claim that marijuana is addictive and/or deadly, but I'm interested to hear his arguments. As far as I know, there is not a single case of marijuana "overdose". One could certainly have a fatal accident or catastrophic lack of judgement while under the influence, but again this could be just as true of Benadryl, Nyquil or AM talk radio.

I'll definitely get back with you, once I've finished the relevant sections of the book.

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According to one survey, the Evangelical tide is slowly turning on recreational use being classified as a "sin". Is it OK to now open a thread at A&F on bud recommendations? ;)

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No, it's not some hippy-trippy satire -- the Evangelical Stanley brothers have a Marijuana Ministry in Colorado (picked up by Slate a few weeks ago and also featured on Sanjay Gupta's documentary last year) They farm a CBD-heavy strain that is used with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, particularly in children  . It's encouraging to see shifts in public opinion, even among the typically "30-years-behind-the-curve-of-reason" evangelicals. 

Edited by Greg P

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But then.  There's also scientists saying things like this.

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But then.  There's also scientists saying things like this.

 

 

Footnote to the study you linked:

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center

 

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And more importantly, a straightforward Slate rebuttal of the media's coverage of that study. 

 

A press release from the Society for Neuroscience trumpeted the Gilman study’s importance because it looked at casual users rather than regular pot smokers, who form the basis of most marijuana studies. That claim is dubious in the extreme. The subjects averaged 3.83 days of smoking and 11.2 total joints per week. Characterizing these people as casual pot smokers was a great media hook, but it defied common sense. Occasional users wondered if they’d done permanent damage, and parents were concerned that their teenagers might face profound neurological changes from experimenting with pot. Any reporter who read the study, however, should have known not to take that bait.

 

Edited by Greg P

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But then.  There's also scientists saying things like this.

 

Here's another critique of Breiter's study at io9. Pretty damning.

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Fair enough.

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Daily News: Long-term pot smoking has no significant effect on lung functions: new study 

 

Researchers studied a cross-section of adults aged 18 to 49 and determined that daily marijuana use over 20 years did not significantly harm a person's ability to exhale at a normal rate, which is a key determining factor in identifying lung disease.

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Daily News: Long-term pot smoking has no significant effect on lung functions: new study 

 

Researchers studied a cross-section of adults aged 18 to 49 and determined that daily marijuana use over 20 years did not significantly harm a person's ability to exhale at a normal rate, which is a key determining factor in identifying lung disease.

 

 

Anecdotally speaking, a very close friend of mine in his mid-40's who runs five to six days a week and is very in-tune with changes in his body (particularly those that impact pace), has spoken at considerable length about the difference running the morning after having had a couple alcoholic beverages vs. running after cannabis consumption. In fact, the changes to physical readiness after alcohol became so pronounced in his 40's, that he has virtually eliminated drinking from his life, even on weekends. In contrast, evening cannabis use has absolutely no discernible effect on his physical readiness the following day-- i.e. no sluggishness, bodily weakness, reduced lung capacity, etc.. 

Edited by Greg P

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According to one survey, the Evangelical tide is slowly turning on recreational use being classified as a "sin". Is it OK to now open a thread at A&F on bud recommendations? wink.png

Well, it has nothing directly to do with either arts or faith, and is still illegal in most jurisdictions. 

 

Show us a marijuana discussion board with a thriving section on arts and faith, and perhaps we'll think about it ... 

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Oh, but you know what potheads artists can be.

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Indeed, but I think we're primarily concerned here with what artists produce, not with what they consume. 

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Well, it has nothing directly to do with either arts or faith, and is still illegal in most jurisdictions. 

 

 

 I couldn't disagree more. There's a very good reason why cannabis has been used in religious and contemplative practices throughout history. We have threads on spirits, scotch and beer at A&F. Having peeked in on all those discussions a few times, I can confidently say that there's an utter lack of snark, fear mongering over dissipation and/or condescending stereotyping about drunks in those threads. Just people who enjoy the beverages, presumably with self control and restraint, to the glory of God. I see no reason why the same could not be done with cannabis. In fact, even more so, as cannabis is less addictive and harmful to the body than either alcohol or tobacco... and also legal, in varying degrees, throughout the continental US.

Edited by Greg P

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