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August 07, 2010

REEFER MADNESS - 2010 - Dangers of Marijuana - PART FOUR

last edited 08-29-2010

Life just doesn't seem easy... in fact, I was raised to know it isn't. It's why my own mother tried so hard (in vain) to influence (and save) me, by her aggressive efforts to influence me to take her road in life, and in doing so, strongly discouraged my own road in life. "Her Road" was in fact, as she knows it, the ONLY road in life - what she calls "the short road".

One might say, if I'd surrendered to her efforts, I'd be better off today. But I chose to rebel. Not uncommon - in fact, it's a part of growing up to be an adult - to rebel against one's parents. It was my misfortune that my mother is simply quite overbearing, without understanding of personal bounds or personal freedom. The consequence, as a result of a final battle between her and I when I was 24, I have PTSD. It's a long story.... one for another time perhaps.

My question is:  how can another person, no matter how closely related, dictate how another person lives their life? I see a lot of that type of influencing going on - which I call bullying. You may recall the story I told about the girlfriend I had during the 70's - her mother would call around 2AM, wake her up, to call her a slut and insist she had a man in her bed - which she did, that being me. So I know it's not just me, with the issues.

I took the "Road Less Traveled", based on the book by Jack Kerouac, but not solely based on the book... the whole culture was dominate during the 70's among 20-somethings... much came together in my early 20's, a renaissance of discoveries, a rebirth, a chance in life. I thrived in the 70's... and everything looked like it would happen... except, I underestimated the tenacity my mother would exert to keep me on her "short road" - job, wife, children and house. None of which I was opposed to - I simply wanted to do it my way.

I can only attribute my failures to inexperience. How was I suppose to know that I had a Constitutional Right to pursue my own road in life? It's not like they exactly covered that topic in HS. In hindsight... I should have cut off communication with what i considered a hostile antagonist in my 20's, but I didn't. I had the right to do so, I just didn't fully understand my rights. There's also the fact that I attribute much of my "awakening" to my use of cannabis. I've written about that previously, plenty of times.

But what if... the marijuana I attribute to being a great miracle in my life, instead produced a mental condition... like schizophrenia? Would that explain why my parents thought I had deviated from the "main road" in life... why I got a job as a custodial at a local community college? A disgrace of the worst kind to my mother. Was I insane???

SCHIZOPHRENIA, and Cannabis: 

In many online discussions regarding legalizing cannabis, the topic of how it "causes or enables schizophrenia" is a common concern. My opinion is that there is a lack of understanding with regards to the illness, and the potential role of cannabis.

First, the following link provides an understanding of schizophrenia: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH:

"What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects about 1.1 percent of the
U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them. These experiences can make them fearful and withdrawn and cause difficulties when they try to have relationships with others."

I’ve already discussed in an earlier post, the "paranoia" a user of cannabis may experience. And that it's my opinion that the fear is real, and not a delusion. The question is, of the 1.1% of the US population, how many cases can be a direct result of the use of cannabis? Truth is, no one knows. What we do know however is that people have been using cannabis for thousands of years… and there is no factual data showing a link between it’s use and madness.

The commonly discussed attribute of cannabis used to discuss mental illness, is the THC (Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol). That's the "active psychotropic" chemical in cannabis that produces the high. It is the chemical that makes cannabis a Schedule One Narcotic, and users of cannabis subject to arrest. It is the chemical that is the source of concern that cannabis may cause, or bring out the condition known as schizophrenia. 

Although this is a major concern, this is not why cannabis is illegal in this country. It's illegal based on a series of events beginning in the early 1930's that escalated out of control. But to reign in on the misconceptions about cannabis, one needs to look closely at the mental health concerns in present day terms.

Considering all the millions of persons who have either used or are using cannabis, the percentage of disorders currently documented fail to correspond to use of cannabis. It is known that pure THC is very depressing to use. It's not enjoyable. The only reason THC works to provide a source of worth to the user is a non-psychotropic component called cannabidiol. This component of cannabis appears to be the key... to why cannabis is not only safe, but beneficial. The following into to a link from Wikipedia: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid found in Cannabis. It is a major constituent of the plant, representing up to 40% in its extracts.[2] CBD alone is not intoxicating but displayed sedative effects in animal tests.[3] Some research, however, indicates that CBD can increase alertness.[4] It may decrease the rate of THC clearance from the body, perhaps by interfering with the metabolism of THC in the liver. Medically, it has been shown to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, and to inhibit cancer cell growth.[5] Recent studies have shown cannabidiol to be as effective as atypical antipsychotics in treating schizophrenia.[6]

It's the balance of the primary components - THC and Cannabidiol that makes cannabis the perfect commodity, and recreational drug, as we like to describe such things. Essentially, it is a plant with desirable characteristics. At present, outlawed and causing extreme violence in Mexico, and political suffocation in American politics. The victims - "We The People..."

The plant, cannabis, is a miracle in my opinion... very safe to use, beneficial in many ways, an art to grow, and a major commodity that is needed for our society to prosper. Providing alcohol and tobacco as the only recreational drugs is stupidity. Not only are they both difficult to control, but tobacco alone is simply a highly addictive poison. Society needs a safer alternative - one that is not simply intoxicating or feeds an addiction. Cannabis has shown anti-cancer potential, helps with pain in a much safer way that opiates, and users of recreational cannabis tend to be far less prone to violent behavior than their sober or alcohol infused counterparts.

The argument that legalizing cannabis will result in an increase in schizophrenia, is simply unproven, and unlikely in my opinion. This is not to say there aren't people who may experience psychological problems when using cannabis. I'm simply saying if cannabis use caused schizophrenia, the percentage of individuals suffering from the various forms of the illness would be substantially higher.

As they say on the popular Myth Buster's TV show, the "myth is busted", in my opinion. The danger still remains, however, in that the potency of THC, and the balancing effects of cannabidiol, the cannabis that's distributed illegally is more dangerous to society than if it were legal. From years of experience I can tell you stoners, those who use cannabis, are by far more comfortable to be around than a keg party. Hey, not knocking you if you prefer the keg party, just saying...

The solution is to legalize and provide controlled sources of the plant, much like we do with alcohol products. Permitting individuals to grow their own with clearly specified strains of the plant. Legalization would also help reduce the stigma associated with use, and make it far less likely that those with psychological issues would avoid seeking professional help. Cannabis users aren't made "stupid", and to assume an individual can't make a decision when selecting the variety of plant they prefer, is unrealistic.

The current problem with cannabis is that it's illegal, fueling violence in the area of growth and distribution, and creating a sub-culture that has no choice but to take what they can find, and shut-up about it. The majority of cannabis users I've known over the years would never tell their doctor they use cannabis. And this same sub-culture has no idea usually where their cannabis came from, or what the THC level is. It's a commodity, one that would benefit our society, give us a break from the hard stuff, a choice.

To Be Continued...

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