The Truth? Marijuana not as dangerous as portrayed.May 27th, 2009 | By Mike Courson | Category: Columns, Opinions
by Mike Courson
The truth will set you free. These words have been used by many ideologies to promote their version of the truth. I get the impression that, in most cases, there is but one truth, even if several different groups with opposing ideas try to sell me their version.
What I saw recently in an anti-drug advertisement seemed to be more propaganda than truth, sort of reminiscent of the old Reefer Madness ads. The commercial features a group of losers offering a responsible young man some marijuana. The Centers for Disease Control says over 30 percent of college students have used marijuana in the last year. One treatment website says nearly 40 percent of American adults have tried the drug. Can they all be losers?
Truth can be an uncomfortable thing. In this case, nearly a century-long, multi-billion dollar campaign to tell Americans the evil of marijuana use may not only be deceitful but, according to a 2008 ABC report, may have increased use in other, more harmful drugs.
Therein lies one of the biggest lies. Marijuana is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I drug, right alongside its brothers like LSD, heroin, and PCP. Interestingly enough, cocaine and Ritalin are both classified as less-severe Schedule II drugs. That’s right: while doctors and parents freely hand out Ritalin to our kids, the drug schedule suggests cocaine might not be so bad either. Please, though, watch out for that marijuana. It might make you kill your family with an ax.
Like so many other behaviors, we have somehow crossed morality with substance abuse. It has always been a weak link in my opinion. Though not a Bible reader, I can appreciate ideas like “Do unto others,” and the Golden-Rule. One can probably be under the influence of marijuana and keep true to these tenets. Under the influence of alcohol, any 21-year old can legally buy in a store? Seems many acts of violence have been committed that way.
This is why I have never understood America’s inability to teach kids the truth. Tell a kid something bad will happen if he uses a curse word, and he quickly learns not to trust you. He will say the word, and often times, because it’s a group of letters and sounds just like other words, nothing bad happens. Why not teach him about respect and politeness instead?
Substance use is a lifestyle choice, not a morality issue. If laws were always moral, the tobacco that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, and the alcohol that kills tens of thousands more, would be illegal (along with so many of the prejudicial laws this country has seen and continues to see today). Instead, we’ve picked marijuana as the scapegoat. Not only that, but we use overkill to drive the point home by falsely categorizing it alongside much more dangerous drugs.
But it’s a gateway drug, right? No more a gateway than anything else. Did you know that 100 percent of all hard drug users drink water also? Most drink milk. Many eat meat. Are these gateway substances? No, it is the natural progression. Some Americans do not drink, but some do. For many, the drink is not enough. Others want a mild alternative. Marijuana has long been the answer. For some, this is still not enough, but that decision would have been reached if marijuana had not been in the picture. The fault for hard drug use hardly lies with anything consumed prior to that.
Marijuana use is just unhealthy, right? Probably. Most things we put in our bodies these days are. But unhealthier than fast food, tobacco, or alcohol? Morgan Spurlock ate fast food for 30 straight days in the documentary Supersize Me. Comedian Doug Benson pulled a similar feat in Super High Me, a documentary where he did not use marijuana for 30 days, then smoked the drug continually for 30 days before completing tests he had performed while sober. The results: nothing socially or medically profound in the tests before using or while using. The same could not be said about Spurlock’s film.
The applications of these myths can be costly. Despite an underage DUI arrest, Michael Phelps became an American hero winning eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics. Kelloggs, maker of Wheaties and the Frosted Flakes that in no way have played a role in diabetes or obesity pandemics in American children, casually overlooked the DUI because money was to be made. After a photo of Phelps with a bong hit the world media, Kelloggs and many Americans alike came out against Phelps. Hardly an everyday example, but certainly an illustration on just how powerful the attitude against marijuana can be.
Don’t hit girls. Hold the door for others. Be nice. Just a few direct lifestyle choices that work. Maybe someday “don’t do drugs (except those legal or about to be legal)” can be added to that list so we can avoid all these lies and embarrassingly bad campaigns.