How To End Pot Zealotry
Like most blossoming religions of peace, the roots of Green Messiah worship are deeply embedded in a dogmatic and unwavering faith in a higher power. To most pot-heads, speaking ill of their godly green deity is considered blasphemy. Some weed zealots will even resort to hostility when confronted with scientific facts that discredit the myths about their immaculate, green Jesus. In more ways than one, pot-heads are just like the zealots of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Atheism.
Media and internet warriors are the first to bombard us with links to scientific journals and studies about climate science, vaccination and the intellectual ineptitude of conservatives. But when they're bombarded with links to scientific journals and studies about the negative affects of marijuana, they sneer and brush it off as propaganda. Presenting facts about unfiltered marijuana smoke to a pot zealot could get you unfriended, ridiculed, or even harassed.
Nothing rubs a pot-head the wrong way like scientific studies linking marijuana to dementia, cancer, and reduced cognitive ability. Climate change deniers don't even have the same privilege as pot zealots when it comes to rejecting science. Unlike modern climate science, scientific studies linking cancer and dementia to marijuana have provided recorded observations of the drug's affects on hundreds of individuals over time. Because these results don't back up the myths about marijuana being harmless and safe, they're usually rejected by pot zealots as propaganda.
Unlike climate change deniers, pot-science deniers aren't forced to endure the same kind of mockery and slander in media. Pot activists are given a free pass when it comes to denying scientific studies done on thousands of pot smokers. When celebrity politicians like Justin Trudeau advocate for legalization, their endorsements are seldom followed by criticisms or references to science. When Stephen Harper endorses Alberta's oil sands, his endorsements are almost always followed by media criticisms and references to climate science.
Despite theories that marijuana may actually stave off Alzeimer's disease, the University Of British Columbia concluded that marijuana is ineffective at reducing the likelihood of Alzeimer's. Other studies have found that some chemicals in cannabis might prevent and reduce dementia, but those same studies have cautioned that marijuana contains dozens of other chemicals that may counteract the benefits. Helen Philips, writing for the New Scientist, had the following to say:
“Results of clinical trials of cannabis have been mixed and it now seems there are fundamental problems with how our bodies respond to the stuff. Even with purified cannabis extracts, changing the amount, time or place of a dose could produce completely opposite effects on the body.” – Helen Philips, New Scientist.
There's no doubt that at least some of the one hundred chemicals found in marijuana would have valuable medicinal properties on their own. Like with most plants, it would be a few of marijuana's isolated extracts that would be used to treat ailments like dementia and pain, not all of them. There's also no doubt that most of the less useful chemicals in marijuana can cause more harm than good.
Science has shown that many of the same chemicals that are present in tobacco are also present in marijuana. Several studies done since 2006 have suggested that the risk of lung cancer in pot smokers is the same or higher than the risk in tobacco smokers. Furthermore, science has proven that smoking marijuana causes inflammation in the lungs, just like the inhalation of any other kind of smoke. Recent studies have shown that chronic inflammation can mitigate the growth of cancer. The biggest problem with marijuana is that it's usually smoked without a filter – unlike tobacco – which can significantly increase inflammation.
THC intake has also been proven to cause paranoia in a half of individuals who smoke it. The increase in negative thoughts caused by marijuana in some individuals can also be linked to more serious underlying mental health problems, like depression and low self esteem. This makes the unmitigated consumption of marijuana more risky for people suffering from serious mental illnesses.
“The results were clear. THC caused paranoid thoughts. Half of those given THC experienced paranoia, compared with 30% of the placebo group.” – Daniel and Jason Freeman, The Guardian
So why doesn't Canada's media ever follow up with these scientific facts after covering Justin Trudeau? They always seem eager to talk about dirty oil and climate change after covering Stephen Harper, while conveniently leaving out the fact that Canada's greenhouse emissions have been shrinking since 2005.
The lopsided worldview of pot zealots and media is easy to ignore if you're one of the many Canadians who think marijuana should be decriminalized. It's true that it should be decriminalized, if not completely legalized. However, it's not necessary to completely side with zany pot zealots just for the sake of sticking it to bureaucrats. Whether the suits and ties in Ottawa like it or not, the tides have turned against marijuana prohibition and the Green Messiah will be set free soon enough. In fact, if politicians truly wanted to zap the mystique and intrigue out of marijuana, they'd support complete legalization.
A better strategy than criminalization would involve using science and education. Cigarettes have always been legal, but scientific facts and successful ad campaigns (along with regulations and taxes) have reduced Canada's population of smokers from 60% of the population to under 30%. If bureaucrats really wanted to discourage marijuana usage, they'd tax it into oblivion and put the revenue towards our ailing healthcare system.
Once marijuana is legalized, we can probably expect the strange zealotry that exists around it to dissipate. Membership in the church of the Green Messiah will start costing more for millions of green disciples as years go on, causing a natural decline in its popularity. It won't ever disappear, but it'll become more mundane and unappealing as the price of an average gram rises from $15 to $35 and higher. Once it's legalized, the government will have endless ways to make it more expensive. The very same liberals that have been pushing for its legalization will be the ones who end up regulating and taxing marijuana out of popularity.
Making marijuana legal and more expensive would make it more difficult for teenagers without jobs to acquire. It would also allow governments to slap parents and vendors with hefty fines for selling marijuana to underage children. We could also expect to see more revenue via new, enforceable traffic laws that forbid driving under the influence of marijuana. Some municipalities could take it a step further by banning smoking in public places and charging offenders huge fines.
Government has a special talent for ruining things. Just look at Calgary, where tobagganning is only legal on a few “designated” hills, or Saskatchewan, where having alcohol around naked women is still illegal. Once marijuana is legalized, the government will have complete jurisdiction over it. Currently, like all black markets, the marijuana market is unregulated and prices are dictated by demand. Soon that will all change and social conservatives should rejoice.
If conservatives don't move to legalize marijuana, someone else will and it will always be a political issue. Liberals will always have an advantage until conservatives take it away from them. More than taking away liberal advantages, legalizing marijuana has long term social benefits. Social conservatives will disagree, but slowly making marijuana more expensive and less appealing would work better than filling prisons and giving experimental teens and adults criminal records. Marijuana has been illegal for almost a century and punishments haven't reduced its popularity. It's time for conservatives to embrace reality.