Recently, I blogged about Ganjapreneuring and one week after New York Times published an article, “higher times” in educationlife section, a quarterly section of the New York Times which offers news and commentary about higher education. I wanted to share the findings of this article and highlight what’s pertinent to what my last blog tried to say. the rest of the article can be read here- at the end of my blog.
Like me, Dr Donald Misch – associate vice chancellor for health ad wellness at u of Colorado – is concerned mainly about the way legalization will affect adolescents and younger students when marijuana or cannabis is promoted as harmless. Today, 60% of High school seniors don’t see any harm in smoking frequently compared to 42% in 2005. Data released in September shows that in of every 20 students ( I of 11 men) gets high daily or nearly daily, the highest rate since 1981. Mr Bentley, a substance abuser counsellor at Wardenburg Health Center, sees a growing number of students smoking pot since age 14 and who’ve become serious users, and experts say that the increase is surely a reflection of relaxed laws governing marijuana – which used to be called a substance but no more in some states, a movement gaining momentum. While smoking marijuana won’t turn you into an ax murderer and may be safer than alcohol for some, in some ways, its effects are NOT as benign as people want you to believe ( especially the cannabis sommeliers for example).
Today’s pot isn’t the same as yesterday’s: there’s a derivative and exponentially powerful form of marijuana, called Dabs, which can be torched on a hot plate to create creme brûlée concoction. According to Bentley, it’s not the just that vapors are inhaled or that dab is placed on forehead, but with his 20 years of experience in the addiction field he believes it’s the way things work in this culture. An idea spreads and others follow. It’s also a fire hazard on [or off ] campus. Pot does more than just lure students to follow or fit in. At Dartmouth, an academic advisor reports that not getting to class, changing majors, the B average becoming C average are small things that can change the course of where a student is heading. When students were asked to voice their ambivalence at a seminar in northwest campuses on their use and whether they’d change use, they discussed what’s good and bad about getting high. The good for them: they’re better able to mingle socially and it can decrease boredom and stress. Some said it helps them get in touch with their emotions. The not-so-good effects include spending too much money to get pot, and the bad is their lack of motivation and anxiety. Worse, whatever problem you have pot amplifies it, so that if you have anxiety regularly and use marijuana to that end, there’s no end to anxiety in your future. If marijuana fell off the face of the earth, the same anxious people will have to turn elsewhere for remedy. According to an addiction research and treatment study “acute and long-term effects of cannabis use: a Review” in Current Pharmaceutical Design journal 2014, 20 at [www.researchgate.net/…Cannabis_Use…/00b49524011e4a3bd9000000] : the chronic use of cannabis include mood disorders, exacerbation of psychotic disorders in vulnerable people and kids more so, withdrawal symptom syndrome, neurocognitive impairments, cardiovascular and respiratory and other diseases. Interestingly, students in other societies have greater amounts of anxiety than American students with regard to grades: tiger moms everywhere from china to India do not accept any grade less than A; A is for Asian they think, not B. They don’t have Incompletes [Inc] nor No Credit (NC) as options, and still manage to score and excel- without pot.
Marijuana’s effects are subtle so that students and adults alike may not be connecting the dots with feeling tired after a night’s sleep, and some don’t want to see the connection either because it is part of who they are, and/or they have become non discerning. They’re enabling others to use pot with this thinking reminiscent of the 60s pot culture in USA, considered the dawn of a golden age when Colorado became an oasis of independent thought. Inequality and injustice became fights for rights under the Kennedy gov’t etc, and people were getting high as a political statement, not as a way out of problems. 60s was felt across the world, and in France it was punctuated by demonstrations and strikes as well as occupation of universities and factories across France. the French pot culture peaked much earlier when Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Pierre Gautier, members of the Club des Hachischins, and a number of other writers and intellectuals gathered and experimented with hashish. France’s “pot” in the 60s took the form of student protests, molotov cocktails, artistic posters, debates, assemblies, slogans resounded and at the height of its fervor, and brought down almost the entire advanced capitalist economy of France to a dramatic halt. Andre Malraux, writer and politician and the French culture minister at the time suggested that it was due to the death of god, but in retrospect, adolescent hormones, the death of communism, the death of capitalism provide solid explanations. We could now see that the 60s in France was an examination of conscience of its fundamental values, and similarly, hip folks in USA met to trip as an act of rebellion against systems of rules like abortion. But today, pot no longer holds that symbolic power, and has become a part of everyday life. and today’s pot is more potent than the 60s pot. it is not is not your parents’ pot, but much more potent: the mean concentration of THC, the psychoactive ingredient, in confiscated cannabis more than doubled between 1993 and 2008 [nytimes “legalizing of marijuana raises health concerns Jan 7, 2013]. The dramatic increase in admission to emergency rooms and treatment programs for marijuana is one proof if its potency according to Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National institute on drug abuse.
Marijuana’s easy availability and legalization may open doors to problems we can’t foresee. Its negative effects are downplayed, like cigarette, which once eased stress by calming nerves, and showed status, helped with alertness and managed weight problems; juts like marijuana can do. But today, we are pointing out cigarette’s negative effects, not the positive effects! With legalization, it will be sufficient to tell the doc that you’re experiencing anxiety, nausea or back pain and produce a proof of residence, and earn two ounces of marijuana immediately [see nytimes article below].
A permissive environment where people, capitalists and others lie or twist truths to make money on distribution and supply under aged children is hardly a good policy. Legal does NOT mean it’s all legit or good or cool, and before we unleash the powers of the marketplace to woo people to use this addictive substance, or decriminalize marijuana and its derivatives, we need to better understand who is at risk.