Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug."
March 2, 2007 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Marijuana, the wonder drug. A new study in the journal Neurology is being hailed as unassailable proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine. It is a sad commentary on the state of modern medicine that we still need "proof" of something that medicine has known for 5,000 years.
posted by ZenMasterThis (80 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Haven't St John's Wort and garlic been "known" to be valuable medicine for 5000 years too? Or is it only a sad commentary when it turns out to be true and about a drug you happen to like?
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on March 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder what the U.S. government's position on marijuana is going to be in 20, 30, 40 years...the tide seems to be changing.
posted by agregoli at 7:55 AM on March 2, 2007


They'll probably just breed a version of marijuana that is pharmaceutically useful, but which doesn't get you high.

Problem solved.
posted by bshort at 8:00 AM on March 2, 2007


Yeah, because the government will actually let its citizens do anything fun.
posted by muddgirl at 8:04 AM on March 2, 2007


As all marijuana research in the United States must be, the new study was conducted with government-supplied marijuana of notoriously poor quality. So it probably underestimated the potential benefit.

I thought government grown marijuana was supposed to be pretty strong.

...as a method of delivering certain medicinal compounds, smoking marijuana has some real advantages: The effect is almost instantaneous, allowing the patient to fine-tune his or her dose to get the needed relief without intoxication.

Can you smoke just enough pot to relieve pain but not get stoned? This doesn't make sense to me.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:09 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


150 years ago, "medicine" didn't realize you had to wash your hands with soap before you operated on someone. Also, medicine believe that health was related to "humors", but not humor as in "laughter is the best medicine".

Here's a thought - if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that? Or are most of these studies, while accurate, being used mostly for the purpose of legalizing something that people want to take just so they can get high?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:10 AM on March 2, 2007


this study emboldens the enemy in the war on drugs.
posted by localhuman at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait until Glaxo-Pfizer-Kline patents MJTM ("Soar!")...
posted by gottabefunky at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2007


We live in an antismoking environment. But as a method of delivering certain medicinal compounds, smoking marijuana has some real advantages...

The second sentence isn't clear, but the first one seems to imply that it's the smoking, not the marijuana that delivers compounds. Since it goes right to the lungs (and thus to the bloodstream) that makes sense. What is marijuana, to coin a phrase, bringing to the party?
posted by DU at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2007


being hailed as unassailable proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine

Like I haven't heard that a million times before. Usually postfixed by the word Man or Dude.

Also, the should ban St John's Wort. There's a dangerous medicine if ever there was one.
... may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.
posted by seanyboy at 8:17 AM on March 2, 2007


Marijuana prohibition has never made sense. I wish I could believe this will change things, but I haven't been smoking anything this morning.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:21 AM on March 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that?

Absolutely. Although truly achieving that effect is largely impossible- the studies that have been done on synthetic 3-THC showed that the synthetic drug (cannabinol?) had a much less positive effect than the natural stuff- the reason being that the cannabinoids discussed in the article have as much to do with the effectiveness of marijuana as the THC itself. So yeah, we'd support it if it were possible, but right now it looks like it isn't.


I thought government grown marijuana was supposed to be pretty strong.


The problems, he said, are not limited to winning approval to buy the Mississippi marijuana. Doblin and other researchers contend that the government marijuana is low in quality and potency and could never be a stable source of basic ingredients if the Food and Drug Administration ever did approve a marijuana-based medication.
posted by baphomet at 8:23 AM on March 2, 2007


I thought government grown marijuana was supposed to be pretty strong.

Half Baked was not a documentary.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:23 AM on March 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


Come on, this study won't make a whit of difference.

None of the people who sponsor and support draconian American drug laws care at all whether marijuana could reduce people's suffering.

Besides, if you legalize marijuana, or temper the laws to the degree other more humane nations have, you lose your primary excuse for locking up black people.

That's not going to happen, for decades at least.
posted by lastobelus at 8:24 AM on March 2, 2007


That's not going to happen, for decades at least

Funny thing is that it has only been illegal for decades. People seem to think that the war on drugs has been going on forever. Such short term memories we have.
posted by twistedonion at 8:28 AM on March 2, 2007


Actually, no the government has a single marijuana producing facility and it is notoriously horrible. Recently MAPS filed suit to end the governmental monopoly on the production of research marijuana.

"Can you smoke just enough pot to relieve pain but not get stoned? This doesn't make sense to me."
Some people say they can. The larger idea here, I believe, is the underlying philosophy that more medication (of any sort) than necessary is a bad thing.

"Or is it only a sad commentary when it turns out to be true and about a drug you happen to like?"
Maybe it's when one of the most demonized drugs (that helps thousands of patients each day) is finally being studied legitimately.

By the way, good job assuming that ZenMasterThis is a pothead. Because, you know, people only support any form of drug decriminalization or research if they are a user of the drug. Right?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:30 AM on March 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


*hits bubbler, passes it to Matt Oneiros*
posted by baphomet at 8:32 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel : "Here's a thought - if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that? Or are most of these studies, while accurate, being used mostly for the purpose of legalizing something that people want to take just so they can get high?"

On the other hand, what exactly is the problem with people getting high? I can understand that some people do not want to get high, the same way some people do not want to drink alcoholic beverages. But I can not understand the need to deny those who want it their pleasure. Is it just a control issue or a real aversion to other people having fun in a way you disapprove?
posted by nkyad at 8:41 AM on March 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


Maybe I just read all the wrong (right?) sources, but it really does seem like the "OMG DRUGS R BAD" faction has been a bit quieter of late. It reminds me of the subtle change in tone politics took just before the midterms, but a lot slower. Wouldn't it be great to have a drug policy based on, you know, facts?
posted by Skorgu at 8:44 AM on March 2, 2007


"Wouldn't it be great to have a drug any governmental policy based on, you know, facts?"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd say there's definitely a shift in progress. At first I thought it was a joke when I heard about Dennis Kucinich becoming the chair of the House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on domestic policy.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2007


On the other hand, what exactly is the problem with people getting high?

Also, a good deal of prescription drugs still get you "high" (if you define 'high' as any state of altered consciousness): vicodin, oxycontin, ritalin, etc. So I don't see that there's necessarily a correlation between a medicine not having any mind altering abilities and its potential for legality.
posted by spicynuts at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


If drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that?

Are you asking whether we'd give up the fight for legalizing marijuana? I wouldn't. First, "easier to take" is a subjective thing, especially when you factor in cost. If one could grow the stuff oneself, why would one want to shell out big bucks to get the same thing in a pill? And is smoking really that difficult? I don't think I've ever heard a smoker (of anything) complain that they're only smoking because they can't get what they want/need a pill.

Second, marijuana is effective as it is. It doesn't need to be synthesized and concentrated in order for it to have beneficial effects. Keeping the plant illegal while legalizing some synthesized form of it would just be a way of ensuring that drug companies make a fortune.
posted by treepour at 8:53 AM on March 2, 2007 [7 favorites]


On the other hand, what exactly is the problem with people getting high?

Nothing at all. The debate should focus on that, not on the pain reducing effects of marijuana. Cocaine reduces pain too. The reason it is illegal is not because people thought it had no beneficial effects. The reason it is illegal is because the altered state of being high is perceived to be negative or detrimental to society. The debate needs to focus on the "getting high is ok" part in order to ascertain precisely why people still want these things to be illegal.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:56 AM on March 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


It makes more sense for alcohol to be illegal than pot to be. Pot's less addictive than alcohol, if at all, and doesn't lead to antisocial behavior except maybe laziness and contentment. When's the last time you heard of a man getting stoned and beating up his wife? Most of the damage from pot stems from it it being illegal.

Why is alcohol prohibition considered ridiculous but pot prohibition tolerated?

I'll grant that we probably need similar restrictions on driving while impaired, but this is just stupid:
Under the "zero-tolerance" model legislation the drug czar and others are proposing, the person who smoked a joint on Friday night could be busted for DWI a week later and regular pot smokers, in whom cannanaboid metabolites are presumably always present, could be subject to a DWI arrest any time they got behind the wheel."
posted by LordSludge at 8:58 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


gottabefunky wrote:
Wait until Glaxo-Pfizer-Kline patents MJTM ("Soar!")...

Hmmm...Positiva, anyone? No? OK, more for me...
posted by mosk at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2007


If some company were able to synthesize a liquid that tasted exactly like your favorite alcoholic beverage but didn't get you the least bit buzzed, we'd all be ok with reinstating alcohol prohibition, right?
posted by treepour at 9:11 AM on March 2, 2007 [6 favorites]



Second, marijuana is effective as it is. It doesn't need to be synthesized and concentrated in order for it to have beneficial effects. Keeping the plant illegal while legalizing some synthesized form of it would just be a way of ensuring that drug companies make a fortune.

Amen.
posted by queenofthegeeks at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2007


Here's a thought - if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that?

Personally, I wouldn't support that because it would be protectionist. If home cultivation was legal the Pharmaceutical industry would shit themselves. Here is a drug that can be taken to relieve muscular pain, IBS, tension, insomnia, headaches, nausea... and it doesn't cost a dime to brew a nice cuppa. There's the real reason it's still kept illegal. A free drug that can be used either recreationally or medicinally. I think that's what big business (drink manufacturers and drug companies) fears most.
posted by twistedonion at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2007


spicynuts : So I don't see that there's necessarily a correlation between a medicine not having any mind altering abilities and its potential for legality.

Not to get all tinfoil-hatty, but I think treepour has it partially right. It's not about the drugs ability to get you high, it's about the fact that the effects of marijuana are such, that if it were legalized, it would bite into the markets of pharmaceutical companies products that have attempt to solve the same problems at a higher price.

I mean, why buy three different drugs for nausea, appetite, and pain relief when you can smoke one joint?

The other side of it is the ability of lawmakers to use it as a weapon against the disenfranchised. It's not that only minorities and poor who smoke pot, but they are the ones who are disproportionally sentenced for the act. One could argue that this is because more affluent criminals can afford better lawyers to get their sentences reduced. Or one could also argue that the criminal aspect of the drug use is a way to get someone who is perceived as 'undesirable' off the street.

Either way, until we can get lawmakers out of the pockets of business and/ or stop feeling the need to imprison people for being poor or different colored, we aren't going to be changing these laws any time soon. Which of course, is the real crime here.
posted by quin at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2007


Or on post; what everyone else has already said.
posted by quin at 10:09 AM on March 2, 2007


Just throwing this out off the cuff, don't take it as gospel.

The reason getting "high" is deemed as a societal ill comes from the 1950's "always alert for danger" mentality that the start of the Cold War propagated in American society. Readiness drills, Duck and Cover, weekly air raid siren tests (that continued into the 1980's in some areas of the country). If you are "high" you will not respond to these cues in the fashion dictated by the government/authorities. If you are high, you have three things going against you. Altered perception, altered time sense, altered thought processing. Some people, while inebriated, will not recognize a gun being pointed at them. Some will see gun muzzles pointed at them from every direction. Individuals react to inebriation in different ways. Of course, this is simply a laymans theory, and could be completely off-base, though it kind of makes sense considering how surly and much disincentive someone who is stoned is to doing something someone else asks them to do. Usually the phrase heard most often when a "high" person is asked/ordered to do something is "man, you're killing my high." The definition of self-centered jerkwad. Sure, you have the right to be independant and free from unwarranted hassle. However if, say, there was a bomb threat (or a real bomb) in the basement of your apartment building, and the cops are clearing the building, and you are just chilling in your apartment zonked to the gills, well, you'll probably be a bit of a hinderance. Sure, this is a silly analogy, and a logical fallacy for the most part, but there are real issues for public safety organizations if most of the population is wandering around like zombies with goofy grins on their faces. Not to mention the number of people who, well, quite frankly don't have any compunction against mugging your wierd ass and beating the crap out of you in a dark alley and taking your money/wallet/life. As much as I'd like to think these people don't exist, well, they do, and they will see your inebriation as something to take advantage of (unless, of course, you study the art of "Stoned Monkey Kung-Fu", which, to the best of my knowledge involves smoking up, and taking a nap in a tree, then waking up and eating a bunch of bananas).

I have several friends who are very sincerely "alergic" to the effects of marijuana. They have mild anxiety disorders, and smoking marijuana sets off their paranoia to the point where they will curl up into a ball in a corner and whimper until they effects of the drug wear off. Mind you, they are also undergoing therapy and are on anti-depressants, so this could just as likely be a drug interaction issue (since, well, you know, there aren't very many studies about the effects of THC, a seratonin amplifier, and many antidepressants, usually mono-amine inhibitors, though sometimes with other brain chemistry altering effects).
Thus, the ban of public smoking of marijuana makes sense to a large degree. If anything, it should be perfectly legal for you to smoke yourself out at home. It should be perfectly legal for you to smoke out in a designated business establishment where the only patrons would be there for the same purpose. However, smoking a joint on the street, in a restaurant, or any other public area where you risk exposing another person to the effects of the drug should be managed as sensibly as possible. Just like no smoking bans really.

Ok, so I'm tired of playing devil's advocate here. Someone rip these reasonings to shreds please. They are such nice, sturdy strawmen, really.
posted by daq at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2007


Oh, and all you cats throwing the "big pharma is lobbying to keep it illegal" are only slightly deluded. Sure, this threat of market loss is a potential, however, the current societal stigma maintains their markets just fine, thank you. Honestly, they really don't work very hard to lobby for drug laws to be maintained. Mostly they dump their money into getting FDA regulations reduced or eliminated so they can bring the drugs they have to market. Oh, and they also lobby extensively to extend patent terms so they can maintain a longer monopoly on the market to extract more money from their products. But, you know, they're spending billions on lobbyists to make sure each and every politician knows that legalizing marijuana will cause them to close their doors forever.

Stop smoking so much. Seriously.
posted by daq at 10:22 AM on March 2, 2007


I'd like to see better research on why it's so beneficent to some and detrimental to others. It seems to promote incidence of panic attacks for me and some other people. Which sucks if you like its interim effects.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2007


The reason getting "high" is deemed as a societal ill comes from the 1950's "always alert for danger" mentality that the start of the Cold War propagated in American society.

And yet...
posted by Doug at 10:45 AM on March 2, 2007


The reason getting "high" is deemed as a societal ill comes from the 1950's "always alert for danger" mentality that the start of the Cold War propagated in American society. Readiness drills, Duck and Cover, weekly air raid siren tests (that continued into the 1980's in some areas of the country).

Actually, it goes back a little earlier than that -- back to a time when the greatest fear of an upstanding whitebread US citizen was that his woman would have sex with a black man. Or a Chinaman. Or a Mexican. The particular drugs that those races preferred were thought to facilitate that inter-racial sex, so we'd better make sure that anyone caught possessing them goes to prison for a very long time.

To justify those draconian sentences for a victimless crime, you've got to be touching a nerve that runs pretty damn deep.

Here's a thought - if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that?


They've actually been doing that for the last twenty-odd years or so. It's a drug called nabilone/marinol that just contains the active ingredient -- thc. The problem though, is straight patients don't like it because it makes them *too* stoned. It comes on too slowly, and hits like a sledge hammer. Whereas when they smoke marijuana, they're much better able to titrate the dose until it gives them just the amount of pain relief/anti nausea/whatever effect that they need, without getting completely wasted.

Or is it only a sad commentary when it turns out to be true and about a drug you happen to like?

No, it's only a sad commentary when they want to send you to prison for possessing the most effective drug to treat your chronic, intractable or terminal condition.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Repeat after me, American public:

There is nothing wrong with altered states of consciousness.
What other people do to their own bodies is none of my fucking business.
I will not help out big pharma any longer.
posted by tehloki at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2007


Can you smoke just enough pot to relieve pain but not get stoned? This doesn't make sense to me.

Yeah, you can. I've got a chronic arthritis condition. I don't take weed for it often, but when I do, one or two small hits off a pipe is usually enough to dull the pain. That amount only gets me slightly buzzed, not enough to keep me from going about my daily business. I got much more annoying and debilitating mental effects from prescription indomethacin, actually -- while taking it, I was constantly dizzy, tired, confused, headachey, etc. I felt much more unpleasantly "stoned" from that than from even a recreational dose of weed, so much so that I had to switch to another painkiller.

By the way, there is an alternative to smoking that delivers the full benefit of medical marijuana: Sativex. Note that this isn't a synthetic or concentrated drug. It's a whole-plant marijuana extract, very much like the tinctures great-grandma might have taken in the 1920s. I haven't tried it (can't get it here), but I hear that it's a good alternative for those who can't or don't want to inhale smoke. If you like the idea, but you can't get Sativex in your country, you can make your own tinctures at home by soaking marijuana in vodka or grain alcohol. Google "green dragon recipe" for instructions.

The reason getting "high" is deemed as a societal ill comes from the 1950's "always alert for danger" mentality that the start of the Cold War propagated in American society.

Marijuana has been illegal and stigmatized in this country since the late 1930s. The Cold War "always alert for danger" mindset has nothing to do with it -- it was originally more of a yellow journalism/racist hysteria sort of thing. During the 1950s, the main basis for marijuana legislation was fear of narcotics, not of the Soviets or even marijuana itself. As for the rest of your argument, alcohol causes about as much inebriation as marijuana does, so why don't we ban it in case the whole population starts stumbling around like zombies with beers in their hands? Props to you for admitting that people ought to be able to smoke it in private, though.

Anyway, you have some really strange ideas about what being high is like. Yes, everyone reacts differently, but your stereotype of the "typical" smoker has little to do with my subjective experience of the drug, nor with the behavior of most smokers I've known. Especially the part about seeing multiple guns instead of just one -- marijuana does cause some degree of altered perception, but not anywhere close to that much of it. Spontaneous hallucinations of that sort are not common, to say the least!

Try smoking some. Seriously.
posted by vorfeed at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2007


Good old Lester Grinspoon.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2007


Half Baked was not a documentary.

Does this mean Abba-Zaba isn't actually my only friend?
posted by moss at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


When's the last time you heard of a man getting stoned and beating up his wife?

When was the last time you met a gun wielding corner crack slanger who wasn't blunted?
posted by The Straightener at 11:09 AM on March 2, 2007


vorfeed, thanks I smoke my prescribed 1/8th a week.

I know very well what it's like being high. I also know very well what other people who I've smoked with/around are like while high. I know people who feel they have to smoke almost a whole 1/8th in one sitting just to feel anything. I know others who get goofy off of a contact buzz.

And, quite frankly, I think everyone who explores altered states should buy a cheap $10 Radio Shack portable tape recorder with a built in microphone and record themselves while stoned. Then listen to the recordings afterwards when they are completely sober. Not everyone sounds like the typical Hollywood characterization of the "whoa, dude" stoner. I happen to get a little wacked out and philisophical (to the point of expounding excessively on whatever subjects wander through my brain). Others get simply happy. Some just stare blankly into space. But it is very important that you find out what you sound like to others while inebriated though. It might just open your eyes to why some people really don't like being around "stoners".
posted by daq at 11:11 AM on March 2, 2007


Finally, science is good for something.
posted by grytpype at 11:12 AM on March 2, 2007


vorfeed : Google "green dragon recipe" for instructions.

Alternatively, you can check out our very own AskMe.
posted by quin at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2007


It may be worth noting that medical marijuana is legal in California but local governments, certainly those here in the Coachella Valley, have been closing down the shops that sell it with a variety of excuses for not granting or for revoking business licences.
posted by donfactor at 11:21 AM on March 2, 2007


I've never heard of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana.... I did a quick search and didn't find anything, but there might be something out there... anyone?

But the arguments made against marijuana could be made (or were applied) against a multitude of legal drugs as well... I wonder how it would end up if the rules were applied equally?
posted by queenofthegeeks at 11:21 AM on March 2, 2007


Sorry for the poor writing, I should have taken out the "(or were applied)"
posted by queenofthegeeks at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2007


. . . hailed as unassailable proof . . .

All evidence is assailable, and if anyone tries to claim they have some kind of special "unassailable" proof, it's usually a sign to be more suspicious, not less.
posted by grimmelm at 11:25 AM on March 2, 2007


For your viewing pleasure:

Grass (I'm in the credits, so please forgive me if this is considered a self-post)
posted by dbiedny at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pot will make you stupid, eventually. Having said that, I believe it should be legal. I fully support your rights to become stupid, if that's what you want.
posted by tadellin at 11:32 AM on March 2, 2007


queenofthegeeks: it's a frequent argument against prohibition. No one (in recorded human history, is how i've heard it) has died directly from marijuana consumption. Tobacco and alcohol kill at least a half million every year, and kill more people per year than all other illegal drugs combined.

and i'd second the suggestion of viewing Grass. I saw it a few years ago here in portland and a hearty cheer went up when they said Oregon became the first state to decriminalize. I think the textfile equivalent of Grass is the alt.hemp FAQ, a fascinating read.

also, here's a great cover story from the willamette week about growing medical herb in portland, and the community surrounding it.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 11:36 AM on March 2, 2007


The FPP article was written by Lester Grinspoon. He is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of several books detailing his research on various drugs, including Marijuana Reconsidered, Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, and Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine.
"As a doctor, Grinspoon was the first American physician to prescribe lithium carbonate for bipolar disorders. He also founded the Harvard Mental Health Letter, and was its editor for fifteen years.

Grinspoon originally endeavored to write Marijuana Reconsidered in order to build a case against marijuana, but as his research progressed, he realized the complexities of the plant and was moved to advocate for legalization. He has testified before Congress, and as an expert witness in various legal proceedings, including the deportation hearings of John Lennon. Grinspoon worked with Ramsey Clark on a number of international marijuana related incidents."
Dr. Grinspoon's websites -- Marijuana Uses and RxMarijuana.com.
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2007


Here's a thought - if drug companies could isolate the beneficial compounds from marijuana and put them in a more concentrated and easier to take pill, but in so isolating them eliminated the ability to get high, would marijuana advocates support that? Or are most of these studies, while accurate, being used mostly for the purpose of legalizing something that people want to take just so they can get high?

I don't know, should we ask Rush Limbaugh about that?

Seriously though, I can see a hint of paranoia coming through here: "I know ideologically that marijuana is bad because the authorities have told me so for years. Now these scientist guys are telling me its good, but in the last couple of decades scientists have turned bad (i.e., liberal), so we can't trust 'em. They just want to get high."
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:22 PM on March 2, 2007


I know very well what it's like being high.

Then why are you talking about people seeing multiple guns and/or not seeing guns pointed at them? Have you or someone you know ever been so stoned that they saw things that didn't exist and did not react at all to danger? To the extent where if the air raid signal went off, they wouldn't even notice? Even if so, that's their fault, not the fault of the weed. It's not like marijuana forces you to keep smoking. Just as with alcohol, it's your own fault if you keep going once you're already very intoxicated, or if you don't react well to it.

In short, I don't buy the "stoned people won't react to danger" argument. I've had danger come up while very stoned. Mostly kitchen accidents, but once it was actually a neighbor with a gun firing off shots at another neighbor's house... and no, I didn't see him from every direction at once! I dealt with it just fine.

At any rate, I know what I sound like when stoned. I talk a lot, about everything. I'm sure it's annoying, but probably not all that much more annoying than I normally am. As for "why some people really don't like being around stoners", it's the same as why some people really don't like being around drunks: if you're not in an altered state and somebody else is, it can be hard to relate.
posted by vorfeed at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2007


Oh, and it does help to understand the history of drug prohibition in this country. There never was a deliberation about the trade-offs between the benefit and harm of drugs like marijuana and cocaine. The draconian regulation of mood altering drugs came about around the time that alcohol prohibition ended and largely through the efforts of the folks whose disappearing jobs had been to interdict alcohol production and consumption. Henry J. Anslinger, a former prohibition agent, spearheaded much of the hyperbolic lobbying against those drugs that were associated with blacks and musicians and therefore threatening the white youth of America.

The link is to Wikipedia, because I'm too lazy to go find all the original source material on line that I read, oh, so many years ago when I was a young lad just starting out my research career. But if you are really interested in garnering more that simplistic ideological myths about the problem there is plenty of information in your local library.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2007


Can you smoke just enough pot to relieve pain but not get stoned? This doesn't make sense to me.

I was going to reply to this with some personal experience but vorfeed did the job much better than I would've, I'm sure. In any case, another person here saying yes, absolutely.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:38 PM on March 2, 2007


Ok, so I'm tired of playing devil's advocate here. Someone rip these reasonings to shreds please. They are such nice, sturdy strawmen, really.

They're not even worth bothering with, and poorly worded too.
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2007


Mental Wimp : Oh, and it does help to understand the history of drug prohibition in this country. There never was a deliberation about the trade-offs between the benefit and harm of drugs like marijuana and cocaine...

Absolutely. But of greater interest to me is why this prohibition has been allowed to continue. I mean, I commented above on the possible connections to the pharmaceutical industry, or that it's useful for enforcing law in an unbalanced but legal way. But I don't think that either of these things are actually the reason. I'm guessing that they are just byproducts of a larger problem.

It could be that the laws and sentiments just have so much inertia at this point, that trying to stop or change them will always be met with resistance, but even that doesn't ring completely true to me. Other massively entrenched beliefs were overcome and put to rest (segregation, woman's rights, etc). What is it about this issue that prevents us from even having a realistic dialog with the government about repealing these laws?

The irony here is that I haven't even touched the stuff in about 15 years, I just can't understand how effectively this discussion gets shut down anytime someone brings up the idea of legalization or hell, even decriminalization. I would bet that more than half of the adults in the United States had at some point been around or tried the drug. They have seen with their own eyes that it doesn't turn you into a raving maniac. And we have report after report yielding scientific evidence that it's effects, far from harmful, are actually quite good at solving problems that we don't have better answers to.

So how is it that we can't even begin to broach the subject without being labeled as a 'stoner' or whatever?
posted by quin at 1:28 PM on March 2, 2007


vorfeed, are you so high that you forgot how to comprehend written language?

What did I say? I believe it was "Altered perception, altered time sense, altered thought processing. Some people, while inebriated, will not recognize a gun being pointed at them. Some will see gun muzzles pointed at them from every direction. Individuals react to inebriation in different ways."

Different people behave differently under certain circumstances. Ever been stoned at a party and watched a fight break out? Ever been able to pick up on the impetus for the fight before it happened while stoned? Sure, you react differently that others might. A paranoid schizophrenic, stoned, might decide that any threat to them is a reason to grab their stockpile of guns'n'ammo and start shooting anyone who looks in their direction. Or he might decide to start masturbating, you never know. I've seen the latter, thankfully not the former.

This also goes to my friends who do not smoke marijuana, and their reasons for it are quite clear. Some are on anti-depressants and marijuana reacts differently because of the other chemicals in their systems. Some are just naturally high strung with all sorts of undiagnosed and untreated mental issues. They all have one thing in common. They freak out on psychotropics. This means that while you might not get paranoid and freaked out when smoking from the same bong as them, from the exact same nug, they might suddenly hear cops outside ready to break down the door. And yes, I have unfortunately experienced this, and talking someone down off the ceiling is not really that fun and tends to ruin a perfectly good evening of sitting on the couch watching cartoons, munching on Fruit Brute and Fruity Pebbles.

Marijuana is not the wonder drug for everyone. That's my point. It is not aspirin. It is not Tylenol. It is a psychotropic drug which causes altered mental states which some people are ill equipped or unable to handle. Just like some people can't handle their liquor, some people can't handle their weed. Get it?

Your experience with drugs is different from mine. Just because you and everyone you know has never had a problem with drugs or alcohol does not mean that other people have not.
posted by daq at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2007


My god I'm turning into my dad.

Ugh.

Thanks, damn hippies.
posted by daq at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2007


vorfeed, are you so high that you forgot how to comprehend written language?

No. But here's something I said in my previous posts that you seem to have missed: "Yes, everyone reacts differently", and "just as with alcohol, it's your own fault if you keep going once you're already very intoxicated, or if you don't react well to it."

Throughout this thread, you've been blaming marijuana for people's unpredictable behavior, and you've suggested that this behavior is the reason why marijuana is stigmatized, all while ignoring the fact that freaking out on marijuana is abnormal. As in, it generally does not happen to people with normal brain chemistry. Yes, some people can't handle their weed -- I've personally known a few -- but this is not an argument against weed in general. If you have a problem with marijuana, you need to take personal responsibility for that problem and refrain from smoking, rather than blaming your behavior on the drug or acting as if your problem should have any bearing on policy made for the average person.

For example, my mother freaks out on even slight amounts of pain medication. This means she shouldn't take any pain medication. It does not mean that pain medication ought to be stigmatized because people on meds won't get off their couches when it's time to fight the Reds! And as for marijuana "not being aspirin", I know somebody who nearly bled to death internally because he took one baby aspirin every day, per his doctor's orders. That's not a normal reaction, so while it suggests that one might want to be careful with aspirin, it is not enough to justify generalized anti-aspirin sentiment.

"Different people react in different ways" is true of just about every substance on Earth, which is why we need to make policy based on usual effects, not on individual reactions. And the usual effects of marijuana do NOT include seeing multiples of objects in every direction, freaking the fuck out and masturbating in public, or shooting people. Get it?
posted by vorfeed at 2:37 PM on March 2, 2007


quin (the eskimo?)

Other massively entrenched beliefs were overcome and put to rest (segregation, woman's rights, etc). What is it about this issue that prevents us from even having a realistic dialog with the government about repealing these laws?

Well, much blood was shed to put one to rest and the other, well, it may not yet be at rest, but nevermind. To the point of your comment.

I agree that it is vexing that such a simple and obvious solution is so difficult to implement. To some extent it may be that although anti-drug education is feeble and ineffective at stemming illicit drug use, it is well-funded and ubiquitous and therefore highly effective propaganda for the continued criminalization of users! And since more effective, experimentally proven versions of anti-drug education have been around for at least a couple of decades but have not been implemented, a cynical part of me thinks that may be the reason. Anti-drug activity is big business, and as such may have organizational momentum on its side without any individuals actually having to conspire to deviously block decriminalization.

I think it will take brave politicians who are willing to set ideology aside and who are willing to educate the electorate on the harm prohibition has done and is doing and to champion more rational (and cost-effective; are you llistening, true conservatives and libertarians?) policies through legislation. I, for one, would vote for any politician who vociferously supported both this and universal health care coverage, regardless of party affiliation.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2007


I guess I wasn't l-listening myelf. Sorry about that. And never mind, not nevermind.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2007


The reason for marijuana prohibition at this point in time is, IMHO, somewhat obvious:

Money.

The prison industry and all the things that feed it and rely on it, as well as the incredibly screwed laws introduced under Reagan (I'm primarily thinking of the forfeiture laws which fatten up local police departments), virtually guarantee that the attitudes we see from the Feds will not change anytime soon - there's simply too much $$$ at stake. And as far as the alcohol question, I suspect it has something to do with that whole wine and the Bible connection. The religious fanatics need their Dead Jewish Carpenter Rabbi/Messiah™ representational blood and all, and God protect you if anyone tries to fuck with their rituals, you Pagan bastards.

There is enough historical information to make it quite clear that the hemp plant is intensely useful, and the flowers of that plant intensely interesting, but corporate powers could never quite control the growing and distribution of a plant that grows just about anywhere on this good planet.

And as far as the demonization of the word DRUG - what the fuck does that sign above your pharmacy say? Oh yeah, it's a DRUG store. Silly me. That drug that grows on a plant, that lovely flower, that's not a good drug, like the kind we can tax and control, no sirree. Here, have some of this BETTER DRUG™, the one that your insurance provider will be billed sick amounts of cash for, the one that needs to be manufactured, packaged and marketed on TV. Yessir, that's the GOOD DRUG™ that the preznit will let you take without reprisal.

It's just part of the delusional state of our lovely modern society.

Here, have a drink and a pill, and you'll soon forget about those lovely flowers.

Making nature illegal is so much fun, and so fucking logical (apologies to Mr. Hicks, a dead hero...)
posted by dbiedny at 3:07 PM on March 2, 2007


Oh, and all you cats throwing the "big pharma is lobbying to keep it illegal" are only slightly deluded. Sure, this threat of market loss is a potential, however, the current societal stigma maintains their markets just fine, thank you. Honestly, they really don't work very hard to lobby for drug laws to be maintained.

Yes, but if the current societal stigma (which is significantly magnified by our government) fell away, I bet big pharma would work harder at this. Why wouldn't they? They'd have a strong financial incentive to do so.
posted by treepour at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2007


"Half Baked was not a documentary"

they were referring ( or reefering) to G-13
posted by vronsky at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2007


Pastabegel said the debate should focus on the "getting high is ok" part in order to ascertain precisely why people still want these things to be illegal. I agree and wish everyone would read that again.
posted by Area Control at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2007


the debate should focus on the "getting high is ok" part in order to ascertain precisely why people still want these things to be illegal

I think that would be an even more uphill battle, but do definitely agree that the discussion would most certainly be more interesting.

I suspect that the conventional wisdom is that one day we might be able to convince those in power that the medical benefits outweigh the perceived societal risks. Whereas arguing from the perspective of 'it feels good, so let's do it' allows for the more puritanically minded to weigh in on the evils of enjoying something pleasurable. In a good and just world, these people would be marginalized with the simple response "No one is forcing you to do it, and it harms no one, so don't dictate what others can and can't do in the privacy of their homes" but in our real world, these right thinkers enjoy a lot of traction in pushing their views on the larger whole of society under the guise of being morally better, or doing it 'for the children'.

I would love to see the debate, but I suspect it's one that would go to the other guys.
posted by quin at 6:48 PM on March 2, 2007


Do we have a different attitude in this country about the effects of pot, say vs. alcohol? There's some kind of spectrum of social acceptance, with alcohol on one end (or Kool-Aid, depending on how you count) and let's say meth on the other. I think pot gets pushed down the stack in favor of the more socially lubricating alcohol. Personally, I favor Darwinian legalization of most things. Quin mentions the children. Maybe this country still isn't ready to discuss getting high with it's kids. From what I've seen in smaller European venues, they regulate it socially pretty well, without the need of too much emphasis on law enforcement. It probably comes down to the family.
posted by Area Control at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2007


Getting high on heroin is not likely to be considered okay any time soon, yet opium poppies are massively and legitimately cultivated for pharmaceutical narcotics. The idea that the particular debate on the medical efficacy of a particular psychoactive plant cannot or should not be considered independently of the debate on its overall legality is absurd.

While I believe that marijuana should be legal, and that its legalization would be a net benefit on all fronts, I am also aware that a much larger percentage of individuals in the U.S. (I am not aware of what global statistics are, if they exist) support the legalization of marijuana for medical use than support its general legalization. Thus medical legalization is more attainable at this time.

And the reason, Pastabagel et al, that I would like to see marijuana become medically available is twofold. The first is that I believe many individuals would benefit from it immediately. The second is that the barriers to research into marijuana's efficacy would be lowered. Given the scores of poorly understood cannabinoids present in marijuana, and the widely varying effects different varieties can have, this would be likely to be fruitful research.

Are some people merely interested in the medical legalization of marijuana as a means of lowering the barrier to general legalization? Sure. Guess what? It doesn't make their arguments any less valid. And the idea that sick people should be denied effective medicine while society muddles through the vastly more ambiguous and thorny debate of which modes of intoxication should be considered legitimate is callous and stupid.
posted by nanojath at 9:53 PM on March 2, 2007


"The debate should focus on that, not on the pain reducing effects of marijuana. Cocaine reduces pain too. The reason it is illegal is not because people thought it had no beneficial effects."

Exactly. If I could pick that up a little bit the discussions surrounding drugs, homosexuality, gambling, prostitution, etc. should all be expanded beyond the specifics of each argument into a broader argument of why the government is allowed to regulate certain types of behavior, but not universally.

If it's legal to get intoxicated with alcohol, why not with marijuana? If you get financial benefits for mingling your assets and declaring a partnership with someone of the opposite sex, why not with some one of the same sex? How come it's legal to gamble in Las Vegas and several other places, but you can be arrested for it somewhere else? Why is it legal to degrade someone daily with terrible working conditions, unless that person has sex for a living (in which case both of you can be arrested?)

Vice laws have no place in a free society, in my opinion. The problems that result from so-called vice activities are already covered under other laws, so why not use them to deal with the problems (Politicians will cite social ills of drugs to support the continued ban on their use, but will they speak out about the social ills brought about by state-funded professional sports arenas or Wal-Marts? Not on your life....)
posted by illovich at 7:16 AM on March 3, 2007


I don't even care what the government does. Here in the free republic of New Yorkistan, you are effectively fine if you have less than an ounce on you in public and you're otherwise not a troublemaker in the eyes of the NYPD. (On the other hand, if you are black a troublemaker, they might bust you for a half and smoke it themselves.) Love it.

Now I am going to roll a fattie.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2007


Regarding not wanting to inhale smoke: vaporize.

Doesn't even smell much like marijuana, and it helps preserve limited stashes so one needn't expose themselves as frequently to driving around with their medicine.

But mostly, it's just an effective, gentle way to dose, medicinally or otherwise.
posted by wires at 8:51 AM on March 3, 2007


does anyone have a link to the actual journal article?
posted by Doorstop at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2007


does anyone have a link to the actual journal article?

Abstract.

Full-text and PDF [requires subscription or one-time payment of $20).
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on March 3, 2007


This may be the full-article. It has more info than the 'Neurology' abstract.
posted by ericb at 12:43 PM on March 3, 2007


Thanks, ericb; I tried finding it myself but failed.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:30 PM on March 3, 2007


daq needs to mellow out and smoke a fat doobie.
posted by ageispolis at 1:48 PM on March 3, 2007


Late entry -- this thread appears to have proceeded unaware of a significant recent study (with some precedents in the literature) that found even *heavy* marijuana smoking was not associated with any cancers or lung disease.

Vaporizers are nice, but nothing beets a fattie at the end of the day.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2007


beats, damn this stuff
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:45 PM on March 5, 2007


« Older Holi: The Festival of Colours....  |  Listening... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments