I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23
If you thought this was about a woman named Mary Jane, you are wrong. Mary Jane is a nickname for marijuana, which has been increasingly legalized in states around the country. In my lifetime, I have watched this drug move from illegal to legal.
It started in the 1960’s, when America was in a rebellious stage. Flower children and free sex became commonplace, along with marijuana. I was in law school and married at the time. But for the fact that I didn’t have time to try it, I suppose I would have.
Somehow, just like cigarettes, I’ve had an intuitive sense of possible dangerous side-effects. Smoking anything can’t be good, and it doesn’t take a PhD in chemistry or a medical degree to realize that the chemical side effects of cannabis (or THC) are complex.
Like many of my era, I smoked cigarettes briefly in college. No one had connected the dots that smoking causes cancer at the time. I stopped early in my career when a secretary of mine, a life-long smoker, got emphysema, a lung disease. When she quit, I quit too.
Glad I did. Now cigarettes have this warning label on each pack telling you that smoking can cause cancer. In Europe, the label is a little more direct. In big bold letters on the side of a cartoon is the label: “SMOKING KILLS’. Not too subtle.
Which brings me back to marijuana. Recent studies show that more than half of the public favor legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, popular opinion often ignores science, which is now developing about the negative side effects of marijuana use.
Instead, much of the policy argument in favor of legalization is that they want to treat marijuana like alcohol which is a legal drug.
Legislators are complicit in their desire to legalize marijuana. Ito them, legal marijuana is source of revenue that they can achieve through taxing its sale. Never mind that it is dangerous as long as it brings in revenue.
Alcohol abuse has always been a problem, too. It is an addictive drug resulting in alcoholism. But the dangers of marijuana haven’t been in the headlines. Until recently, that is.
Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and author of 12 novels, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled Marijuana is More Dangerous Than You Think. The article is an eye opener.
Berenson cites research going back 150 years that has linked marijuana to mental illness, much of which has been glossed over by the advocates for legalization. Current research shows a direct connection between marijuana use and violent crime.
The statistics are grim and getting worse. Murder rates in the few states that have approved the sale and use of marijuana have increased disproportionately over other states where it is not legal.
Yet, the beat goes on by those in favor of legalization. It is often “sold” as a means to focus on really dangerous drugs like heroin or fentanyl.
But marijuana is “dangerous”, particularly if you are the object of violence. Marijuana use doubles the amount domestic violence by adolescents based on a 2012 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. That’s not a small increase.
Even Motley Fool has a new investing service called Marijuana Masters which provides “all you need to know to get invested in the marijuana boom.” It publishes the “Cannabis Investor Alert”, and it assumes (as do most others) that the negatives of using marijuana are benign.
Just as the early research on cigarettes started to highlight the health risks, it took years before the direct connection of smoking to cancer was confirmed. Most anecdotal evidence of the effects of cannabis and THC is based on experiences with a much less potent variety of marijuana than what is now being sold.
This is important to all, not to just the millennials who might assume that using marijuana is fine, and they only need to be worried about driving a car when they are high.
Because the legalization of marijuana is still is in its infancy, I suspect that we still don’t know the entire tale of how bad it really is. The early evidence, however, is frightening, and the policy cost of higher mental health issues and violence are mounting.
Given the recent studies showing a skyrocketing increase of depression and suicide by the next generation, I view them as particularly vulnerable to the possible impact of marijuana on their life and mental condition.
As Paul notes in the above passage, we have freedom as believers, but not everything we can or might do is constructive or beneficial. Marijuana use is one of those things.
The challenge here is to make sure others know that marijuana use is not harmless, and it can lead to serious psychotic episodes and even violence.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Be sure your mentee, if he uses marijuana, knows of the negative side effects. It is not a harmless substance that is being promoted by those wanting to legalize it.
FURTHER RESEARCH: Connection between Cannabis and mental disordersand schizophrenia.
Psychology Today: Marijuana Use Increases Violent Behavior
Wall Street Journal: Marijuana is More Dangerous Than you Think.
WORSHIP: Listen to Vertical Church Band play I’m Going Free (Jailbreak).
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