Legalize it!

July 31, 2014 • 5:06 am

Since I was a teenager and college student in the Sixties, I’m familiar, as everyone was, with the prevalence of drug use. People often took psychedelic drugs for “spiritual” experiences, but the social drug of choice was marijuana. Everyone I knew, with very few exceptions, used it, nobody was harmed by it, and, at least in my observation, it wasn’t a gateway to “harder” drugs like heroin. None of my friends have become addicted to those “harder” drugs.

Research has borne out the relative harmlessness of marijuana: it is far less damaging to society, and to one’s health, than are tobacco and alcohol—both legal drugs. There are now no good reasons to make alcohol legal for adults but prohibit marijuana. Indeed, marijuana, unlike alcohol and tobacco, has positive health effects, and its medicinal uses are sanctioned in several states.

Nevertheless, I’ve watched my friends, as they’ve grown older and become parents themselves, become more dubious about pot.  Often they’ve stopped smoking it themselves, and, almost without exception, they warn their children against it, speaking darkly of its inimical effects. Yet these are the very children who used pot themselves, and have become respectable pillars of society: doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, and military officers.

Many public figures have also “admitted” to pot use, including Bill Clinton (though he “didn’t inhale’), Oprah Winfrey, Clarence Thomas (!), John Kerry, Bill Gates, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Turner, David Letterman, Martha Stewart (“of course I know how to roll a joint”), Andrew Sullivan, Sarah Palin (!), Oliver Stone, Rick Steves, and, of course, Snoop Dogg (or Lion, whatever he calls himself now).

I’ve learned not to argue with my old friends about their anti-dope stand. It has something to do, I suppose, with “protecting” their children, although when they were young adults they would have scoffed at the idea of needing protection from pot. I accept their views as irrational, like being religious. Let’s face it: pot is fun. It doesn’t hurt you—unless it leads to overconsumption of chocolate-chip cookies. (I once watched one of my stoned friends, now a famous biologist who will remain unnamed, consume an entire one-pound box of brown sugar with a spoon.)

It’s time to legalize marijana and hashish for adults. As a side note, I’d argue that we should legalize every drug that doesn’t cause its user to hurt other people, and that is most drugs. (We already know that legalizing alcohol will cause deaths from drunken drivers.) Besides producing tax revenues, as marijuana has in Colorado and Washington—the states where it’s legal—legalizing psychedelic drugs for adults would give them the possibility of wonderful mental experiences now barred to them. (See Sam Harris’s upcoming book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion). Legalizing heroin use, as Switzerland has, would allow states to make sure usage was safer, and get rid of most of the criminal activity involved in purveying these drugs. (I’m not so sure abut methamphetimine, as its regular usage causes addiction and substantial physical damage.) And thousands of people in jail for using or selling marijuana simply wouldn’t be there; that’s an enormous savings to the state and federal government.

One can argue about some drugs, but I see no sensible argument for banning marijuana use, and big advantages for governments via tax revenue and the elimination of criminal activity, not to mention increased pleasure of our citizens.  One can also argue about the age of usage. In a new editorial, “Repeal Prohibition, Again”, the New York Times says that the age of use should be set at 21 (they claim concerns about the “development of adolescent brains; see below), while I’d provisionally favor 18, the age at which most countries allow legal consumption of alcohol (it’s 19 in Canada).

I’m glad the Times is taking the lead on this. Like gay marriage, I think the legalization of marijuana and hashish for both medical and recreational use in the U.S. is inevitable, for—also like gay marriage—there is no down side save the ire of those ignorant of its effects.  And yay! for the Times:

It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws. . .

. . . The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.

. . . We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

Finally, if you’re going to carp about the health effects of pot, read an ancillary article in the Times: “What science says about marijuana,” by Philip M Boffey. Boffey notes that the stronger strains of dope may have minor health risks, but risks that are much smaller than those of alcohol and tobacco. And the chance of “addiction” to marijuana is vastly overrated (and without severe health effects anyway); the Times gives this graph:

Screen shot 2014-07-31 at 6.39.31 AM

If you’re a user, you’re just as likely to be addicted to Xanax as you are to marijuana.

Boffey counters many arguments against dope, asserting that these can be minimized with a system of government regulation like we have against alcohol. There is little danger, based on other studies, that legalization will lead to a public health epidemic.

As with other recreational substances, marijuana’s health effects depend on the frequency of use, the potency and amount of marijuana consumed, and the age of the consumer. Casual use by adults poses little or no risk for healthy people. Its effects are mostly euphoric and mild, whereas alcohol turns some drinkers into barroom brawlers, domestic abusers or maniacs behind the wheel.

How bad is pot for you? Read this:

While tobacco causes cancer, and alcohol abuse can lead to cirrhosis, no clear causal connection between marijuana and a deadly disease has been made. Experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the scientific arm of the federal anti-drug campaign, published a review of the adverse health effects of marijuana in June that pointed to a few disease risks but was remarkably frank in acknowledging widespread uncertainties. Though the authors believed that legalization would expose more people to health hazards, they said the link to lung cancer is “unclear,” and that it is lower than the risk of smoking tobacco.

The very heaviest users can experience symptoms of bronchitis, such as wheezing and coughing, but moderate smoking poses little risk. A 2012 study found that smoking a joint a day for seven years was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function. Experts say that marijuana increases the heart rate and the volume of blood pumped by the heart, but that poses a risk mostly to older users who already have cardiac or other health problems.

Nevertheless, Boffey cites two studies that heavy dope usage when young might erode IQ, though that’s not the final word:

A long-term study based in New Zealand, published in 2012, found that people who began smoking heavily in their teens and continued into adulthood lost an average of eight I.Q. points by age 38 that could not be fully restored. A Canadian study published in 2002 also found an I.Q. loss among heavy school-age users who smoked at least five joints a week.

The case is not completely settled. The New Zealand study was challenged by a Norwegian researcher who said socio-economic factors may have played a role in the I.Q. loss.

But of course alcohol and tobacco are far more harmful: young kids who drink and smoke are likely to continue to do so when they get older, posing serious problems to their own health and leading to larger public-health problems.

If we’re going to ban pot, let’s first ban tobacco and alcohol. Fat chance! If we allow people to have the pleasurable uses of alcohol, but control its abuse by taxation and restriction of sales to adults, then there is no credible argument against treating marijuana the same way.

If cats can have their catnip, why can’t we have ours?


242 thoughts on “Legalize it!

  1. As someone who smoked way too much pot as a young man I am pleased to not fall into the “parents themselves, become more dubious about pot” crowd. As it happens my kids (now in mid-twentys) seem to have no interest in it. If they did, the only thing I’d really worry about was the potential consequences of getting busted. Our draconian anti-marijuana laws destroy far more lives than weed ever did.

    1. I think your kids are pretty normal for their time and generation. I have no cite for this, but I believe studies have shown that (despite adult preconceptions otherwise), today’s teens actually live a lot healtier than previous generations – less drugs or alcohol, more exercise, etc… Of course the next generation could swing back, but for the moment, we seem to be at a low ebb in teen misbehavior.

    2. For a lot of parents, thinking that your kids seem to have no interest in it simply means they are good at hiding it. 😉

      1. But they had no reason to hide it. (Remember, I’m not in the “dubious about pot” club.)

        (Besides, I recognize the fragrance enough.)

        (I often tip a pint with them or share a bottle of wine. If they had a joint, they’d offer to share. 😉 )

  2. Whilst you are at it, the sex industry ought to be legalised for the safety of the women involved, health benefits all round and the simple fact that it is always going to happen.

    A few simple reforms to marijuana and the sex industry will make our societies ( I am in the UK so there are differences) fairer, less hypocritical and also easier to police.

    1. I agree, although I must clarify that sex-workers are not exclusively female. I wish I could remember where I read the article, so that I could link it, but I read a piece once on a study that surveyed the sex trade in several societies ranging from those with the most permissive prostitution laws, to those with the most restrictions. The study suggested that there was a strong correlation between restrictive prostitution laws and public health crises associated with the sex trade. And, if memory serves the opposite was true of societies in which there is legalized prostitution.

      1. I think that’s a good parallel drugs, btw.

        Here we have partially legalized prostitution, but there’s still the problem of illegal sex-trade.

        No matter who starts first at loosening the grip on drug prohibition there’s still a flourishing market around it.

        Paradigm shifts can happen fast, but society as a whole is usually slow to adjust, imo.

        I’ve been told by wiser stoners than me that back when they started enjoying the herb they were certain that legalization was just around the corner.

        It’s great to see America starting to come around and hopefully it’s the beginning of a global trend, but in DK we’ve still got some way to go.

        We don’t even recognize and allow it as medicine yet.

        Hopefully it’s the new Coca-Cola and the waves will continue to spread out.

        USA! USA! USA! 😉

      2. Prostitution has been legal in New Zealand for about ten years now. It is much safer for workers and clients and has cut down on several types of crime. Also the “moral decline” predicted by religious groups has, of course, failed to materialize.

  3. On the July 28 edition of the Jon Stewart show, Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey” talked about the incredible cost of America’s war on drugs that is paid by other countries.

    After spending billions of dollars to stop the flow of drugs from the Caribbean, the result is that the drug trade has now re-routed through central America, turning countries like Hounduras into a hell hole.

    The tens of thousands of children being held in camps at the border awaiting deportation are a direct result of this genocidal policy.

    1. Genocidal? That I am afraid is misusing a very emotive word. It might be bad; it might be nasty; but it is not genocidal. That term should be reserved for the, mercifully, rare situations where there is a deliberate killing of peoples purely due to their ethnicity.

      1. Agreed. What is happening is sad and a hard problem, but it is not genocide in any normal sense of the word, which is the forced extirpation of an ethnic group. None of those children has been killed by the U.S. And I don’t want to see this word defined in such a way that it can cover the sequestered kids; that kind of cheapening of language can be done on other websites.

        1. Yes, I agree that I misused the word genocidal.

          What can not be denied is that there is a direct causal link between US domestic and foreign policy on drugs (i.e. the war on drugs) and the breakdown of civil society and rule of law in countries like Mexico, Hounduras and Guatemala.

          The fact that Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate (Source: Global Study on Homicide 2013, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) is directly attributable to US foreign policy in general and most recently to it’s insane war on drugs.

          So it’s not genocidal in the sense that these people were deliberately targeted based on race or religion but they are still just as dead.

          1. There is a very large Honduran community in my town. A few blocks away from my home is a neighborhood dubbed “little Tegus” after Tegucigalpa the capital of Honduras. With every story I read about the influx of immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala, I can’t help but wonder how many of those unaccompanied minors are relation to some of my neighbors.

    1. Yes, and it also appears that the dangers to health from heroin addiction are more a consequence of poor diet and not caring about one’s health than of the substance itself.

      There’s an irony in that those most forthright in their opposition to legalising heroin are on the same side, in that respect, as drug traffickers.

      1. That’s why for drugs like heroin, I’m for decriminalization with strong programs for rehabilitation and getting users off the drug. Many times, there are other underlying psychological issues with addicts, so they may not be fully functional even without the drug use. But whether lack of diet and motivation are the direct result or the use or not, even if they’re secondary effects, we should try to reduce the use. I’ve seen family members who have been hooked on heroin and the result is still not pretty even during sober times; society certainly doesn’t need to add to their issues by stigmatizing them and criminalizing the behavior though.

  4. Legalising heroin would also make it more available for pain, which was its main use until the wowsers (google it) forced its removal from the pharmacopeia, thereby depriving us of the use of one our best painkillers. It was named “heroine” for a reason, because it was so awesomely good. They dropped the final “e” to stop us from thinking positively about it because it was seen as more important to stop 2% of the population from having a good time than to provide trauma victims and cancer sufferers with effective and safe pain relief.

    I think the attitudes of the twentieth century to recreational drugs will be looked back on in the same way we think of the Victorian moral panic, which saw pianos provided with frilly skirts for their legs and legs referred to as “limbs” because the word was too licentious. They’ll think we all went crazy. Like witch burning it ruins lives and makes no sense but we persisted with it anyway

    1. I was going to mention that as well. People abused pain killers and then others decided to be puritan about it and took it away from everyone so that people struggling with pain were denied. I was enraged when I heard this as I know what it is like to live with unrelenting pain with no relief in sight. Just plain ridiculous to do this!

      1. Broward County Florida (Ft. Lauderdale) was notorious in 2010 and 2011 for being an easy place to score prescription drugs. Apparently there were a relatively small number of physicians in suburban Browrd Co. prescribing enough oxycontin to supply addicts from as far away as Missouri and Kentucky, which is about 1000 miles. Federal, State and local law enforcement “cracked-down” so hard on personal use that they now have an enforcement strategy around this issue that basically says we’d rather let 100 patients go without the treatment that they need than let one addict get one pill. Patients are suffering for it. Doctors are afraid to prescribe the medication. The mother of an ex-girlfriend suffers from chronic arthritis. When she can get an oxycodone prescription, she can lead a normal life. Without it, she relies on Alieve and can barely function. Her inability to get her Rx regularly filled has forced her to accept a demotion at work that allows her to work from home, and this isn’t even close to the worst sob story regarding our oxy troubles in SoFL.

    2. the wowsers (google it) forced its removal from the pharmacopeia, thereby depriving us of the use of one our best painkillers

      Which country are you in that has removed diacetylmorphine from it’s pharmacopeia?
      It’s never been off the pharmacopeia here (UK), though it has been strictly controlled for a long time. Hell, I’ve got friends who’ve been on it for weeks after major injuries. It is, as you say, a damned effective pain killer, with relatively mild side effects when used as a pain killer.

      1. It’s my understanding that patients who aren’t already addicts pretty much universally self-administer analgesic narcotics at just the right amount to ease the pain without inducing euphoria and are at no meaningful risk for addiction.

        Times I’ve been prescribed super-Tylenol (the one with codeine), that’s certainly been the case. The first day or two I’m likely to take the next dose an hour or two ahead of schedule, but I’ve yet to finish even half a bottle.


        1. Do you think that “Marella” was using “pharmacopeia” to indicate the selection of drugs available without prescription (a.k.a. “over the counter”)?

  5. Wise words indeed, I agree wholeheartedly with both Jerry and bonetired (#2).
    Only addition:
    I haven’t used pot for a long time (years, but I’ve lost count), and refuse to do so for what I regard as a very good (and often conveniently overlooked) reason: I am not going to willingly fund organised crime, and that’s final.

    1. At least with maryjane, a good deal of it is grown in the U.S., and not necessarily associated with criminal drug cartels. And it doesn’t involve dangerous cooking such as in meth labs. I suppose it’s pretty hard to know its source though. Another argument for legalization.

  6. Anti-marijuana laws do not work. Legalization is the moral thing to do. To my knowledge no lives are torn violently apart from its use, but many lives are destroyed from the violence associated with its repression.

    Legalize It

    I cannot shake the reminder that the shame people feel about marijuana use is similar to how many religious folk view sex: as if it is some forbidden pleasure we must all condemn for no rational reason.

  7. In addition to all the points you made, which are good enough by themselves to warrant legalization, you didn’t even mention the “War On Drugs.” Countless money, resources, damaged lives, deaths and the damages to our cultures. It is a tragedy.

    On a side note, there have been many studies over the years, some fairly old, some just recently, that indicate that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to health. Some have focused on compounds other than the alcohol, such as flavonoids, while others have focused on alcohol itself. The evidence is mounting that a glass of wine or a beer a day is good for you.

    1. But studies touting specifically the benefits of !*red wine*! (my favorite “vice”) have alas been debunked.

      1. As far as I am aware, only in the sense that red wine is not the only alcoholic beverage that has the benefits previous studies attributed solely to it.

    2. Assuming the legalization of the recreational drugs described in this posting comes to pass, would you say that “Just Say No” is a reasonable, appropriate and sufficient modus operandi/strategy for anyone declining to use – or inclined to stop using – said drugs, whatever her/his reasons?

      1. I am not sure that I understand your question, but I’ll try an answer.

        I think that anyone at any time under any circumstances should not partake if they don’t want to. I also think that everyone should make the effort to reasonably well inform themselves about the effects and possible risks of whatever it is they are thinking about trying, before they try it.

      2. Not sure what you’re asking either, but as of now it’s pretty easy to obtain, as are cigarettes and alcohol for underaged adolescents. Which is why Nancy R. spearheaded the whole “just say no” campaign, which has been, to put it mildly, unsuccessful.
        The point here is that prohibition simply doesn’t work, and in fact causes more harm than good.

  8. Alcohol is responsible for 25,000 deaths per year, and cigarettes are responsible for 480,000 deaths per year. Are you saying that anything with a smaller body count should be legalized? I’m not sure you’ve really thought through the basis for this argument.

    We didn’t carefully consider the health impact of cigarettes and decide that they were probably okay. It’s a $17 Billion industry with better representation in Congress than you or I have.

    We didn’t carefully consider the impact of alcohol and decide that its okay, either. It’s impossible now to make it illegal. They have $162 Billion in revenues in 2013.

    I also don’t think you’ve read the full literature on the health effects of cannabis. They include rare myocardial infarction (in young people), stroke, arteritis, emphysema, possibly lung cancer and almost certainly psychoses in susceptible individuals. I won’t spam in papers here, but there are dozens on this topic that develop both epidemiological evidence and biological plausibility based on CB1 and CB2 receptors.

    For the record, I support some form of decriminalization, treating people instead of jailing them. Full legalization will have unintended consequences that we will realize too late.

    1. I certainly have thought through the consequences of legalizing marijuana, and have done so for over 40 years. The small problems are balanced by the big upside: medicinally,recreationally, taxation-ally, and elimination of prosecution for harmless activity and the pervasive drug trade that is wrecking Central America.

      I expect you to apologize for accusing me of not thinking this through; I expressed my honest opinion.

      And I presume, given the big body count for alcohol, that you’d favor prohibition again were its use not entrenched. I got news for you: prohibition didn’t work. Neither does prohibition of pot.

      Oh, and by the way we had 33,351 traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2012. I suppose, since that’s more that deaths due to alcohol, we should ban cars, too. Presumably all those who favor automobiles simply haven’t thought things through.

      You seem like someone who wants to prevent people from having pleasure if there’s ANY downside to that pleasure, and I have no patience for somebody who thinks we should completely ban alcohol. I’d like to know the figures for how many young people have died directly from using marijuana. I’ve found fewer than a dozen.

      1. You are spot on with the traffic death argument. I would add to that, the death count for alcohol and traffic deaths contains a significant overlap. Last I read, something like 40-50% of traffic deaths are alcohol related.

        The answer here is to take action to reduce the odds drunk driving occurs (and far more than we have already). The US lags well behind Europe in both traffic deaths per capital and traffic deaths per mile driven. We need to improve our infrastructure, add a lot more mass transit, provide better driver training, and more services for people who drove but then consumed too much to get home without having to drive (many college campuses and urban areas already have some limited systems like this).

        Of course, with the political environment in America, I don’t see much hope for doing all this stuff (which will also have other benefits such as reduced time spent in traffic and greater productivity). No, America rather continue to subject others to moral judgment (much of the ire against alcohol also comes from the fundamentalist crowd who thinks alcohol is of Satan) about personal habits and then rather than mitigate the risks associated with alcohol or drug use, continue to quote how many deaths it causes. Let’s not forget the hypocrisy of many of these citizens in the southern red states who are massively overweight (which causes numerous health problems), but are against even the mildest regulations such as more transparency in food labeling and restaurant menus.

        1. And there seems to be a general, quite unfounded assumption, that legalis(z)ing a hard drug would increase its use. For a start, the tens of thousands of pushers in schools and other youth communities would disappear in a flash.

        2. In my children’s lifetime, texting and the like will likely outpace drug-impaired related deaths on the road.

      2. I recall seeing a British documentary a few years back which looked at some of the first medicinal trials of cannabis formulations – I think they concentrated on people with arthritis and other musculo-skeletal issues.

        One of the doctors commented that a lot of “anti” people were concerned that people using the medicine might also get high. He made a very good point, that if people who were generally having a miserable life with pain and reduced mobility got the incidental effect of getting a bit more enjoyment in their lives, he couldn’t see any harm in that.

    2. Regarding psychoses and weed use.

      It’s been ( thankfully ) more than 1/½ year since I was last committed to hospital with severe psychosis. Up until that point over a period of 3 years I was committed in total 7 times.

      Weed was a component in triggering these events, but lack of fluid, food and sleep because of anxiety ( or sometimes extreme euphoria ) was the foundation of my condition.

      From day 1 after entering the medical-system I have experienced an overwhelming disproportionate focus on marijuana as the leading component from doctors regardless of my attempts to explain that it wasn’t weed that made me feel like shit and led me down this path. The condition was already there.

      I don’t know if I’ve been unlucky with doctors or if it’s a general sign of ignorance regarding the substance, but in my experience there’s a general tendency to underestimate the benficial effects.

      From lay people to professors.

      We need more research and researchers dedicated to maximising the potential good that can come of this plant, but first we need global legalization so the money will start rolling in.

      1. You are illustrating or pointing to an important area of research, not just for marijuana but for other drugs. This is the “self medication” hypothesis. There’s some evidence, for example, that this explains why (to some degree) schizophrenics are often nicotine addicts (i.e., big cigarette smokers). There’s some evidence that MJ is also a “big deal” for some because of (if I recall) mild anxiety “self medication” – but only in males. (I am only dimly remembering.)

        However, the details don’t matter – I believe the idea is worth exploring from what I have seen. Maybe there’s something else that will work well for some of these that doesn’t do the other stuff we don’t want. But unless we look …

        (This is *not* to say that THC is some wonder-cure, like some claim.)

        1. Fully concur. It is not a wonder drug and there are several potential not-so-pleasant side effects.

          The way it seems to work on me is as an intensifier of whatever mood I’m in before use. That means it is not something I use to instantly calm me down as such, but more as a way of allowing myself to drift off in my mind when already relaxed.

          If you’re in a shitty place, chances are that weed won’t do you any good and it wasn’t until I met the right psychiatrist who administered the right drugs things started to clear up for me.

          It is not well-researched medicine and use should be taken with caution.

          PS. Funny about the nicotine connection. During my episodes I smoked like a chimney going from aprox. 15 a day to something like 60. No doubt the relaxing effect from the cigarette was key.

            1. Depending on how much you consume over a given period of time no doubt part of the wanted effect can be relief from abstinence symptoms, but you still get a “kick” of relaxation ( provided it’s the right weed ) after long periods of not smoking.

              Iv’e tried opiates for pain relief and the side effect of feeling groovy is compareable to that of weed.

              It is my experience that physcial withdrawals after relatively short periods on opiates are much much worse than weed, but the psychological addiction of weed is potentially just as hard to resist, imo.

              If I could get the same relaxing effect from my conventional medicine without the side effects and potential withdrawals, I would not hesitate one second to stop smoking weed.

    3. There are 2 million adult Americans incarcerated right now. The war on drugs, to a lot of Americans, represents little more than the next step after Jim Crow in institutionalized racism. Prohibition of alcohol, a far more dangerous substance, is quite possibly the single greatest public policy folly in American political history. Vending machine related accidents reliably kill more people than Marijuana. Alcohol and tobacco are regulated and still cause a half a million deaths combined each year. If marijuana isn’t allowed to be sold on the retail market, then the trade will continue to be controlled by illegal drug trafficking organizations on the black market. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but personally I just don’t see how any objective analysis of the facts can lead anyone to conclude that marijuana should be ay more regulated than tobacco, which is the deadliest drug, in terms of overall body count, and you can legally buy it as a teenager.

    4. The reality of the the harm caused by the anti drug position is beyond question.
      That harm is nightmarish.
      For to compare a tiny few examples of possible harm to the brutish life destroying hell inflicted on thousands upon thousands of people is pathetic.
      It is you who hasn’t thought it through.

  9. I wish the Times graph had included caffeine. Just based on anecdotal personal experience, I’m guessing the “who got hooked” rate would be between 50-80%. In saying that, I’m counting ‘dependent’ to mean those who are addicted enough to get withdraw sympotms (i.e., headaches) when they stop daily usage.

    No, I’m not saying caffeine is bad for you. I’m saying its probably the most commonly used addictive substance in our culture.

    1. Yeah I’m all about the stimulants. If I had a way to easily get my hands on amphetamines when I was in school, I would’ve taken those (and probably died as I have a very fast pulse anyway). Caffeine studies seem to go all over the place too (like pot studies) so we never know how much is too much exactly or what the long term effects are. I also feel ashamed to admit the little caffeine (I feel ill when my heart beats too fast) I have (compared to most) when I go to any doctor because I feel the chastising coming on.

      1. I have had some bad bouts of a-fib, and so I have read up on that and on related conditions. If yours is tachycardia, there are a range of treatments. ‘Vagal maneuvers’ may alleviate problems caused by the vagus nerve, for example.

        1. I think, like my dad, I have a fast resting pulse. As a kid I would often hear my heart in my head with any exertion. I went to a new neurologist last week and the nurse took my resting pulse at 130 (but I was angry at a child who was screaming and throwing things and the parent that was talking loudly).

          I do get sudden quickening of the pulse but only if I have consumed too much coffee (which for me is more than one a day) and it goes away within 30 seconds. So, it probably isn’t for realz tachycardia.

          1. I assume you have looked up this stuff on Web MD, or somewhere (always a good idea if you want to increase your heart rate :/ )
            Assuming this is in the range of conditions that I have read up on, there are a range of possible treatments, up to a ‘simple’ surgical ablation procedure that can put a stop to it. I am a candidate for the latter, but I will not do it b/c I want to try controlling it with drugs first.

            1. I’ve talked to my doctor about it and he doesn’t appear concerned. He also is a bit of a jerk though. Last night I was actually worried I was having a heart attack as I got cold sweats, felt shaky then threw up. I think my stomach was just annoyed though but every time I get like that I worry because I’ve heard of several women dying that way.

              1. Diana,

                I work in the cardio/electro-physiology industry.

                I strongly recommend that you see a cardiologist and an electrophysiologist.

                You are getting signals from your body and they seem, if you are describing them accurately, like they may be non-benign.

                If your doctor is being an ass, is there a way around her/him? I strongly recommend action. Don’t wait for a cardiac arrest. Two things may result from getting checked out: Nothing is wrong (breathe a sigh of relief) or something is wrong and they can probably do something about it.

                Tachycardia is simply an elevated heart rate. Happens to me every day when I exercise. Spontaneous VT can be dangerous. A resting heart rate of 130 is really high.

                Have you had a stress test? That should tell you something about how your body reacts to exercise stress. Have you had a 12-lead EKG/ECG? You seem like a prime candidate for at least a baseline 12-lead.

                Please take care.

              2. Thanks – no I don’t ever want a stress test. I find it is awful and I would probably through up. I’m not sure what can be done as my doctor just says I tend to worry so that is really what is going on (I don’t tend to worry – he is projecting what he thinks how females are like as he mansplains to me).

                I’ll monitor things and press my doctor if necessary. I’ve been under crazy amounts of stress lately so that probably plays into it. I know that a cardiac arrest would be the end of me – women don’t often survive them as their hearts are smaller and I’m a smaller woman.

              3. As I understand — and I’m no doctor, let alone a cardiologist — there are two basic types of stress tests. If you’re not in very good condition, they’ll shoot you full of adrenaline…but if you’re healthy enough to walk into the clinic under your own strength, they’ll just put you on a treadmill or a stationary bike.

                If you’re not in good enough shape to spend some time on a treadmill, that should be your first priority; it’ll do wonders for your stress and everything else. But somehow I just don’t see you as the type who can barely move….

                And, honestly, the stress test ideally shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory. If you’ve got a good exercise regimen, you should already recognize what your heart feels like near your maximum heart rate and you should be okay with keeping it there for a few short bursts. (You don’t want to spend your whole exercise routine at that intensity, and probably not at every session, but it’s good to push yourself there every now and again.)

                Indeed, I just did so a short while ago…today was a lower-body workout, and the one-legged squats got me right at the point where I could feel a small hint of turbulence / a-fib / whatever, especially since the rest periods weren’t long enough for me to fully recover. And sweating…I literally couldn’t have been wetter had I just stepped out of the shower. It was enough for me to back off a bit on the Bulgarian split squats, but that was enough for me to recover enough to do all reps for the side lunges and hip extensions.


              4. When I was able to work out and not completely exhausted from migraines, commuting, and stress, I would exercise 4x a week on my treadmill for 30 minutes doing interval training. I monitored with a pulse tracking gizmo across your chest and connected to an app on my iPad. I never ran more than 5 minutes because I just can’t do it. I never have been able to. If they tried to push me like that I’d not be able to and would fall off the treadmill. I’ve never been an endurance runner. I used iCardio for my app and my average BPM was 150 and my peak was 176. I spent 60% in zone 4 and 20% in Zone 6.

              5. That’s just about perfect for frequency and timing…but the treadmill doesn’t do you any favors. It’ll actually tend to cause you to lose lean body mass — all those muscles that you’re not actually using for running, and even those leg muscles will tend to stabilize around the bare minimum needed for running. It also tends to be rather stressful on your whole body.

                Much better is varied high-intensity, low-repetition sets with plenty of rest. For an interval workout, you might use a three-minute interval, and attempt twelve repetitions of the hardest push-up variation you can do at least half a dozen reps of — and then rest the rest of the three minutes before doing it again. Three sets of four such exercises would take you your half an hour. Then, the next workout day, do something similar with legs, and then pulling another day, and so on. You’ll build strength in your entire body, and — most importantly — give yourself a chance to recover after each workout. If you work the same muscles three times a week, they’ll still be recovering…and it’s the recovery where you actually build lean body mass and burn fat and reduce cholesterol and all the rest of the good stuff. The exercising only serves to force your body into said recovery.

                Check out Mark Lauren‘s books, especially Body By You. It’s the same time commitment / schedule as you were on, and he lays out trivial-to-follow instructions to know what to do when. The first day you work through a progression of exercises in the same movement category to find where you’re currently at…say, with push-ups, you’d start doing them against a wall, then a table, then a chair, and so on. After that, look up in the chart which movement category you’re on for that day, and how many repetitions with what kind of interval, and you just do it. Once you can do so many repetitions of an exercise, you move on to the next harder one in that category…push-ups would go all the way to one-armed push-ups with your feet elevated on chairs with a two-second pause at the bottom, something even Arnold would have trouble with.

                Best thing? You don’t need any equipment more technologically sophisticated than a door or a towel, and you can do it wherever and whenever you like and don’t have to worry about going to the gym or where to store bulky equipment or any of that sort of stuff — and the exercises are more effective than the equipment. A bench press free weight barbell works your arms, sure…but push-ups also work your back and your abs and even your glutes. A leg machine will work your legs…but one-legged squats will work your legs, your core, and your balance.



              6. I agree with jbillie. Also, try out the Vagal maneuvers I mentioned above. They cannot hurt.
                — your armchair ‘Dr.’.

              7. I had a stress test a couple of months ago. I was fretting about it but it was mostly just a lot of waiting with my iPad. The stressful part wasn’t really stressful at all.

              8. They have non-treadmill stress tests now. I couldn’t do that kind because I was heading into hip surgery. It just involved an injection of quickly metabolized chemicals. And the waiting and scanning boredom.

              9. The “quickly-metabolized chemicals” would be adrenaline, or some variation thereon. Since caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands, the effect is, I’ve been told, not unlike a big coffee rush that dissipates pretty quickly. Probably not the most pleasant thing in the world, but probably infinitely better than colonoscopy prep.


            2. My son had SVT episodes at about 6 years old. During a bout his heart rate would go up to 250. When we first had it diagnosed I had to bully my way to the front of the queue at the ER and convince them that if they wanted to catch it while it was happening (had no idea what it was yet) they needed to see him now because it could pass at any moment.

              They saw him, listened to his heart, freaked out, brought in at least six people all busy working on him, freaked me out but not him, he though it was cool, eventually pushed a compound I can’t remember that stopped the SVT instantly at the risk of stopping his heart altogther, prescribed a drug, said he would likely need to take it the rest of his life and sent us on our way.

              I wasn’t happy with that from the get go. So we did some research. Trying to shorten this, we found a children’s hospital / MD where a new ablative technique had been developed. After some specialized examinations where they mapped the electrical activity of his heart they determined my son was a prime canidate for the procedure.

              Went to the hospital one morning, prepped him, performed the procedure, kept him overnight and then went home the next day. His problem was an extra growth of nervous tissue that was causing a short around the timing circuit of the heart that regulates the offset timing between upper & lower chambers, so that during an episode there was no offset. Hence the outrageously high heart beat that, by the way, an adult heart could not take for very long at all.

              They go in through two veins, target the problem nervous tissue very carefully. Cool it to a low enough temp that it goes dormant and observe for any ill effects. If no ill effects they vaporize it with a laser. This is done one tiny bit at a time.

              Very noninvasive, he was outside playing as usual two days after. No side effects, no drugs, fixed permanently, no maintenance of a chronic condition. Of course, this type of procedure only works for this one particular cause of tachycardia, extra nervous tissue.

              1. I’ll have to pass this on to a friend of my dad’s. He has the weirdest things set his off, including heavy bass from speakers.

              2. I’d hate to have to give up my music! Whatever it is, classical, blues, metal, it is almost always better at high volume rather than low. Ear buds don’t cut it. 200 watt, minimum, high end loud speakers, if you please.

                I wish your father’s friend the best in dealing with his SVT.

      2. Exercise helps with caffeine. Include high aerobic activity (10-30 minutes each day). You will find that caffeine turns into something that helps recovery as much as it helps make you awake. The exercise may not lower your resting heart rate, but it will make you feel better when you do drink it.

        1. I had a bad bout of a-fib last year because of hydrochlorothiazide. It is a powerful diuretic, and my General Practitioner prescribed it to lower my blood pressure. After being on it for a couple weeks, I noticed palpitations and rapid heart beat at times. Smoking pot exacerbated the problem. After being on it for 4 months or so, I went into a-fib. I went to the emergency room and they put me on a digitax IV and after 18 hours I went back into sinus rhythm. Man, a-fib SUCKS! I then got referred to a cardiologist. After a lot of tests, he said my heart was healthy, but my electrolytes were low so he took me off the hctz. I drink a few times a week too which also lowers electrolytes. Since being taken off the diuretic, palpitations are very rare, and no a-fib whatsoever. Yay for the specialists!

          Best wishes to those who have posted above with heart glitches.

          1. I also have taken HCTZ for a long time (same reason). Your regular Px should have taken a full blood panel on you early on to check your electrolytes (and some other stuff).

            Yeah, Afib is terrible. Good thing is tested out to be only your electrolytes — easy to correct! (Nothing structural, thanks goodness.)

          2. Yes, indeedy. A-fib sucks. I did not hear about the possible effect of hctz, which is another thing I take. Funny none of the people I see thought to mention it.

            1. Yeah, my cardiologist (who also has a-fib) said that any of his a-fib patients who are on hctz will be taken off of it. Perhaps your blood panels don’t show low electrolytes so your doctor(s) have kept you on it. A good question to ask regardless.

  10. I compelling agree that we should decriminalise drugs and especially pot. There is only a vision of puritanism that tells us that pleasure I’d bad and I completely disagree with that ideal.

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

  11. Two thumbs up.

    As for the negative consequences of smoking too much weed I very much prefer to get it out in the open and to get tons of more research on the matter. Both regarding its beneficial effects and its side effects.

    One of my problems ( can’t grow myself, I’m afraid ) is that I have no way of knowing what ( if anything ) is mixed into the hashish. Around here homegrown pot is harder to come by and frankly it doesn’t really jive with my conscience knowing that I potentially just financed guns and ammo or the like somewhere down the chain.

    Imagine for a second global prohibition of alcohol and the following new market ripe for the picking.

    I have anxiety and depressive issues from time to time and in addition to conventional medicine, weed ( depending on the quality ) can be a breath of much needed air in an otherwise cramped up mind.

    So hell yes brother, legalization and legalization fast.

    1. Legal pot sold in stores would be grown by vetted businesses. So there would be little worry about whether it was adulterated.

      1. My brother-in-law said he thought all those hookah shops that’ve sprung up across the country are just waiting for the day it’s legalized.

    2. I thought about this too – if governments regulated the production, it would be much better for people health wise because you don’t know what the heck is in that stuff. I heard a news program about ecstasy and how they cut it with rat poison!! So it can obviously be really damaging (except for Rasputin) but that the pure MDMA is much safer. Though, playing with your brain chemistry is a dicey game because everyone’s brain is different and you don’t want to end up with long term issues because of it.

      1. Very much agree.

        As a consumer it is a risky game at the present and prohibition is the main obstacle for further research, imo.

        From viewpoint of business there’s also a huge variety of uses for hemp.

        There’s lots of potential cash waiting to be harvested from legalization.

      2. MDMA is one of those thing I had really wanted to experience when I was in my early 30’s (before kid). But I was so afraid of “swiss cheese nuclear meltdown” brain that I always chickened out. Goddamn it. I always wondered how it would have felt to be on MDMA and swimming nekkid in a warm pool under the stars. Goddamn it.

        1. From the radio show I was listening to, MDMA in its pure form (not from the street) is ok though I don’t like the notion of messing with your brain like that – you can’t be certain how you’re wired up and you don’t want to mess things up permanently.

    3. A local high school girl in my area died recently from a heroin overdose. She took it unintentionally because the weed she obtained was laced with heroin. Heroin has become cheaper than pot, and thus the risk occurrences like this will continue is going to increase.

      I don’t agree with Jerry that we should fully legalize heroin, as I’ve seen its ability to utterly destroy lives. I am in full support of decriminalization though and providing rehab rather than jail time and a criminal record.

      1. Well, I could be persuaded so long as it was decriminalized and users were given a chance to transition to methadone or no drugs, and given clean needles.

        But look at the illegal trade. Heroin users who are given clean maintenance doses officially would not, I think, destroy lives. The destruction comes from bad drugs, the life of theft one needs to support the habit, dirty needles, and the illegality.

        1. I agree – I thought this was interesting:
          “As my Reason colleague Jacob Sullum has documented, such take-it-or-leave-it findings are common in drug research. In his 2004 book Saying Yes and other places, he’s detailed work in which researchers find a surprising range among heroin users, including a study that concluded, “It seems possible for young people from a number of different backgrounds, family patterns and educational abilities to use heroin occasionally without becoming addicted.”

      2. That is my nightmare scenario. I’v never tried anything other than weed and alcohol, but the possibility that there’s some fucked up substance mixed in there is a nagging feeling that’s always in the back of my head.

        I proceed with caution based on previous experiences.

        1. Which is even more reason to legalise weed. The likelihood that you get an adulterated sample surely will drop to about nil if you can just buy it from your local corner shop, properly packaged and sealed.

          Ironically, much like tobacco is now ……

    4. JBP, you have such a reasoned, balanced view on topics and you write in such a clear and friendly style that I am very surprised you’ve had the problems you describe. Anyway, best of luck.

      1. My thoughts as well. Your comments are invariably kind, thoughtful, smart and tolerant even when provoked.

        That last one I especially admire. It is a problem I have that I try to keep in check.

        1. Thanks, darrelle.

          I’d be lying if said weed doesn’t sometimes help one that last one. 😉

    5. My step-father was, in my opinion, of the very small minority of persons actually addicted to weed. However, I suspect his underlying psychological issues had a large influence in this. When he would run out and was too broke to buy more (and he only wanted the best the 70’s had to offer!)he could go into rages that lasted for days and nights on end. He would be restless and nothing could make him happy until he got more weed. I don’t think it even got him high except for on rare occasions, but I believe it helped him stay on an “even keel” and kept his aforementioned psychological challenges partly at bay.
      We have yet so much to learn, as you said. If there is positive psychological benefits for those who suffer from a myriad of mental health problems, it’s truly saddening that we are so behind the 8 ball.

      1. That is one of the potential side effects if you reach the stage where physical withdrawals are pre-dominant. If you add the psychological addiction and an already existing condition to the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster.

        The “even keel” sounds about right. Depending on my consumption it isn’t unusual that I don’t get high as such. It just creates a mellow base.

  12. Oy! I doubt any article that includes anecdotal evidence (persons who used the drug, personal observation et cetera).

    Moreover, this is an US thing. Allowing it there will drag in other nations. That is a moral problem.

    As long as tobacco smoking is restricted and keep getting more restricted, for good reasons, I don’t think allowing similar drugs that allow second hand damage (second hand smoking effects) or can work as a gateway or else confuse is a good idea. If anyone can make it in pill form, sure.

    Indeed, marijuana, unlike alcohol and tobacco, has positive health effects, and its medicinal uses are sanctioned in several states.

    I think the consensus is still out on alcohol. E.g. epidemic studies shows benefits at moderate use, while one late study that coupled to an allele that permitted a clearer dose-response observation concludes that it is harmful. But that is _one_ study, presumably needs a repeat.

    It is a mistake to couple medicinal effects to health effects. If anything, what has direct therapeutic use has potency, so potentially harmful side effects. I don’t see any evidence for “health effects” here.

    1. The Times article didn’t use anecdotal observations, I did by way of introducing the Times’s reports.

      Please give me a break. Are you saying that alcohol use saves more lives (through medicinal use) than it damages? The reason we tolerate alcohol is not because of its health benefits (we’d tolerate it even if it had no health benefits, and I suspect you would, too), but because it’s pleasurable, and the benefits of that pleasure outweigh its detriments. Likewise, we could ban private cars (we could simply have public transportation) but that would be onerous, so we tolerate traffic deaths.

      Please don’t tell me that if alcohol had no beneficial health effects (which are marginal at best, and always contested), that you’d favor its prohibition.

      It’s no more a moral problem than is alcohol use, and your saying that it will drag in other nations is unsubstantiated. Has Switzerland “dragged in other nations” to heroin legalization? (I wish it had.)

      As for second-hand damage from pot smoke, if there is little evidence of “first hand damage” (as the Times article notes), that is, pot smokers themselves experiencing lung problems, what evidence is there for second-hand damage?

    2. So you worry about 2nd hand smoking, but not the 2nd hand damage caused to society by illegalising drugs which creates and supports criminal networks all over the world, from small villages to the big cities.

      Drugs are bad for individuals, and we as society should help them in any way we can, but illegalising the drugs, will only create a bad for the whole of society.

    3. It doesn’t have to be smoked, it can be vaporized, or eaten when baked into foods. So, in effect, it’s already available in “pill” form.

  13. I agree, generally, with a few caveats (below). I will be retiring to Washington state, where recreational use is already legal.

    My caveats:

    I think 21 is sensible as an age limit (for brain development reasons and judgment reasons. 18-year olds are not well known for the judgment) It also matches the drinking age in most states (all?)

    Careful control is needed. CO is already experiencing some major health issues with edible forms (severe overdoses, including quite a few young children). Labeling is needed, at least for edibles and would be best for all forms. WA has this (labeling requirements) AFAIK. I just listened this week to Gov. Hickenlooper at the Aspen Idea Fest. talking about it. There are some major public health issues. A free for all is not the way to go.

    We need reliable ways of keeping baked people off the roads. I have a very low opinion of the driving abilities of the majority of USians, and when they are drunk or baked? Forget it. We need tests for THC.

    I used it from the age of about 13 or 14 (I forget exactly when, they say drinking lots of wine causes, er, causes …. er, can’t remember 🙂 ) and I really do think that was too young. I was busted with a group of my friends and then stopped until I was 18 or 19, which was somewhat better; but I think 21 is fine. The drinking age at the time was 18 and I don’t think that was a very good idea (I liked it at the time; but felt reservations even at the time, observing 18-year-olds drunk.)

    1. Another mild concern is the strength of “modern” pot. It’s at least 10X the strength of the stuff I got when I was a teen. And priced accordingly it seems.

      Labeling can solve this issue however. Test, it, label it truthfully, place the tax stamp and let the tax revenues roll in and the good times roll.

      1. It would be interesting to see what the market would prefer in terms of strength. Now I think the demand is skewed toward potency by being illicit. During prohibition, moonshine was the thing, but now the most consumed alcoholic beverages are the weakest, beer and wine. If I were using mj, I would probably prefer some that didn’t incapacitate me with one hit.

  14. I consider myself an expert on cannabis use 🙂 and agree with everything above, but as we see in the case of other science “issues” (climate change, evolution, etc.), there are so many on the right who don’t listen to (or “believe in”) facts and just create their own facts when they don’t like what the science says. We are getting there, though. Money talks, and when they see all that money to be made, I think they will change their tunes.

    1. Money talks, and when they see all that money to be made, I think they will change their tunes.

      It seems to me that the tobacco industry would be best placed to take advantage of a change in the law. That being the case, and given that their market is currently dwindling, at least here in the UK, they would be the logical group to lobby for a change in the law. However, it could be that their past dishonesty about the effects of tobacco would work against them now.

      1. I was a clerk in the (Australian) Patents, Trade Marks and Designs Office for a year in the mid-1980’s, and saw the brand names, logos and pack designs for green cigarettes that the tobacco companies had already registered (probably by the mid ’70s). They were poised and ready to roll them out the minute prohibition would be lifted, and I’m sure that was the case worldwide.

  15. I completely agree. The drug war has been almost a complete farce. Incarceration of small time drug dealers and users has been a drain on society and a crime against basic freedoms. Legalization will help funding things like primary education, desperately underfunded in most states due to Republican legislatures across the land. Also Hemp legalization (I know not Marijuana – for those too stupid not to know the difference) would be great too, since it a very inexpensive and useful fiber for many things.

  16. 1. Doesn’t recent research say that pot may damage neurons?
    2. If we say that pot is not as bad as alcohol or cigarettes, that is an argument to ban those two, not to legalize pot (away of medical use)

    1. 1. Doesn’t recent research say that pot may damage neurons?

      Doesn’t recent (1930s to present) research show that oxygen damages neurons? And any other organ you wish to expose to oxygen?

      2. […] that is an argument to ban [oxygen], not to legalize pot (away of medical use)

      It’s an argument to encourage people to be careful about using chemicals. From oxygen, through pot, ethyl alcohol and nicotine, and out to Warfarin (rat poison and blood viscosity modifier), petroleum (fuel, people-incinerator and kidney-destroying concoction) and Thalidomide (anti-nausea drug with a bad history against morning sickness, and a better, but still worrying, history against leprosy). All sorts of chemicals.
      Just a reminder : if you lived life without coming into contact with chemicals, it would be rather short – a few minutes – as your tears boiled into the vacuum, then your lungs ruptured and your blood started to boil too.

  17. For a very long time I was one of those turncoat adults that was against legalization of marijuana. I will not get into the reasons here b/c they are moot. I had since been turned around as it became clear to me that the societal costs for its illegality far outweighed the costs of legalizing it. That is really the reason for legalizing it — the cost of trying to enforce the laws and punish the users and growers. Not to mention the devastating costs to those individuals who are caught.

    That said, I do predict that once it is more carefully studied it will be found that regular use will cause lung cancer. I mean, c’mon, one inhales thick and resinous smoke with bits of ash and unburnt trichome plant hairs deep into the lungs. That cannot be good over time!

    1. I agree on the lung issues. If the use is high enough it seems a given that lung damage will result. But, most pot smokers don’t smoke anything like the amount of cigs that most people smoke. You would be rendered comatose before you could possibly smoke as much weed as most people do cigs.

      Full disclosure. I don’t smoke anything. Never smoked pot or cigs. Have puffed the odd cigar on very rare occasion, and could not imagine inhaling that shit.

    2. I agree. My daughter studies at WSU and I have advised her to avoid smoking pot and go with the edibles. I also encourage her to be responsible with her use.

      1. I would encourage other forms of ingestion, e.g., brownies and such. Lungs can be a tricky thing, especially if kids (14-20) start using habitually, there are very likely observable consequences to one’s future pulmonary capabilities forty-fifty years down the road.

        1. Vaporizing is much better for the lungs. I don’t like it because it’s just too powerful for me. If I smoke, I only take a hit or two, but I use a water bong which is not as “good” as a vaporizer, but better than joints or pipes. Ingesting obviously won’t harm the lungs, but THC is metabolized differently when ingested and can cause hallucinations, very long trips and paranoia…even with daily users. I never eat it because I’ve had a couple bad experiences doing so.

          1. Vaporization is likely a successful solution. Regulation and privatization can provide beneficial solutions for such technologies to be advanced and be promoted for safe use.

            1. Very true. I also think there needs to be better education esp. regarding edibles. Just putting it on the market for anyone over 21 to purchase and partake seems a little careless imo. Though I am grateful I live in Washington and it’s legal!

  18. consume an entire one-pound box of brown sugar with a spoon.

    Oh gross! Imagine throwing that up, which you think would be a high possibility given your stomach would hate it!

    Also, there are various ages for the consumption of alcohol in Canada as the province decides. There are some provinces that allow alcohol consumption at 18. See here. In most provinces, you cannot purchase alcohol in regular stores (except in Quebec where you can even have beer at the Canadian Museum of Civilization). I actually like this rule because I used to work in a corner store as a teen and in the early morning shift, you had people still drunk from the night before wandering in and many were seedy and I felt very threatened by them. If there were alcohol available, I suspect things would be even worse.

    1. When I swam in high school I used to come home and put a gallon of ice cream in the microwave and drink it. Yum. Just the thought causes my heart to attempt cardiac arrest.

    2. Diana,

      In Germany, sale of alcohol is very ubiquitous, most regular stores do, and all but some deli&fast food restaurants do so as well. However, several states have restricted the hours in which alcoholic beverages can be purchased in stores, for reasons similar to what you state. That might or might not have been a solution to your problem.

      1. It may solve the problem unless drunk people decide to harass someone to sell or give it to them anyway. Also, I think Canadians can’t hold their liquor as well as Germans, probably because of regulation, who knows. Many young people tend to overdo it consistently.

  19. This is, and always has been a non-issue for me; I just don’t care what people do unless it interferes with me or a minor. As far as I’m concerned, sit at home, smoke whatever, watch some horrible Seth Rogan films, and eat your Cheeto’s, but I don’t want to have to smell it (pot or the Cheeto’s). Make some brownies (as I believe Clinton did, according to Hitch’s autobiography; the answer to why he didn’t “inhale”) ganja goo-balls,or whatever, but just as we have regulations for where a person can smoke cigarettes and what they can do it they drink alcohol, we need regulations for smoking pot in public or in public housing and apartments, and especially around kids (and smoking regulations around kids need to be increased).

    that’s my 2 cents. You should be free to do what you want and I should be free not to smell it, and of course we should all be free from the drug cartel violence that our “drug wars” have created.

    1. Yes, can we please ban cars? Forcing people to work will counteract our obesity epidemic, no cars means less CO2 and particulates which helps our fight against Global Climate Change, as well as affecting a shift in power in the oil-rich Middle East, and think of all the possible land freed up for housing, parks, farmland, etc. if we tear up all those damn miles and miles of highways, plus the elimination of untold millions of animal roadkills in addition to the elimination of human traffic deaths. Prof, I think you’re onto something here. legalize pot and ban the automobile!

      1. “legalize pot and ban the automobile!”

        At least with that combination, we wouldn’t have to worry about DUIs…

        1. On FOX News tonight.

          “The Walking Stoners”: How Atheist Jay-walking addicts are destroying America step by step.

  20. Noam Chomsky said that marijuana was made illegal by politicians bought by the tobacco industry. Anyone can grow weed, but tobacco is a crop that needs to be cultivated. Also, hemp can be used for a number of beneficial products. Legalize it.

  21. I fully agree, despite never having used it. (I can’t stand inhaling smoke or any noxious gas.) Though apparently not everyone at The New York Times is on board, since the company still drug tests its workers and fires anyone who’s used it recently enough to get a positive result. Hopefully that’ll change, but I expect the War on Terror to be over before the War on Drugs. :-/

    1. People should know that it’s not actually legal anywhere in the US. Federal law still prevails regardless of what Washington and Colorado do. (Unfortunately, the 10th Amendment has never gotten much respect.) But I guess a simple user is unlikely to get the attention of federal law enforcement unless they happen by to get stopped at an ICE checkpoint or something. And some civil disobedience seems like a good thing here…

      1. I believe the Obama administration has issued an executive order not to prosecute marijuana users under federal law in states where it’s been legalized. Getting such an assurance from the Feds was a requirement for going forward with implementation of the Washington state law.

        What might happen under a Republican president is a good question, but by then the precedent will be well established and (hopefully) difficult to reverse.

        But I’m not a lawyer, so who knows.

    2. Yes, you can always come visit Colorado – just don’t try to take any weed home with you! 🙂 My perception is that thus far, the biggest impact on the state is a significant increase in tax revenue. One big problem that is being addressed is fact that banks, being federally regulated, cannot accept any money from the growers or sellers – thus it is an all cash business at the moment. Ah, our government at work…..

          1. Yeah, for now, it’s basically a cash-only business. Want to ensure corruption in an industry? Force it to be cash-only.

            The gummint needs to let the growers and sellers form their own credit unions under federal law.

          2. Will it sooner or later happen that (someone claim) banks be reasonably and legitimately guilty of legal bias if they so refuse?

  22. While I favor legalization, the road ahead to decriminalize the other schedule 1 drugs (and marijuana is one of those! Incredible) is going to be politically difficult. What can be done is to at least reduce the mandatory sentences for crack cocaine to that of cocaine powder. That alone would have a very positive effect on the size of our bloated prison population. Right now, the penalty ratio of crack to powder cocaine is 18:1, and it should be 1:1.

  23. I have no desire to partake, but I wholeheartedly endorse full decriminalization. What you put in your body is your own business. The government only has three legitimate roles that I can see: enforcing reckless endangerment laws (drunk driving, practicing medicine whilst stoned, etc.); requiring truth in advertising and labeling; and making sure that minors and others with impaired judgement don’t cause themselves irreparable harm.

    Oh — and drugs make for great tax revenues. Make it legal to sell crack or heroin or whatever, but get the FDA to regulate labeling and ATF to enforce tax stamps. But if somebody really wants whatever that drug is, and if what’s in the container is what’s on the label, and if Uncle Sam gets his cut, it ain’t nobody’s business but the user’s.

    Besides, which would you rather have: addicts committing petty crimes to pay for overpriced drugs laced with contaminants and extenders, or addicts able to buy their drugs at the corner store next to the beer and cigarettes? And remember that they’re going to get their fix whether you want them to or not, whether it’s legal or not; the only question is how they’re going to get it.


    1. Hickenloopper noted that revenue from pot in just the first few months. It was huge.

      He also noted that, generally speaking, the same people who were using pot before are using it now; except it’s legal now.

      Win for law and order, as far as I can see.

    2. I was skimming through the comments before writing up my own, to make sure I wasn’t repeating anybody, and your comment makes all the points I’d planned on making. Adults should be allowed to participate in any risky behavior they want to, so long as they’re not endangering others, and so long as nobody is misleading them about the risk.

      1. “Adults should be allowed to participate in any risky behavior they want to, so long as they’re not endangering others, and so long as nobody is misleading them about the risk”

        And, as long as they don’t expect society to pick up the pieces.

        The example that leaps to mind is not wearing a helmet while motorcycling. Yeah, great, wind in the hair, pretending you’re still 20 and playing in a garage rock band.

        But don’t expect the rest of society to pay the huge costs of that head injury incurred while not wearing that helmet. When you had a simple, inexpensive and effective way at hand to prevent it. That doesn’t depend on your genes or your lifestyle.

        1. What’s your view on activities like BASE jumping? Should it be outlawed because it’s too risky?

          1. Well, I used to do high-angle rock climbing and ice climbing in the mountains of the US west. I also used to climb mountains and then ski down them in winter. And I used to white water kayak to Cl IV and surf kayak on the west coast (US). I also did challenging sea kayaking, including running huge tidal rapids, paddling into big whirlpools, surf, etc.

            So, I am not opposed to dangerous sports. (I would never participate in sky-diving, period, short of a tandem jump with a highly trained primary jumper. But that’s just me.)


            When I climbed, I wore a helmet wherever a fall or falling rock/ice was possible. I used ropes and protection and I was trained in how to use them properly. I also carried sufficient clothing, equipment, food, water, etc., first aid gear, etc. I was trained in avalanche prediction and safety. I watched the weather very carefully. I was hit on the helmet by rockfall many times. I had leader falls. I turned back many times only to have the slope above avalanche (or lightning strike the peak above) shortly after retreating.

            Same thing when kayaking — I wore a helmet, PFD, and a wet/dry suit, carried rescue gear, first aid gear, always boated with a partner or team, maintained my equipment, and I was well trained. I had a bomb-proof Eskimo roll.

            So, I think it’s simply foolish to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.

            Your point was categorical: Any risky activity they want to. I’m saying unlimited doesn’t work. Driving without seat belts fastened is just plain stupid; and we have laws against it for good reason.

            I guess I’d put incurring large and unnecessary medical costs on family and society in the ledger of endangering others (taxpayers and premium payers, spouses, children).

            So, yeah, base jump; but get trained, use your brains, wear a helmet, maintain your gear well.

            Most venues in the US now will go after you for the costs of rescue (part of this is due to the ubiquity of cell phones, which often induce people to bail and ask for a rescue, where in my day, we had no choice but to carry on, in spite of bloody feet, etc. This may help people think harder about what they plan to do and how a rescue situation can be avoided.

            I also see the danger in all arguments like this. Should society bear the costs of health care for people who will not exercise? (We do now.) How about cigarette smokers? (We often charge smokers higher premiums for health care coverage.) What about health issues that are mainly driven by genetic factors? It’s not easy to answer these questions.

        2. My wife worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and the emergency room staff had a technical/medical term to describe motorcyclists – organ donors. So you see, even this behaviour can have a net positive benefit.

          Here’s the thing, you can pick pretty much any human activity and some segment of the population will consider it to be illegal, immoral, needlessly risky and/or just plain stupid.

          I’d say that once you amortize all human behaviours over the large population of a secular democracy that actually cares about the well being of the individual members then you can pretty much stop focusing on individual behaviours and start concentrating on what it takes to increase the overall well being of the entire society.

          1. My wife worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and the emergency room staff had a technical/medical term to describe motorcyclists – organ donors.

            I’ve heard a variation on that theme from more than one person in the emergency medical services field call. They call the vehicles, “donorcycles.” Especially the high-powered “crotch rocket” models favored by young men.

            And they generally do make absolutely wonderful donor materials — aside from the specific bits injured, the rest of the body is typically healthy and young and disease-free, exactly what you want in a donor.


          2. This is why, in the biomedical ethics course I took back in the day, we concluded that you couldn’t refuse to treat people with heart conditions who smoked because you could argue that driving on the highway was also risky behaviour so by extension you would have to refuse treatment for people who drove on the highway.

          3. Over thirty years ago, one of my sisters-in-law’s brothers-in-law who is a nephrologist and surgeon said that when the weather is beautiful and sunny, he and his colleagues would remark that “this is a good day for kidneys”, in reference to the reckless driving of motorcyclists (whether they wore helmets or not as many are killed in accidents even if they were wearing one).

    3. Re-mentioning as others did before, research would be a huge boon. With legalization/regulation there could be a lot of useful research possibly not only of THC but other schedule one drugs.

      1. There’s also a lot to be said for industrial hemp production. Makes good paper and rope. I seem to recall some other uses, but those alone are sufficient.


  24. My mother noted a misleading article in the local paper here. The headline was about the increase in homelessness in Colorado post-legalization. The article body, however, noted the problem was that folks would move to Colorado because they hoped to get a job in the pot selling industry, and when they didn’t, they were stuck. She noted that her co-workers would probably use that as Drugs Are Bad, while she thought the main problem was that 48 states didn’t have legal recreational pot.

    (I do think that if drugs are legal, one should encourage more rehab programs for those who do end up as addicts, like we have for alcohol. Heck, or even the stop-smoking programs we have for tobacco. I imagine anything that gives you a high could be psychologically addictive and a few folks can run into problems. But I think making sure their problems aren’t legal as well as social helps them actually get help.)

  25. My only concern is what becomes of the criminal organizations that are trafficking drugs. Surely they aren’t going to give up on billion dollar businesses. It may be because of our drug policy that these gangs exist, but that doesn’t mean that we get to ignore them or that they’ll simply go away if we legalize drugs. Legalizing marijuana would be akin to the end of prohibition. Legalizing alcohol didn’t turn Capone et al into legitimate businessman. I’m all for the legalization of some drugs, but I’d like to see the plan for dealing with drug trafficers who’ve suddenly lost a billion dollar business.

    1. Surely they aren’t going to give up on billion dollar businesses.

      You’re right. And you wouldn’t believe the levels of corruption involved. Police departments profit immensely, too; they get to keep what they seize in drug raids. So you’ve got vast amounts of legalized bribery in the form of campaign contributions flowing to the politicians who’re all too eager to take a “tough on crime” stance by making it both more profitable for the cops and the dealers.

      Believe me, it’d be much easier to do to the leaders of the drug cartels than what we did to bin Laden. But is there any interest in actually doing anything like that? Fuck no!


      1. Unfortunately I do believe the level of corruption involved, that’s what scares me. It’s not drug use, it’s the reaction of the people who will lose money, whether from growing crops, digging tunnels, collecting bribes, selling guns, the chain of people involved is extensive. There are a lot of people who don’t take the loss of money well, and many of them resort to violence when the well goes dry.

        1. We can can thank several decades of prohibition for entrenched corruption. Many people think the war on marijuana began with Nixon. Not true. As I say in my book, this war began two years before Hitler invaded Poland.

          What’s needed is a transference of economic power from the law-enforcement/prison-industry complex and the underground economy that recently rescued the global financial system (so says UN drug czar Antonio Maria Costa) to legitimate businesses that can make and sell all sorts of stuff. There’s no question that cannabis is the most versatile plant in the world: you can eat it, make clothing, plastic, and wood from it — and you can enjoy a pleasant and thought-spurring buzz from it (see Carl Sagan on this latter point).

          It’s funny how prohibitionists like to say that legalization will lead to more places for kids to buy pot. But these places already exist: they’re called high schools.

      1. Thanks, Jerry! Ben, the links for the interview and my book are embedded in the highlighted words above.

        By the way, I’m pleased to see that a blogger at our nation’s Pravda, otherwise known as The Washington Post, has a great post this morning:

        Now, if the Post FORMALLY comes out for legalization, we’ll see some real momentum on this.

  26. The drinking age in Canada is actually 18 in half the country, 19 in the other half. It alternates by province 🙂

  27. Thank you, Jerry, for an excellent post and for having the courage to post it. I’m glad that the fear of pot, like the fear of homosexuals, is quickly dissolving across much of mainstream America. Existing as a human requires the occasional mental holiday, and responsible adult use of any substance for this purpose, as long as it does not harm others, should not be a crime. The time to legalize is now, before America becomes a theocracy and all hope is lost.

  28. Puritan attitudes and AA have a lot to answer for the North American mindset regarding drugs. I’ve never personally been a fan of marijuana, but in my twenties I very much enjoyed mdma. You take it at a club with friends, have an amazing time, go home in a taxi- and all is well.
    My mind was clear and I was actually much more in control of myself than with alcohol.

  29. I’m one of those uncommon children of the 60’s who never used marijuana, but I really, really want it legalized.

    Why? I’m a botanist. I want the illegal grows out of the woods. I want an end to terracing slopes and dewatering headwater streams in the RNAs (Research Natural Areas) and ACECs (Areas of Critical Environmental Concern) that growers tend to target, thinking people are unlikely to go there. I want not to have to plan longer drives to research sites because of the growers along the shorter road. And I want not to have bullets whistling by me, as some colleagues have as growers warn them away.

    Legal commercial farmers can put these illegal growers out of business more effectively than law enforcement ever can.

      1. Yes. In Wash. state and northern California the remote areas and even the park woodlands are dotted with marijuana plots that are guarded by people with guns. They divert streams, leave trash, and generally they are assholes.

        1. Yes, and this always worried me (at least a little) as I hiked and climbed in the Cascades. Many people I know had come across operations. I saw a couple myself.

          Most of the growops in the Pac NW were in basements, under big, electricity hogging lights.

          I have a friend now who has a 1000-Watt artificial sun on an automatic moving gantry in his basement. It’s cool! … er hot! Put your arm under it and it feels just like the sun on a clear day.

  30. This past weekend my sister, a veterinarian in an emergency vet clinic, talked about “marijuana dogs,” dogs that ate someone’s stash. She says they’re very easy to diagnose by a combination of their behavior and the owner’s admission that the dog had access to marijuana, which some owners are reluctant to admit. (If they don’t, she has to run a couple hundred dollars of tests to rule out unlikely but potentially serious explanations for the unusual behavior.) The talk was mainly about interactions with the owners, including one in which a business man said, “A couple of kids are going to have to do some serious explaining about what happened while we were gone!”

    I asked what my sister does for the effected dogs. “Send them home to sleep them off. Marijuana’s not very lethal. Or in extreme cases put them on IV fluids and have them sleep it off in the clinic.”

      1. All my cats over the decades loved to “second hand smoke” when I was smoking it, even more so when we were several friends indulging. They would come up very close to us, often settling on our laps and inhaling with eyes half-closed. 🙂

  31. The number one reason for legalising drugs?

    Woodstock, 1969.

    (sadly I was born a few years too late, and on the wrong continent – but the music of that era remains some of the best ever produced, and in the words of Bill Hicks, most of the musicians were “rrreal f***ing high on drugs”)

  32. “the Times is taking the lead on this.”

    They’re following, rather than leading. The momentum has started to build, so they’re just catching the wave. It’s good that it’s happening and it probably wouldn’t have helped if they had advocated such a position when the environment wasn’t ready for it.

  33. Peter Tosh was right. Keep in mind, legalizing MJ doesn’t mean it’s tacitly encouraged. This distinction is worth having to counter the “well, it’s legal and natural” fallacy for consumption in environments that may result in detrimental social ramifications (e.g., workplace). Overall, the decriminalization and regulation of cannabis will reverse an unwarranted social/legal stigma while allowing the individual to customize a recreationally accountable balance for lifestyle indulgences.

  34. A Coloradan’s opinion: the only justifiable downside I’ve heard is the possible increase in underage use. It is pretty well established that pot affects brain development negatively, through about age 21. In the months since state-level legalization there have been claims here in Colorado both of increased youth use and unchanged youth use. Neither side’s data are yet convincing. Perhaps time will tell. If it turns out that there is significantly increased youth use, then that’s a big downside to legalization, though perhaps not enough to justify criminalization, with all of its downsides.

    1. This is a downside, and some people do get essentially addicted to pot. I say this based on anecdotal experience growing up. But I think these downsides are outweighed by the ginormous personal, governmental, and general societal cost of having it be illegal.

      1. I agree Mark, on both points. I saw it happen to young kids and it seemed (anecdotally only) that the younger they started, the more trouble they got into.

  35. The reason marijuana has not been legalized in the U.S. is because its criminalization removes millions of Democrats from the rolls of eligible voters.

    Yeah, millions. We have well more than 2,000,000 prisoners in the U.S., and half of them are there on drug charges and marijuana is the lion’s share of that number.

    Most of these prisoners are people of color, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. And almost all of them will never get their voting privileges restored after they get out.

    Removing Democrats from voting rolls is probably as effect as gerrymandering for the Republican party.

  36. “(I once watched one of my stoned friends, now a famous biologist who will remain unnamed, consume an entire one-pound box of brown sugar with a spoon.)”

    That cinches it – ban spoons now!

  37. “As a side note, I’d argue that we should legalize every drug that doesn’t cause its user to hurt other people, and that is most drugs.”

    This reminds me of an episode of the Young Ones. Vivian (a medical student) invents a drug that turns a normal person into an axe-wielding maniac; reasoning that given that the number of axe-wielding maniacs is so small, the potential market is enormous.

    1. LOL. Got link? 🙂

      *The Young Ones used to be one of my great pleasures. It’s been too damn long….

  38. Having read many articles today and comments above I am convinced that most if not all drugs should be legalized and regulated. This is insane what our society is doing to itself now.

    It would be nice to take the step now to start working on this issue. Just do it. Take the step to legalization. Complex problems will result, but these can be worked on. There need only be a commitment of a handful of person to do research on the effects of drugs in society and we should dedicate those people to understanding what are the paths that make legalization work.

    We do not need all of the answers today. That’s impossible. But we need to start now, because legalization is inevitable. Only those who are impotent to look at the facts are willing to stand against it.

  39. Just by way of perspective: in 1960, I and 12 other students were summarily kicked out of the University of Chicago for smoking marijuana. No recourse, no appeal, no questions asked – boom! At least they didn’t turn us over to the cops.

  40. Clinton probably wasn’t lying when be said he ‘didn’t inhale.’ He ingested it instead. I think Hitchens said that.
    I agree with most of what you said–marijuana and psychedelics for sure should be legal–but definitely not on meth, even though you are on the fence on that. That shit is worse than poison. I’ve seen acquaintances turn into ghosts. The ‘not even once’ campaign started here in Montana and I am behind it 100%.

        1. Must be why I’m incredibly turned off by said beers.

          Well, that, and the fact that I’ve known horses who’d be ashamed to piss that stuff….


          1. Check out this Russian commercial David Duchovny did for a Russian beer. Seems the nationalistic themes are universal if you compare it with this Joe Canadian beer commercial (the first one is funny because it mentions black squirrels, the second one is meta funny because Joe basically calls himself Canadian by distinguishing himself from Americans, which is very Canadian).

            The meta funny is Duchovny is part Ukrainian, not Russian.

            1. Not quite that simple…

              Duchovny was born in New York City, New York in 1960.[2] He is the son of Margaret “Meg” (née Miller), a school administrator and teacher, and Amram “Ami” Ducovny (1927–2003),[3] a writer and publicist who worked for the American Jewish Committee.[4][5][6] His father was Jewish, from a family that immigrated from Kiev[7] (now in Ukraine) and Poland.[8][9] His mother is a Lutheran emigrant from Aberdeen, Scotland.[10][11][12] His father dropped the h in his last name to avoid the sort of mispronunciations he encountered while serving in the Army.[4][13][14]


  41. I tried it a few times here and there in my 20’s…I certainly wasn’t afraid of it, I just had no interest. Additionally I just never liked the idea of smoking anything.

    Fast forward to my 40’s and I am a chronic pain patient(severe abdominal nerve damage from botched c-section and subsequent botched hernia repair to fix damage from said c-section) with a monthly rx of Norco. Recently I did try pot in various forms to see if that would help the Norco work better – I am not wanting to go to anything stronger opiate-wise, but I am going through my Rx faster than I care to admit here.
    Well, my doctor tells me a couple weeks ago that I will need to do a drug screen soon. First they want to make sure the narcotic is actually in your system (that you aren’t selling it) and to make sure you aren’t using illegal drugs.

    If they discover the small amount of pot in my system, my Norco will be stopped and I will not be able to get another opiate(legally). There does not seem to be any negative side effects from mixing pot and opiates at reasonable doses for a relatively healthy adult (those with breathing problems could be a concern). Certainly FAR less deadly than opiates and booze…but they won’t test you for that (They SHOULD in theory if they were truly concerned about dangerous drug interactons). I do not use heroin, meth, coke, crack, etc. This test will cost me $600 that I can’t afford.

    For what it’s worth, I did not actually find the pot to help at all and would probably not try it again for a long time..but nerve pain is just kinda wacky like that. My quality of life will be extremely poor if I do not have access to an opiate for pain relief…every step, bend, twist, cough, sneeze feels like I’m being stabbed with a hot electrical razor blade while a steel glove is twisting and squeezing the muscles. I won’t be able to play with my son the way he wants or get the exercise I am finally accomplishing. All because of some stupid motherfucking illogical law that has and has never had a place in society.

    I 100% agree with Jerry that adults should be able to use whatever drug they want as long as they aren’t prone to harming others while under the influence (I agree with the meth stance as well…it does pose a threat to others as well as the grave harm it does the user.)

    Sorry for my rant…I have already been stressing over this and the timing gave me a chance to vent.

    1. Oh, and even though I am in CA where you can get a medical card, certain HMO’s won’t recognize it as they can pull the “it’s Federally illegal” stance plus they don’t want outside Docs prescribing anything to “their” patients.
      What makes me even madder when I think about it, is that pot DOES seem to help many others with their pain and makes their opiates more effective. What are the options for those people? Either lose their rx or get prescribed increasingly stronger opiates until they are strung out on Oxy and Fentanyl? It’s truly fucking ridiculous and backwards.

    2. That sucks re: nerve pain. Nerve pain is one of the worst pains – I have a bone spur on my neck that irritates a nerve which causes constant muscle spasms which play into migraines (so I get both tension headaches and migraines at the same time) so I’m familiar with the whole pain cycle. Added to that, I’m sure all this unnecessary stress you go through just makes the pain worse as I find the more stressed I become, the more tense I become, the more headaches. I haven’t been able to exercise for a year.

      All those rules don’t even make sense. Sure, I can see them testing to see if the medication is in your bloodstream if it were an anti-seizure medication and your driver’s licence depended on it (my mom had to have that test for those reasons) but it’s a pain medication!! To make everyone jump through hoops because of the chance that someone is selling it is really unfair to the majority of people who are going through pain!

      1. Uggh, that sounds like an awful cycle 🙁 I’m so sorry. What do you do for your pain? Goodness, I can’t even imagine what that must be like.

        When I am tense I get the roiling, wavelike charlie horses in the affected area.

        Today a rheumatologist informed methat I most likely have “relapsing polychondritis” which is inflammation of cartilege. I’ve had what I thought was an right ear infection for 3 weeks now. In the beginning my face was so swollen that I could barely speak or eat as my jaw was shoved to the left and there was a straw like tube under the skin near my cheek which I realized with horror was probably my actual ear canal. Pus poured from my ear for days and days. Doc put me on Clindamycn (very strong anti-biotic) The swelling went down but never went away and last night it started getting worse again. Ear canal completely closed up, can’t hear out of it. Can’t sleep. And the pain has me gritting my teeth and crying. Oh, and my eyes got all red and super puffy…thought I had pink eye on top of it (turns out the polychondritis can also affect the eyeballs) So went back to see the doc today and that’s when she referred me to the rheumatologist. Here’s the point…all this suffering, I finally asked, after weeks of enduring this, if there were anything at all I could do for pain, admitting that it could be tricky as I am already on Norco, but that’s just to maintain, not for breakthrough pain like this. I very shyly asked if there were something a little stronger I could switch out even just a couple of days for some rest and relief. The answer was there was nothing they could do. I’m now on a month of prednisone and another round of Clindamycin (just in case but that med is sooo very hard on the intestines). She said the steroids might provide some relief in a week. Well, I certainly didn’t mention that my norco was now gone, a week early because I had no choice but to take extras the nights it was so bad I was rocking back and forth crying. Can’t take extra Tylenol. Motrin isn’t great for me. Blargh…sorry again for the vent. I’ve had maybe 9 hours of sleep this week. I will get through it, I’m grateful I have care…but you are correct…there are so many hoops to jump through I wonder if it’s truly worth it.

        1. The current medical establishment’s approach to pain management, and especially its deathly fear of addictions, is one of its few major, if not catastrophic, failings. Never mind the agony and torture patients like you needlessly suffer; there’s finally starting to be some realization that the pain itself causes direct harm to the body (and the mind).

          There are some physicians who realize this and who take an aggressive approach to pain management. Yes, it needs to be done carefully in a way that minimizes risk of addiction and follows through with effective treatment for those rare cases where addiction results regardless — but that’s no different from any other drug, especially antibiotics. Doctors don’t do enough there to follow through and make sure patients complete the full regimen, and they already have to monitor for allergic or other adverse reactions.

          If possible, I’d love for you to find a physician who understands the critical importance of pain management. In this day and age, there’s no reason why any patients should suffer more pain than they wish to endure. (All drugs are going to have side effects, and most people are going to prefer some degree of pain to the full effect of those side effects — but that’s for the patient and physician to navigate on a case-by-case basis, with the patient making the day-by-day decisions on where to draw the lines.)

          Good luck…and, “Hang in there, kiddo.” Also, “It gets better.”


          1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging response. Unfortunately, when you are part of a massive HMO like Kaiser Permanente, you can’t “doctor shop” and I believe all of their doctors have to follow the same protocol or pretty close to it. Good news is the swelling seems to be pretty responsive to the prednisone, and in fact my nerve pain seems lessened as well…although I don’t believe long-term steroids are a solution to chronic pain…it’s still nice to have some body is so tired right now. Thank you again…you are always so thoughtful and sweet…so many of you here are…I lurve you guys.

            1. I understand Kaiser actually worked as advertised in their early days. That is, that they sought to maximize profits by means of liberally-available preventative care, with the thought that investing a little money up front to keep their patients healthy would minimize expensive treatments down the road. Sadly, that does not seem to have lasted long….


          2. Also, I do completely understand their concern with opiate addiction….so many people OD or destroy their livers, a good percentage of them middle-aged women like myself. But you know what would lessen the damage considerably? Removing the requirement for acetaminophen to be mixed with so many narcotics. They finally lowered it this year from 500mg to 325mg for hydrocodone (Vicodin/Norco). They can no longer prescribe 5mg or 10mg Vicodin with 500mg Tylenol. And why does there have to be Tylenol at all? It’s intentional poisoning, imo. There would be a lot less damage to the body taking extra opiates on their own than extra opiates with acetaminophen. It’s soo ass backwards.

            1. When I was in school, I took way too much tylenol for years because I had impacted wisdom teeth (screw you, evolution!) and learned later that I could have destroyed my liver. I think youth saved me.

              So stupid, these stupid stupid drug rules!

            2. And why does there have to be Tylenol at all? It’s intentional poisoning, imo.

              I’m pretty sure that’s not just opinion, but one of the stated reasons for the formulation.

              Whatever happened to, “First do no harm”? On what planet is it not doing harm to intentionally heavily lace palliative drugs with potentially fatal liver-destroying toxins?


        2. That ear infections sounds really awful. There are stronger antibiotics other than what you’re on so if it doesn’t work – go back right away!

          Doctors are not trained to deal with pain so unless they suffer themselves, they really don’t know what to do for the patient.

          Right now I am starting to get my standard weekend migraine (5th week in a row) which annoys me because not only is it on the weekend but also it requires me to take more medication and that medication is expensive. I need to get my doctor to prescribe more (he gives me 12 pills per prescription and my insurance company feels that is good for a month). I inevitably run out and need to pay out of pocket which costs me $200 for the 12 pills. Talk about gouging. There is no way that medication is that costly to make! If my doctor changes the directions or allows me say 30 pills, the insurance company will pay for it. It makes no sense, but it’s the insurance company.

          I have some strong anti-spasm medication as well. I need to get that at the drugstore as well. Grrrr.

          1. “Doctors are not trained to deal with pain so unless they suffer themselves, they really don’t know what to do for the patient.”

            Exactly this. If it were them or a very close family member there would be no way in hell this suffering would be tolerated. I did attend a pain management class which was required in the beginning…it was full of a lot of woo and psycho-babble. Not to mention, breathing and visualization exercises are probably beneficial in a lot of ways, but not so much in dealing directly with nerve pain – as you know it’s so random and spastic there’s no “connection” between mind and body…at least for me. So it was pretty pointless.
            Re: my ear “infection” it’s not really an infection I guess – it’s that cartilage inflammation…hopefully the prednisone will do its thing. Otherwise I might be looking at long term steroid use. The polychondritis can affect the esophagus and even the heart. I think I have had this for a long time. I’ve had several really bad ear “infections” over the years some of which were diagnosed as cellulitis but maybe it was really this all along.
            How the fuck is 12 pills enough for a chronic pain issue? What is it? (if you don’t mind me asking of course). I think that’s just vile it costs $200 for 12 pills. Uggh – can you find an advocate? Maybe I need to do that too. So sorry to hear you are getting another bout of migraines. I’ve only had one or two in my life and while they felt absolutely horrible I’m sure it was nothing like what you experience. I don’t know how you even function.

            1. It’s just Relpax. Sadly no generic yet. It’s Pfizer. I totally love Pfizer for stumbling upon this but Jesus, stop gouging.

              I once went to a walk in clinic and the doctor flipped when I went to him only to get the Relpax. I got the impression that he was a migraine sufferer as well. He wondered why the pharmacy didn’t just give me a pill – it isn’t even an opiate! I loved that guy! I should’ve switched to him because he totally understood migraine pain.

              1. I don’t know if you saw this, but if you qualify this might really help you out! 🙂 Seems this drug has changed the lives of so many people, it’s good to know it’s out there!


                From the website:
                For more than 25 years, Pfizer has offered a number of assistance programs to help eligible patients access their prescription medicines.
                Now, to answer patients’ changing needs and make our services more accessible, we’ve combined our existing programs into one program called Pfizer RxPathways.
                Pfizer RxPathways, formerly Pfizer Helpful Answers, is a comprehensive assistance program that provides eligible patients with a range of support services, including insurance counseling, co-pay assistance,* and access to medicines for free or at a savings.

              2. Thanks but I live in Canada so I don’t qualify. The solution is easy though – get my doctor to stop being lazy and prescribe me more pills. I just have to get on his case. He told me to just get the drugstore to request the prescription but that becomes complicated when they have repeats of the medicine on file and it becomes a big exercise. I think everyone one on either end (drugstore and doctor) are just being lazy.

              1. Ha ha no, I didn’t take it the wrong way. I was just being a smart ass to Ben.

              2. Yeah — Diana is one of our resident punching bags. Of course, like any good Newtonian, she gives as good as she gets, so watch out!


            2. I can totally relate to the nerve pain. I had a bulging disc squishing my sciatic nerve and that pain put every other pain in the shade, in a huge way. (Including broken limbs, torn knees, shoulder dislocations, broken fingers, minor operations and tooth-drilling without anesthesia, etc.)

              I was taking percacets (sp?) faster than labeling and that just dulled the pain enough so that I wasn’t grinding my teeth in a fetal position. A month in bed, never more than 2 hours sleep at a stretch and that rarely.

              An epidural (cortisone + lidocaine) and then PT and proper back hygiene eventually allowed the bulge to re-absorb.

              I hope you find a solution soon!

  42. We have seen the damage done by making alcohol illegal. I believe that if more ‘illicit pleasures’ (ie sex, drugs, et al) were legalized, regulated and taxed, we might first pay off the National debt, save many lives (both literally and end some of the horrible excuses for lives brought on by desperation and social stigma), control the spread of disease, vastly decrease the power of the cartels trafficking in drugs and people, relieve some of the overcrowding and expense of the prison systems and reduce stress-related problems in the general population. Not to mention end the obvious career choices in low (or any class) income areas where children and young adults can compare the time and money involved in working mostly minimum wage careers or long and expensive education for better careers against one days profits from dealing and/or pimping.

    The sad thing is that most people do not realize that many of the drug laws were based and enacted on skewed and bigoted beliefs that legally available drugs were causing the ‘weak and inherently low morality’ of non-Caucasian populations to ’embrace a life of crime.’

    1. I don’t share quite your level of optimism that legalizing drugs will reach those panacea-like proportions.

      we might first pay off the National debt

      Pay it off? At 17 trillion or whatever it is at now? Not a chance. Perhaps make a measurable dent in the yearly deficit, but even that wouldn’t even approach the break even point by ending the war on drugs.

      save many lives (both literally and end some of the horrible excuses for lives brought on by desperation and social stigma), control the spread of disease

      Check and check.

      relieve some of the overcrowding and expense of the prison systems and reduce stress-related problems in the general population

      Most certainly, and this is the biggest area that would be improved. The fact that Federal Loans can be rescinded for a petty drug violation can have a quite large impact on a college student for the remainder of his life. This feeds into the ability to make a decent living, and though you are correct that those in minimum wage jobs won’t have the choice to deal/pimp anymore, they still will have to resort to other illicit activities so long as a significant segment of the population is not educated to meet today’s technological demands.

      I think our education problems run much deeper than this issue, it’s not likely we’d see a magical decrease in theft crimes committed by those who lack education.

      vastly decrease the power of the cartels trafficking in drugs and people

      These people wouldn’t go away without a fight. They’d certainly exploit something else as they have both money, arms, and a wide network. I’d think an obvious direction they’d go is illicit trade of already legal items. Then there’s the time-honored trades of racketeering, extortion, cronyism, etc., but I definitely don’t expect they’d just go away.

  43. One of the more evil things the US has done over the last half century is to actively push its sick ‘war on drugs’ policies on the rest of the world. Dozens of countries now enjoy all the same great social benefits described in comments above, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

    Here in NZ the police regularly waste huge amounts of public money (and fuel) buzzing around in helicopters in the bush destroying illegal marijuana plots. It’s doubtless much more fun than trying to catch burglars. I just see it as a huge waste of resources.

  44. The two main legal recreational drugs have proven to make an industry around hospitals, A&E, other types of drugs, meaning drug companies the odd bandage, insurance, medical centres, ambulance services, the unsavoury food industry.(I’m not against fast foods just for less of it and more choice)
    The point being marijuana can’t make this situation any worse and I’ll even push the boat further and say recreational users probably save governments silly amounts of subsidy dollars on anti depressants.
    These users self medicate at no cost to taxpayers,seriously though, let alone all medicinal treatment benefits to cancer sufferers and others already stated here.
    And of course, the law enforcement time and costs, jail time, family time re: social costs.. and for what? boosting government crime figures?

    Legalize all classes of drugs. In that way you could monitor it’s quality, it’s users health, just like the rest of us.. they can pay taxes on what they use, just like the rest of us..
    I once watched an interview with a British comedian actor, who said, “I’ve never seen anyone smoke pot and then go out and smash someone over the head” unlike alcohol. Pot is less violent? you be the judge.
    I agree also that it would defuse the gang and criminal element if you could grow for personal use and buy from reputable outlets.

    There are a number of people around us taking all sorts of multiple drugs just to function and this is every day, so I ask, what is the difference.
    With the likes of cannabis, it should be treated to the same regulations as alcohol with robust restrictions with a minimum of 18 years of age to buy and use. This stems from a personal experience of one of my sons friends. I’ll just say for now, sometime soon I hope, that a DNA test might or could resolve this issue just like it could for potential alcoholics.

    I rile against the hypocrisy of it all and damage done, money and resources spent when the existing recreational drugs are the big killers.
    The freedom to choose when your not harming anyone else.
    We have a family moving to another country to where the law is more tolerant to the use of marijuana, primary to medicate their very sick child legally.

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