Marijuana today proceed with caution

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Photo: Saathi Midha Photography. Model: Cocomiku Purbah.

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By: Sarah Smith

Many are rejoicing at being able to freely buy and consume cannabis.

The conversation of marijuana legalization has been ongoing for 50 years. After the historic Woodstock concert in New York in 1969 where the world witnessed a public display of drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll, LIFE Magazine published a series of articles outlining America’s marijuana statues.

The then-Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Dr. James L. Goddard, touted as one the best in its history, was quoted, “our laws governing marijuana are a mixture of bad science and poor understanding of the role of law as a deterrent force. The federal and state laws should be revised to reflect the fact that marijuana is a hallucinogen and should be classified as such. It is not difficult to reach the conclusion that cannabism would become a societal problem.”

Fast forward 50 years and a whole lot has changed. The Late Dr. Goddard has been replaced by vote-grabbing politicians who seem to think that scientific research is not required to legalize a drug that has proven hallucinogenic results on cognitive brain function.

Because of the delicious effects of THC (a chemical component in cannabis that results in the associated “high” of marijuana), recent cannabis strains are produced to yield increasingly higher amounts, much higher than nature intended. With so many strains and varieties hitting the legal market, and with very little research to back up efficacy and safety, do people really know what they might be consuming?

Proponents may believe that the best thing about legalization is that you can smoke anytime or anywhere without really thinking about the accompanying regulation and standardization. Like alcohol, companies will have to document chemical content and percentage of psychoactive components – and this a good thing because you will know exactly what you are putting into your body.

Proponents also cite that “smoking up is better than drinking”. The comparison is easy to make. But is this really a fair comparison? Alcohol and alcohol abuse have been around for long enough for people to see the damage. Cannabis is just starting to become legal. A better comparison will be in the next 20 or 30 years when longer term effects of social cannabis use become real. To conclude a substance is safe, it must be studied in a controlled environment.

The decision to make cannabis legal is based on popularity and not actually on scientific evidence of either its effectiveness or its safety. This is not to say that the plant isn’t safe, but the truth is, there aren’t many long-term studies with large enough sample sizes for us to say for sure, and so we simply don’t know.

To say cannabis is either good nor bad is just too simplistic; and what it means for society is yet to be seen. But for newbies that want to try it, proceed with caution, and do a little research before you double down on those brownies.