To The Daily Sun,
The New Hampshire state Senate has recently passed a bill in favor of medical marijuana and decriminalization. Some states have already made pot legal for recreational purposes and as profits increase; other states will follow. Ironically, this is also a changing time when brain imaging technology has advanced to such a degree that brain plasticity changes are much easier for neurologists to observe and monitor.
They can understand much more precisely how repetitive thought, trauma and strong emotions seem to seriously effect how the brain grows.
While some believe that huge increases in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, will cause overt negative deterioration in brain development, other scientists say it will somehow help protect the brain.
The point here is that debate may probably never end. But over time, as marijuana becomes more legal, potent and available it will probably present some unanticipated negative as well as positive outcomes.
A century ago the average person in the U.S. consumed three to four pounds of sugar each year. These days that amount has increased to about 85 pounds or more and one consequence is that many more Americans struggle with weight problems. Also, diabetes and other overweight-related health problems have soared because of the increased availability of foods that a percentage of people over consume, or perhaps become addicted to.
During the 1970s, when the legal drinking age in several states was lowered to 18 and alcohol was made available to a larger number of younger people, there were significant pros and cons that resulted. More money was made but many lives were lost.
Alcohol is still the number one addictive drug that can lead to death, incarceration as well as causing physical, occupational and psychological debilitation because of how it affects the brain and its deep entrenchment and acceptance in our culture. Cannabis, in terms of behavioral changes is less dangerous than alcohol, but from my perspective as a long-term addiction treatment counselor as well as having been in recovery for many years, it would be great if all potentially habit-forming substances would just go away for good. But that's not happening any time soon.
One argument is that only 5 to 10 percent of those who consume any alcohol at all, actually drink it irresponsibly or alcoholically. The other 90 percent should have their right to imbibe. Of course, that 10 percent consumes at least 80 percent of all the beer and liquor that is sold. If it weren't for the active alcoholics, liquor profits would be mediocre at best.
The seemingly inevitable decriminalization and possibly full legalization of pot may provide some advantages such as an additional funding resource for treatment of addictions to more dangerous drugs like pharmaceutical pain meds and heroin. Maybe there would be a percentage of young adults who, during their youthful intoxicant experimentation right-of-passage, ultimately choose marijuana as a social substance instead of alcohol. If that were to happen even to a small degree, the result would likely be a diminished domestic violence problem, which the police wouldn't mind and fewer fatal car crashes preventing horrendous grief and loss in families.
But if marijuana companies compete in the free and legal market to offer the best product, will the levels of psychoactive chemicals and their bi-products increase exponentially? Years down the line will some totally unpredicted cannabis related health issue prevail? I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but we need to remember that less than 50 years ago, cigarettes and tobacco products that were around for centuries, were still being advertised on TV as potentially healthful and beneficial (soft drinks, too) to the young, active and good-looking generation — the Americans of the 1960s. A lot of money was made, and lives are still being lost
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