Must Everybody Now Get Stoned?

Potby Avi Davis   12/3/14
Three years ago my sons and I, returning from a rafting trip in Oregon, were driving the Redwood Highway through Northern California when we passed the entrance to a field with a banner which read The Kate Wolf Music Festival.  Intrigued, I suggested to the boys that we enter and check it out.  But my sons had had enough of what they called ” weirdo alternatives” having encountered them in large numbers almost everywhere we went in Southern Oregon. Threatening mutiny, they adamantly refused.  We drove on.

But my interest was piqued and for a year I awaited the announcement of  the next year’s Festival.  I was actually fascinated to discover what had become of the remnants of the hippie generation, which I was certain I would find at a gathering of this sort — a question that had beguiled me ever since I had heard Barry McGuire sing about San Franciscans with flowers in the mid 60s.

So in early July, 2012 I drove the 600 or so miles to Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, north of Mendocino.  I did not know exactly what to expect.  But as soon as I entered the gates, the aroma of one substance made it clear to me that I was no longer in Kansas. Marijuana was everywhere.[pullquote]Why are we dropping our apprehensions about marijuana, and possibly other mind altering substances, when the evidence has been with us for hundreds of years?[/pullquote]

It took only an hour to find a group of friends.  A collection of men and women, in their mid to late 20s, had set up a tent near mine and were singing songs to welcome in the Jewish Sabbath, which would soon be upon us. I joined them and for three days we enjoyed each others’ company and they provided a rich vein of material with which to tap into the mentality of the hippie culture which still thrives in many parts of America’s West Coast.    What fascinated me most was the fact that every one of the fourteen people I met under that tent was involved, in one way or another, in the cultivation or dispensation of marijuana. From medical marijuana dispensaries to on-line websites to greenhouses, all of them had found a way to make a living from the sale of cannabis in modern day California.

Business, they told me, had boomed since California passed a ballot initiative in 2010 legalizing the sale of  medical marijuana.  Farmers, who had hidden their most lucrative cash crop for decades, suddenly came out in the open and were able to sell and have their cannabis processed unlike any time before. Some had become millionaires overnight.

Over the past few years  I have become quite used to seeing, smelling and sensing marijuana freely used in Southern California. My children, who attend Orthodox Jewish day schools, tell me it is easily obtainable in their own school yard; it is passed around at parties – and it is doesn’t matter much whether the party goers are conservatives or liberals.   Increasingly, pot smoking is seen as a sign of distinction, as if you are proving your credentials as a genuine bon vivant by rolling that bulging joint between your fingers.

Never having been a pothead in my youth — in fact having loathed smoking in general — I could not attest to the buzz so many seem to receive from the recreational use of marijuana.  But the fact  that so many people in California and other places seem to enjoy  the experience — and can purchase and smoke (or otherwise ingest) marijuana on a fairly regular basis — has become the force which has propelled its acceptance in 21 states, first as a medical palliative, and now increasingly as a recreational drug of choice.

As of today four states — Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado — have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  On November 4th it was legalized in the nation’s capital.

So we must have come a long way from the unenlightened 1960s right?

Well, not exactly.  Federal law still characterizes marijuana as a Substance 1 barbituate — placing it on the same level as heroin and cocaine in its addictive and health endangering properties. And this is for good reason.  There have been no conclusive studies which have rebutted the notion that marijuana, taken as a regular relaxant, does not have long term medical risks.   If cigarettes and alcohol are mind altering substances that can have deleterious long term affects on one’s health, marijuana is very much still in that category.

And although the relaxant properties of THC can alleviate pain, there are substantial doubts about its applications.

“Smoking is generally a poor way to deliver medicine,” says Dr. Akikur Mohammad, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist with a specialty in addictive medicine. “As a doctor, I assure you that it is almost impossible to administer safe, regulated dosages of medicines in smoked form. Morphine, for example, has proven to be a medically valuable drug, but no responsible physician endorses smoking opium or heroin.

Recent studies have also suggested that marijuana use in youth can lead to permanent damage, a problem that would likely be exacerbated by widespread legalization. Ultimately, though, definitive conclusions on the medical benefits or drawbacks of marijuana are hard to come by, since the drug’s status as a Schedule 1 substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency makes it’s difficult to obtain even for research purposes.

The immediate effects of taking marijuana — what we refer to as our our “high” —  include rapid heart beat, disorientation, lack of physical coordination, often followed by depression or sleepiness. Some users suffer panic attacks or anxiety.

But the problem does not end there. According to scientific studies, THC remains in the body for weeks or longer.

Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke. One major research study reported that a single cannabis joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another. Long-time joint smokers often suffer from bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract.

And the drug can affect more than your physical health. A recent study from the University of Texas at Dallas links heavy, long-term use of marijuana with smaller growth in the orbitofrontal cortex — a brain region associated with decision-making and addiction.  And a recent study in Britain linked high potency cannabis with the incidence of psychosis.

Young brains, that are not yet fully developed, are extremely susceptible to permanent damage from mind altering substances.  And the claims that marijuana is not addictive are nonsense,  according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse

“It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it.1 The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users.2 Moreover, a study of over 300 fraternal and identical twin pairs found that the twin who had used marijuana before the age of 17 had elevated rates of other drug use and drug problems later on, compared with their twin who did not use before age 17.3 “

With such a significant body of evidence to suggest that this stuff is just not good for you, how is it that we are now seeking to legalize it as if none of it matters?  From the opium dens of Shanghai, Paris and  London in the 1800s to the drug dependencies of our greatest jazz men — Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Stan Getz — we have seen the devastations that such addictions can wreak on vibrant minds. Why are we dropping our apprehensions about marijuana, and possibly other mind altering substances, when the evidence has been with us for hundreds of years?

Perhaps it has something to do with a hedonistic culture which just does not want any obstacles placed in the way of enjoying the true recreational pleasures of life.  It is only when we start dying in our hundreds of thousands (eg: from nicotine related causes or sexually transmitted diseases) that we suddenly wake up to realize how wrong headed our attitudes and tolerances have been.

There is a legend that Bob Dylan, in recording Rainy Day Women #12 and 35, the first single from his famous 1966 album Blonde on Blonde, insisted that all the musicians recording it with him be either drunk or stoned — hence the famous refrain: Oh I would not feel so all alone / everybody must get stoned. 

Apocryphal though the story might be, I have to wonder if Dylan ever thought that one day American society, once the barriers to freely acquiring hallucinogenic substances had been demolished, might be taking his edict quite seriously? And did he ever stop to wonder what kind of society we might have, when everybody, in fact, does get stoned?

1. Anthony, J.; Warner, L.A.; and Kessler, R.C. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 2:244–268, 1994.
2. Hall, W.; and Degenhardt, L. Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.Lancet 374:1383–1391, 2009.
3. Lynskey, M.T.; Heath, A.C.; Bucholz, K.K.; Slutske, W.S.; Madden, P.A.; Nelson, E.C.; Statham, D.J.; and Martin, N.G. Escalation of drug use in early-onset cannabis users vs. co-twin controls. JAMA 289(4):427–433, 2003.

(This article was originally published at The Intermediate Zone.)


AFA logoAvi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and blogs at The Intermediate Zone. • (1357 views)

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11 Responses to Must Everybody Now Get Stoned?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here at StubbornThings we have a culture of second-hand knowledge. And that is way better than the culture of first or second-hand smoke of the potheads.

    And sometimes we engage in first-hand knowledge. I love that Avi wrote about the Jewish yutes he encountered at some pot festival. One realizes again what Dennis Prager notes about so many Jews: Judaism isn’t their religion. Leftism is. And I assume this applies to the pot-smoking yutes as well.

    I know little about the proper adherence to Judaism. But I’m pretty sure that “My body is a temple” is a big part of it, as it is (or should be) for Christians. And polluting your mind with pot shows where people’s true loyalties belong.

    Why this movement toward pot? Perhaps I’ll leave that for Mr. Kung to answer (and I think he can provide a better answer). But surely it’s a sign of our dumbed-down, therapeutic-oriented, narcissistic society where the idea of self-discipline and doing-without does not cross many people’s minds. Not to mention that what is considered “cool” — no matter how foolish — is now King (not Jehovah or Jesus who can’t compete with the worldly highs).

    Thanks again, Avi, for a wonderful perspective and valuable information on all this.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Why this movement toward pot?

      Whoa, dude, give me a second. I know I had the answer just now, but it sort-a, you know, went up in smoke. Cough, cough.

      Seriously, the reasons for drug use have been many through out history. But I have the sense that the increase in pot smoking today has something to do with the great material success in our society. It has become a very middle class vice.

      Potheads are not like the poor drunks who used to stumble through our streets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, I have spoken to pot smokers who see themselves as better than puking drunks. Many pot heads really do think they are smarter than the rest of us. They have been able to open some door to an alternative consciousness which others have missed. This can give them a sense of being special while having done little worth noting.

      And, as you say, it is seen to be cool. No doubt, some of those pot heads out there see sucking on a bong as flipping the bird to authority. They like it that it annoys, which is really cool.

      Of course, the music and entertainment business is well known for the prevalence of pot. So there are probably many who think by smoking a joint they are somehow closer to being artistic. These are likely the same types who think they are displaying talent when playing with Guitar Hero.

      Finally, one should never underestimate the inner lemming in a large number of humans. This tendency has only increased due to a horrible education system and the constant hammering away at morality by the Left and Libertarians.

      With today’s technology, every stupid immoral action can be spread and amplified through vehicles such as Twitter and Facebook. It is much easier to spread stupidity and bad taste than to pursue excellence. How else can one explain the Kardasians, another type of dope? Sorry, if that is spelled wrong, but I can’t be bothered to look it up as this pond scum is not worth the time it would take.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Backward reasoning. They think that if a lot of artistic types use marijuana, then it means that using marijuana will make them artistic. Just like a liberal who looks up the dictionary definition of “liberal” and boasts that, according to that, he’s open-minded and tolerant (when in reality liberals are neither). Or, for that matter, thinking that increasing price means increasing value (which is the logic, such as it is, behind minimum wage increases). Elizabeth Warren’s similarly backward reasoning over why she’s an Indian is one reason I call her Blonde Squaw With Empty Head.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Thanks for you thoughts on this, Mr. Kung. I see you can still think. You must not be a pot-head. 😀

      • “…never underestimate the inner lemming…” Great line, Mr. Kung! So true.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I never used either tobacco or marijuana, though I did have a college roommate who toked (though I didn’t know about it until later; he certainly never smoked it in my presence, and I wouldn’t have been able to smell it if he smoked it at other times). It seems that current marijuana is stronger, which is one reason why it’s so much more dangerous today (especially for young people with brains not yet fully formed).

    Incidentally, I don’t think Barry McGuire did “San Francisco”; my recollection is that it was Scott McKenzie. McGuire did “Eve of Destruction”, which I did a parody of for the FOSFAX coming out Real Soon Now. I looked him up once on Wikipedia, and it seems he since has gone into gospel singing (and in fact has done a religious version of “Eve of Destruction”).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      According to Wiki, “San Francisco” was written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas (and sung by Scott McKenzie).

      But obviously Barry McGuire did sing it a time or two, as did many other artists.

      It’s funny the notion of Jewish yutes (like so many others of whatever persuasion) being attracted to the Cannabis God of slackers, drop-outs, and bums. Jehovah is normally a demanding God. Maybe that’s the attraction of pot to some. Certainly normal knowledge, wisdom, and achievement are hard and demanding things. Pot may be a short-cut for some to an air (smoggy though that air might be) of sophistication.

      And Avi could have knocked me over with a feather when he wrote:

      A recent study from the University of Texas at Dallas links heavy, long-term use of marijuana with smaller growth in the orbitofrontal cortex — a brain region associated with decision-making and addiction.

      My experience with Libertarians does not give me much confidence that the drug is completely safe and won’t mess with one’s brain.

  3. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Here we see the dangers of freedom without moral guidance on how to exercise that freedom – it is not liberty, but the libertinism of the Left/Libertarian alliance. It is difficult to justify drug prohibition just as it is any law that seeks to protect the individual from himself. In this much the Libertarian is correct, although he has reached his conclusion through faulty means, and in fact classical liberalism would probably agree while urging a restraint the Libertarian lacks. But liberty requires a society of mature adults who can exercise their freedom responsibly and not act like a bunch of juvenile pot-heads (this would be the basis of a Conservative case for drug prohibition).

    This is why the Left is in favor of legalizing pot: the last thing they want or need are responsible citizens in full possession of their faculties, desirous of preserving their real liberty (e.g. property rights) against the Left’s onslaught. A debauched citizenry, hooked on drugs and government goodies, is far easier to control. Throw in sex without consequences to further distract the masses and you have a formula for absolute rule. In other words, “allow” the citizens some freedom in areas which are relatively unimportant while you seize the power to rule them in those areas which are important.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This is why I like the idea of decriminalization rather than outright legalization. The former treats the behavior as wrong, but also (at least generally) not worth the trouble of prosecuting. The latter is interpreted to mean that the behavior is not wrong at all (which is what the potheads want, of course, but is undesirable for society).

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      It is difficult to justify drug prohibition just as it is any law that seeks to protect the individual from himself. In this much the Libertarian is correct, although he has reached his conclusion through faulty means, and in fact classical liberalism would probably agree while urging a restraint the Libertarian lacks. But liberty requires a society of mature adults who can exercise their freedom responsibly and not act like a bunch of juvenile pot-heads (this would be the basis of a Conservative case for drug prohibition).

      One of the major beefs I have with those who call themselves Libertarians is the fact that while they claim they are all for personal responsibility i.e. a person having to live with the consequences of his choices, they know that to a very large degree, this does not and cannot happen in today’s society.

      Therefore, in addition to the personal damage they wreak on those they encounter, they also cost society at large which too often absorbs the overall social costs of their insane choices. Thus they enlarge the welfare state and restrict freedom which they claim to support.

      If they were truly for the “liberty” they would do everything they could to dismantle the administrative/welfare state. By doing this, much of what they want, including unrestrained sex, drugs and rock and roll, would likely come about as the government would have less power to interfere in people’s lives. But the dirty little secret that we at ST have known for some time is many Libertarians are really either Leftists in drag or libertines in Brooks Brothers.

  4. Great piece, Avi. I have seen first hand, as a high school teacher, the devastating effects of pot use on a young brain.

    And I got a kick out of your experiences in Southern Oregon. I live in that lovely place and have often rafted the Rogue. I hope you also got to see some plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and speaking of which, even long before the legalization of pot in this state, kids would sit in the park at the base of the “Globe” theater and smoke dope. The park is only a 1/2 block from the police station. It is part of the mystique of Ashland — I wonder what the Bard would think of that.

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