Be Honest About It

I feel that my position on marijuana legalization (embodied by this recent post), an issue I extend to other chemicals in health care, is very well-balanced. By "well-balanced," what I mean is that my position is fully aware of both the modest pros and significant cons of cannabis.

Marijuana is not a panacea. In fact, it probably has more drawbacks than benefits. To me, acknowledging this simple fact is nothing other than realism. The medicinal benefits of cannabis are clinically proven and well-documented, and what has been proven and documented is precisely what I wrote here on the blog the other day:
What's interesting about medicinal marijuana is that there are better pain-killers out there, better anti-depressants, and better anti-convulsants. Cannabis is interesting in that it possesses all three qualities, but basically uninteresting in that it is not particularly excellent at any of them.
So, to sum up, while cannabis is nothing to get excited about, it nevetheless has clinically proven medicinal uses that patients ought to be able to opt-into if they so choose. See, the truth of the situation is that marijuana is not particularly great - but it has its place in the therapeutic guidelines.

This simple, modest proposal has some marijuana advocates all bent out of shape. Some readers felt, and communicated to me privately and with thinly veiled threats, that I was not sufficiently enamored of marijuana. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that marijuana is bad and that consuming it is idiotic.

Why? Because marijuana causes lung and testicular cancer, precipitates psychotic episodes in people already susceptible to them, and can cause depression. None of this should be surprising to anyone who actually knows and understands its physical effects. What makes me a bad guy is that I am equally as frank about the problems of drug use as I am about the benefits of legalizing drugs anyway.

This is unusual among legalization advocates. Most of them are inclined to simply make the case that drugs are not so bad and that people ought to be allowed to consume them as they please. Meanwhile, people who feel drugs should always remain outlawed focus all of their efforts on explaining the many evils of drug use. I offend everyone, because I endorse the most offensive aspects of both sides. On the one hand, I strongly believe people ought to be allowed to consume drugs as they please; on the other hand, using drugs is stupid and wrong.

The drug issue needs less messaging. People need to start being more frank, more open, more honest about drugs, otherwise the issue will never get anywhere. People need to acknowledge that legalizing marijuana will never lead to a situation in which the majority of young, innocent, sweet children become meth addicts. People also need to acknowledge that smoking marijuana is idiotic. These are facts; we shouldn't mince them.

At the end of the day, you will be better off if you avoid using marijuana than if you don't. A joint isn't going to kill you, but let's not pretend it's a multi-vitamin, either. I'm saying this not because I want to take all your freedoms away, but because I think you ought to enjoy your freedoms and meanwhile you might want to think about not doing stupid things.

That's all.