2016-02-01

Back On My Hobby Horse

Every couple of months, I have to make everyone angry by writing a blog post about the deleterious effects of recreational drug use.

Many advocates of drug legalization like to use a weird rhetorical tactic in which they compare Illegal Drug X (usually marijuana) to Legal Substance Y (usually alcohol, but sometimes caffeine and sugar). In so far as their point is that Drug X is no more harmful than any other perfectly legal substance, it is a valid point. But occasionally these folks attempt to build a bridge too far, and actually try to make the case that alcohol, or tobacco, or caffeine, or sugar ought to be illegal, and that Drug X ought not be. Not only do I consider this a bad argument, I think it's an illberal one. If Drug X ought to be legalized, so should all the things that are already legal.

Let's move on to the topic of the day.

Several years ago, it was widely reported - and confirmed to the surest extent that any such a thing actually can be definitively proven - that chronic marijuana use causes testicular cancer. Those who would suggest that marijuana is harmless must now admit that there is one serious risk associated with using it.

Today, we now have another good reason to eschew marijuana. A number of media outlets are reporting that long-term marijuana use is deleterious to verbal memory.
Researchers found that as past years of marijuana use increased, verbal memory scores decreased. In practical terms, the results meant that for every additional five years of exposure, 50 percent of marijuana users would remember one less word from a list of 15 tested words.
So, if you consume marijuana consistently for seventy-five years, you can reasonably expect that you will remember zero of the words on a fifteen-word list. Consume marijuana for two decades, and expect to forget one third of the words.

Granted, it might not seem like much, but suppose those words make up a grocery list. That's inconvenient. Suppose the words make up your child's birthday list. That's shameful. Suppose the words make up a list of contra-indicated medicines that you ought not be taking with your current medication. That's potentially fatal.

But that's why I write shit down hehehehehehehehehehe puff puff pass...

This was an epidemiological study of over three thousand patients, so the findings are about as robust as we can reasonably expect from epidemiological studies.

Does this mean I think marijuana should be illegal? No. But don't anyone fool themselves about what this plant does to the human brain.