Anyone who ever had a garage band knows how hard it is to find a good, reliable drummer. The band I had in my younger days went through several talented guys. They were great musicians and improved the entire venture exponentially — when they remembered to show up. Which wasn’t often. We fired one after another and finally resorted to taking turns on the drums ourselves. (We were awful.) But these talented, brilliant drummers loved getting high, and so things like remembering to show up for their commitments often fell by the wayside. Their pot use made them unreliable people. And this was a couple of decades ago when weed was still relatively weak.
Weed today is, on average, five or six times as potent as the stuff the hippies smoked back in the ’60s and ’70s. In 1972, the average THC content in most marijuana in the United States was 3% to 4%. Today’s pot commonly has a THC content of 20% or more. Additionally, the percentage of the compound CBD has decreased, which experts say can increase the overall effect of the more potent grass.
Note that I’m not here to bash the positive results many have had from treating chronic issues with medicinal herb but to remind everyone that getting high all the time for no reason is dumb. Don’t be a lotus-eater.
Yesterday, NBC News highlighted a recent study that shows that not only does smoking pot impair numerous mental functions of the user, but these effects can linger for weeks after use has stopped. The Canadian study was one of those meta-reviews that analyzes data from multiple existing scientific studies to discover overarching trends. What it found was that, every time someone gets high, they can be dumber for weeks. Hardest hit was the ability to learn from what one hears and to remember things. So, for example, if you told your drummer to be at your house for rehearsal on Thursday night, not only would he have trouble understanding what that meant, he would probably forget it even if he did. Also particularly affected is the stoner’s ability to focus or pay attention and to process information. Smaller deficits were also recorded for executive functioning, decision-making, inhibitory processes, and flexibility.
“Although acute intoxication can last several hours, research has revealed that THC is a fat-soluble compound that may be stored in body fat and, thus, gradually released into the bloodstream for months,” say the scientists. “Indeed, studies have shown impaired cognition that persists beyond the acute intoxication period in both adult and adolescent cannabis users,” they write. The more heavy the use, the more pronounced the effects, but even someone who only smokes weed once every week or two could still be consistently impaired. Most of us have a hard enough time keeping up; why on earth would anyone choose to jettison an extra couple dozen IQ points?
And not only does pot make people stupid, but it can also make them crazy. This is particularly true among heavy users and younger users whose brains are still forming. Narcanon notes that chronic use of today’s super-jacked weed can induce panic attacks, paranoia, wild mood swings, fragmented thoughts, depersonalization (losing one’s sense of identity), and straight-up psychosis. A 2017 study published in the journal Neuropharmacology ties youthful marijuana use to increased onset of severe mental illnesses:
Prospective epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that cannabis use is associated with an increased subsequent risk of both psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia-like psychoses. Early onset of use, daily use of high-potency cannabis, and synthetic cannabinoids carry the greatest risk. The risk-increasing effects are not explained by shared genetic predisposition between schizophrenia and cannabis use.
Parents, now’s the time to smack that doobie right out of your kid’s mouth, unless you want to spend your golden years trying to prop up a once-promising youth who instead chose to live in a tent under a bridge somewhere.
Nevertheless, Big Left (and even some on our side) have been pushing for legalization of recreational use, and they’ve been making great strides towards their goals in recent years. Borrowing a lawlessness tactic from “sanctuary” municipalities, activists simply declare their states exempt from federal law.
The results from allowing recreational toking are infuriatingly predictable. Colorado, which led the legalization parade in 2014, saw massive increases in ER visits. In 2019, CBS reported:
2,567 emergency visits at the Denver hospital were caused by marijuana from 2012-2016. Nine out of 10 cases were Colorado residents. Seventeen percent of the visits were for uncontrolled bouts of vomiting. It was most often from inhaled marijuana, not edibles.
Twelve percent of the cases were for acute psychosis, where people without a history of mental disorders lose touch with reality. That was more frequently seen with edibles.
The findings come on the heels of a study published last week that found people who smoked strong marijuana on a daily basis were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared with people who never used the drug. Intoxication and heart problems were other common complaints in the Colorado hospital study.
Super! While the libertarian in me understands legalization of anything anyone wants to put in their body, the conservative in me does not want to pay for it. (I know my band would probably have hit the big time if we’d ever found a reliable drummer and I’d be living in a mansion by now, if not for the devil’s lettuce ruining my plans.) Yet as Big Left pushes ever more drug use on an already mentally ill, over-dosing, struggling generation, the costs to society are stacking up.
As the squares used to joke back in the day, “Why do you think they call it ‘dope’?”