It may surprise some people to find out that Cannabis has been smoked for thousands of years. The first documented use dates back to the Third Millennium B.C. (3,000 – 2,500 BC.) So far as anyone can determine, the use of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica to achieve more relaxed and mildly altered states has neither ceased nor really slowed down appreciably ever since. Its history in the twentieth century is more commonly known.
Popular with the “Beats” of the 1940s and 1950s, it was resurrected and broadened from that small, intellectual subculture set to broader use in the 1960s and 1970s where its use among the young adults around the world became nearly ubiquitous. Today’s youth have discovered those famous five leaves as well – But, the marijuana of today is not their parents or grandparents marijuana. The resemblance in strength and effect is almost passingly vague.
Deliberately cultivating one of the more THC-laden varieties of Cannabis using modern hydroponic methods and fertilizer/chemical advances has yielded generations of available ‘weed’ which is many, many times more potent than the marijuana that enjoyed such common usage back in the 1960s.
The difference is so profound that it is more than a bit misleading to refer to the drug then and now by the same name.
Yet, as the dried buds available on the street – and in licensed dispensaries in many cities – are much more expensive than they once were but are 20 – 100 times more powerful, people continue to buy and consume it with many of the same rationalizations used back in the 19602. Most people, whether they use Cannabis or not, are aware of many of these:
” It is not addictive.”
” It is not any more harmful than a drink of (legal) alcohol.”
” I can go to school or work using it. It does not create any problems.”
” It is better than prescription drugs for relaxing.”
The picture is further complicated by the success of advocates in getting marijuana use and, in some states, sales to be legalized for medical use. While the initial push to legalize marijuana to stimulate appetite or control the nausea associated with various Cancer therapies, the application has spread to general conditions like mild anxiety.
In most metropolitan areas where medical marijuana is legal (this in contrast to Federal law which still bans it as a controlled substance), medical prescriptions can be purchased for $100. or less from physicians who write these ‘scripts’ for a living without ever seeing or evaluating the ‘patient.’
So while the drug has been intentionally cultivated to be exponentially stronger and its access is far less limited than it once was, the last remaining barrier to marijuana use may simply be good judgment.
One of the problems with marijuana, from the perspective of a mental health professional, is that it creates the illusion that it actually works. That is, when someone smokes a ‘joint’ or a ‘doobee’ to relax, they become more relaxed – for a while.
When someone smokes up to feel better, it seems to do the job – for a while. Many studies (and tons of anecdotal evidence) have concluded that ingesting THC (Tetrahydrocannibanol – the most common active ingredient in marijuana) actually brings on depression as the human body metabolizes it.
So, the drug lies. It works in the short run, but a bit later, the user is going to feel increasingly worse. This is the phenomenon that cause users to smoke more often although they persist in denying that it is addictive.
Marijuana has never gone away nor is it apt to. Much stronger than it was with previous generations, the weed of today is a powerful drug which, by its chemical activity, actually makes people who use it to feel better feel increasingly worse.
It lies. There are always many people who appreciate being lied to when the lie helps to justify whatever it is they want to do.
Marijuana, while arguably helpful to some Cancer patients and others experiencing severe chronic pain, is neither benign nor therapeutic. It’s ready availability and quasi-legalization are rather reflective of one small victory for poorly informed hedonism.