A real risk or a made-up disorder?
We have all heard the claims and warnings. Cannabis is a gateway drug, causes psychosis and is highly addictive. Those of us who know better have long laughed these stories off as the poorly contrived fiction that it is. As we meander ever closer to legalization, these types of stories from opponents will become more frequent and far-fetched and we need to be just as vocal with the truth.
The anti-cannabis crowd hopes to use the general public’s lack of knowledge of the subject to gain support through misinformation, fear mongering and outright lies. We am here to set the record straight using factual studies, as opposed to their unknown or questionable sources.
A news story today (Jan.17/18) on CBC Canada with the outrageous headline:
“Nearly destroyed by pot, former addict worries others will be hooked by legal marijuana” screams for a factual rebuttal. We challenge author Mark Quinn to provide proof that the subject of his article actually exists. My guess is this person exist only in Marks mind, but he is welcome to prove me wrong. What leads me to this conclusion you might ask? My first hint: The line immediately below the headline, in bold text, gives it away
“Just as bad as a cocaine addict,’ says woman who stopped sleeping, eating while using pot “
This statement leads me to believe that this woman has at least some experience with cocaine use and very likely was or is dependent on it. Information later in the story hints at symptoms closer related to methamphetamine use. Two of the most common effects of cannabis use are increased appetite (the munchies) and, in many people, tiredness, sleepiness or what is known as a ‘greenout’. Why did this mystery woman suffer effects exactly opposite of what factual studies say should happen? Who is this woman, you ask, and how can I be sure she’s telling the truth? The story writer, Mark, was kind enough to provide us with this useful information so we can verify his far fetched story. You’ll probably recognize the name and if you live in Newfoundland you might even know her. Her name is, wait for it… Jane Doe from eastern N.L. Give her a call. CBC claims they are protecting her identity. I think the CBC is using my tax money to lie to us. Let’s play along and pretend our Jane Doe is actually a real person just for a laugh.
Here’s another couple of statements by Jane;
“It makes me scared, angry and disappointed. I turned into an addict from weed and they are going to turn more people into me. Very sick people,” she said. ‘I needed it to survive. I did not care how it hurt other people. I did not care what it was doing to me.” Jane Doe
“This is my problem with legalizing weed — they are going to turn more people into addicts.”
Jane Doe said she’s proof that some people can become Banjopowerfully addicted to cannabis.
“Anything that you need in order to function is addictive,” she said.“I needed it to survive. I didn’t care how it hurt other people. I didn’t care what it was doing to me. That’s an addict.”
Okay, where do I start? The absolute rubbish some people try to peddle as fact cannot help but leave us sane folk baffled. ‘Needed it to survive’…huh? How? What would happen if she didn’t smoke a joint – would she die immediately or is ‘not surviving’ a slow process. Simply saying you ‘need something to survive’ does not mean you actually do. It sounds much like the complaints of a teenager and not something an adult would say. I’ll wager a bet and say that because she is now free from the devil’s weed, she did in fact survive, so the need was actually a want. She is confusing addiction with dependence. She did not care how she hurt other people. I don’t get it, how does smoking weed hurt anyone? Did she steal to get her pot? If she did, that makes her a thief, not an addict. There is no physical withdrawal from cannabis that would propel anyone to commit crimes to feed their ‘habit’. It ain’t heroin. Either she harmed no one, or she is using her cannabis use as a cover.
Now try to wrap your head around this one. She claims legalizing will turn more people into addicts. Canada has one of the highest per capita cannabis use rates, and Jane clearly had no problem finding enough to smoke while losing 200 pounds, so how will legalization change that? Everyone that wants to smoke a joint already does so. This Mark guy’s imaginary friend thinks we’re really stupid.
Here is where things get interesting. Jane claims cannabis used caused her to stop eating and she went from 300 lbs. Down to 104 lbs. As a nearly 40 year user of cannabis and being heavily involved in the culture, I have never heard anyone credit cannabis with weight loss. Most claim the opposite, blaming cannabis use as the reason they ate all 6 doughnuts in the box instead of just one. While her 300 lbs. would suggest she was addicted to eating more than anything, the new body is a much healthier weight and hardly a negative. It does bring me back to my nagging suspicions though.
“All I did all day long was smoke weed. I’m just as bad an addict as a cocaine addict, as a heroin addict, as an alcoholic.”
Although I have never used it, meth seems much more likely to cause weight loss and sleeplessness than cannabis that has the opposite effect on everybody else. Although it’s just my opinion, I stick to my original suspicion of Jane being a meth head, or a figment of Marks vivid imagination. Those are the only explanations to that ridiculous comment.
So how did Mark Quinn find this mystery subject who was willing to share her personal and very bizarre story to save the rest of us? What was her motivation? For that we are introduced to Jeff Bourne, the executive director of U-Turn addictions drop in centre. What is interesting is Mr. Bourne, who is a recovering cocaine addict, uses his own experiences and conditions to verify the claim of someone’s cannabis addiction.
“I have an addictive personality. So to me a drug is a drug, no matter if it is alcohol, marijuana or cocaine. It is all addictive. So if some people got an addictive personality, well they are going to get addicted.”
I donot know about you, but I have a real problem taking advice from someone who at one time lacked the willpower and moral strength to avoid becoming addicted himself. Alcohol, marijuana and cocaine are three very different drugs. The “a drug is a drug” statement is the biggest piece of bullshit in the story and for that very reason, nothing Mr. Bourne says holds any weight. Alcohol is a known killer, as is cocaine. Both cause serious health conditions and disease and death. Cannabis has no serious negative health effects and has never caused a single death. Saying they are the same is insane. Cocaine has been known to cause mental illness. Mr. Bourne was a coke addict. Hmmm. Why is it these stories of cannabis addiction are always connected to an addictions treatment program or facility? It comes off as paid advertisement rather than legitimate news.
So to try to legitimize this work of fiction, Mark interviews Wayne Bishop,”addictions prevention consultant” with Eastern Health. Mr Bishop agrees that cannabis can be addictive and cause psychological and physical discomfort when you stop using. Okay. The same can be said for everyday staples such as sugar and caffeine. Interestingly, he never mentions any risk of harms from use, just the possibility of “body sweats, pain and physical discomfort” from withdrawal. Again there are no studies cited, just the word of a guy who makes his living off of ‘addicts’. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and concede that it is possible for some people to experience these symptoms, but I have not in my 40 years of use. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing. No harm actually occurs from using or stopping the use of cannabis besides the risk of ‘body sweats’. Sounds a whole lot safer than a lot of products readily available at your corner store. For a comparison, please take a look at the charts I’ve included. Your morning cup of Timmies coffee is worse for your health and more addictive than cannabis. Withdrawal from caffeine is similar in effects to cannabis but many times as intense.
All things we consume provides some risk of dependence and some people are more susceptible to becoming dependent than others, but when you look at the risks associated with dependence on various substances, cannabis is clearly one of the safer choices. It is safer than booze, smokes, candy and coffee – yet it is being treated like nuclear waste by the uninformed. Maybe they’re drunk, but they are not making any sense.
This is the first of what will likely be many of my rebuttals of fictional ‘news stories’ spewing their fear-mongering ahead of July’s legalization. Stay tuned and stay healthy.