Given the pervasive movement to legalize pot, I thought the timing prudent to give some advice to young white men and women on this subject. Rather than preaching from on high, I want to give data-driven and scientifically backed advice you are unlikely to hear anywhere else.
Look, if the same controlled media that lies to you about your impending displacement also favors pot legalization, it’s probably not something you should rush into.
Legal vs Illegal
It is never smart to use an illegal drug. Down in Mexico they practically have a war going on, and at the highest levels of pot distribution people actually get killed left and right. It is stupid to expect that people who value human life so little should be supplying something you put into your body. Sometimes there are adulterants, but of greater concern is that sometimes there are undetected molds and bacteria. But even if it is perfectly okay, when it is illegal you are paying money that eventually gets in the hands of people who think nothing of killing innocent women and children. Pot is not exactly essential – so its not worth making murderers rich over.
But separate from that, legal vs illegal doesn’t mean anything in terms of safe vs unsafe. Lots of legal drugs and substances are unsafe. Whether it is prescription drugs that get recalled later after people die, or commonplace alcohol and tobacco – people die from these things even though they are legal. Making pot legal would likely make sure it was more free from additives, but it wouldn’t make it any more or less safe.
So is nux vomica, the plant strychnine is made from, or hemlock which was used to execute Socrates. The fact that something is natural doesn’t make it safe.
More importantly, natural substances can be really complicated in that they contain a lot of different drugs, all of which have different effects. The jimson weed that grows in our pasture contains atropine (used for dilating eyes, counteracting strychnine and protecting against nerve gas) but also scopalamine used to erase memory for rapes, and hyoscamine used to dry up mucus secretions.
Pot has a lot of different drugs in it, not just THC, and most of them have not been as studied as other drugs. We generally know most of the effects anecdotally, but there are not a lot of studies – so we really don’t know.
A lot of plants are toxic in their natural state, such as castor beans or manioc root, but can be processed into safe and useful substances such as castor oil and tapioca starch. Even though these things are natural and legal, I wouldn’t recommend eating or smoking them in their natural state unless you want to die.
Pot doesn’t have a track record of instantly killing people … but what do we know about its effects?
I once met a girl for a date who had recently gotten out of a mental hospital. She told me straight out that she had wound up in the hospital from using too much pot. I thought she was full of crap, because who has ever heard that pot can literally put you in a mental hospital?
But I dug into it. Sure enough, there is a certain gene called AKT-1 that can take one of three forms (TT, CT, CC) and if someone has the CC form of the gene, using marijuana makes it 700% more likely they will develop a seriously life-altering psychosis like schizophrenia.(1)
There is another gene, that codes for something called COMT, that also comes in three forms (VV, MT, MM) and if someone has the MM form, if they used pot as a teenager, their odds of developing a serious psychosis as an adult are more than 400% higher than if they had never used pot. (2)
Right now there are no affordable tests to tell you whether you have the CC form of the AKT-1 gene or the MM form of the COMT gene. And there are a lot of genes we still don’t even know about. So by using pot, you are taking a big risk of hurting your mental health permanently … permanently destroying your chances to lead a normal life. A lot of people take that risk and they come out okay. Would you?
There’s no way to know unless you tried it. But here’s the problem: if you roll the dice and lose on this, you have only one life and there is no ability to press reset and try again with a better choice. You’ll be stuck with the adverse results for the rest of your life. None of your dreams will happen if you roll the dice and lose.
I bet nobody who ever pushed for pot legalization ever brought those studies to the attention of the public. Why not? Whether it is legal or not, shouldn’t we know about this possibility in order to make an informed choice about whether or not to use it?
Using pot hurts your short term memory. (3) It can hurt your ability to form new memories – to learn new things – for as long as seven days after last use! This is a competitive world and if you are white the deck is already stacked against you. And if you are male, it is doubly stacked. Any opportunities you get will require you to be twice as good as the competition. Is there anything that pot could possibly give you that would be so positive that it would be worth missing scholarship opportunities because some other kid had a .1 higher GPA because you were smoking pot?
Using pot hurts your motor control. (4) I read a lot about it and it seems less harmful than alcohol because people who smoke pot are very aware that they are compromised and can compensate by driving slower and taking fewer risks. But still, it can mess up your motor control for 6 hours or more! I guess that’s okay if you know that for the next few hours you won’t have to drive and you won’t trip on the stairs or the fire alarm won’t go off in the house or anything. But again, since hundreds of people die every year in car wrecks where they had pot in their system, why should you increase your risk? What if you just smoked some pot and then a friend calls and he really needs you to come over? Should you turn over important things in your life to this stuff?
Though it is considered “controversial” a lot of people have observed an amotivational syndrome in people who have used pot for a long time. Basically, they are unmotivated. The controversy comes from a lack of trials, but the repeated observation of hundreds of people over a period of decades is pretty clear that long-term users of pot are less accomplished in practically every way than their peers.
Granted, this is not a very likely outcome from using it just once. But most people I know who use pot, hang out with other people who use pot, and it is sort of used as a social bonding thing. So it seems that using pot comes along with a certain batch of friends and certain rituals and expectations that would make it more likely to use it repeatedly.
This is a tough world. Its a competitive world. Do you want to be a worker bee always complaining about how unfair the world is? Or do you want to be the boss?
You should want to be the boss.
Use of marijuana hurts the brain’s ability to respond to dopamine. Not only does that make it hard to get motivated, it also blunts emotional responses overall and makes chronic users seem depressed. (5) Even worse, with long-term use, the ability of the brain to make dopamine at all is compromised. (6) This is what causes the amotivational syndrome, and it is a proven fact – not really controversial except to partisans who want to ignore the facts.
Birds of a feather flock together. Drinkers usually marry people who also drink, pot smokers tend to marry people who also smoke pot. Do you want a girl who smokes pot as the mother of your kids? Because if you are a pot smoker, your choice of women will mostly be limited to girls who also smoke pot.
Kids have no choice about being born. Its our job to give them the best possible chance. Does a mother who smokes pot hurt kids?
Okay, its a game of odds. Some women are probably smoking pot right in the delivery room and their kids are okay. But when pregnant women use pot, the THC reduces the number of connections in the baby’s cerebral cortex, which can cause a relative cognitive deficit for life. (7)
So what if she decides to quit smoking pot before getting pregnant? Still no dice.
When a woman smokes pot, even if she has quit several years before becoming pregnant, it can make it more likely that her kids will become opiate abusers. (8) I can’t prove it, but the recent spike in heroin use may be a result of a bunch of girls who thought smoking pot was harmless in high school … and the kids they had later are now coming of age.
It can also compromise the immune system of babies. (9)
Starting off a kid in life with so many strikes against it, when that can be easily avoided seems like legal child abuse to me.
So no, you really wouldn’t want to marry a girl who smokes pot, and you should be pretty concerned even if she quit several years ago. And if you don’t want to limit your options to just those kinds of girls, you shouldn’t be a pot smoker.
In some places, like the Miracle Gro company, they test their employees for nicotine and fire them if it is in their system. Even though tobacco is legal. And courts have upheld their right to do this.
Employers in a lot of industries require a drug test at least before getting the job, and a lot of them require periodic random drug tests while employed.
I have overheard so many conversations where people gave up opportunities when they learned a drug test was involved, because they knew they wouldn’t pass it. Most recently, I heard a kid say he had to give up a full-paid 4-year ROTC scholarship worth at least $150,000 when he got the notice in the mail that he had to show up for a “DODMERB” physical in two weeks that included a drug test. He knew he wouldn’t be clean in time because pot lasts so long in your system.
Can you imagine that? He gave up $150,000, a commission in the military and the ability to retire with a full pension at 50 when so many people end up eating cat food when they retire … and he gave it all up for a joint. What could he possibly have received from pot that was so valuable it was worth giving all that up?
I can’t in good conscience recommend that you join the military these days when it is so evidently misused and you could easily end up sacrificing your life for someone else greed or the greater glory of a foreign state. But even at that, there are so many opportunities that can come at unpredictable times that will be lost if you can’t be certain of passing a drug test. Do you want to wash dishes in a restaurant for the rest of your life?
Your physical health
Pot has some nasty effects on men. It screws up testosterone levels and lowers them. (10) You have a hard enough time as it is, do you really want to chemically castrate yourself? I also know girls prefer guys who are taller than them, and pot use can also hurt growth hormone. (11) In general, and in social situations, pot is usually smoked. The fact that carcinogens are present in pot smoke is not disputed. What is lacking are the sort of long-term direct-link studies that were done on tobacco. But do you want to be a guinea pig for this when it already seems obviously harmful?
The Social Landscape
Cold reality is that as much as we might admire our parents, everyone knows that peers are usually more important in our decisions than our parents. And I have to tell you that even kids who have never used pot claim to use pot just to fit in. That makes it really tough.
On top of this, teens really want to spread their wings and gain some independence, make some decisions for themselves instead of just doing what their parents say.
Maybe you wouldn’t consider yourself rebellious and you don’t have blue hair or a bone in your nose. But at the same time, you really want to be yourself instead of just a reflection of your parent’s opinions.
Obviously, deciding to use pot is something where you would have instant acceptance from peers who also use pot, most teachers these days wouldn’t care. Heck, they tend to be so leftist, they’d probably praise it.
But at the same time, your peers don’t have to live with your decisions: you do. If you use pot and end up on anti-psychotic medication with a bunch of opportunities taken away for the rest of your life, they won’t save you from that. If you end up missing a great scholarship or a great job, that’s no skin off their noses. If all of that takes away from you being able to have the girl of your dreams, that’s not their problem either.
You have to do what is TRULY in your own best interests.
There are plenty of positive ways to define yourself in your own terms and strike your own path, to overcome childhood and become a worthy man or woman. And such things should be your priority, rather than impressing people who, I guarantee you, won’t be there for you when you really need them in a decade.
(1) Di Forti et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2012
(2) Caspi et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2005
(3) Miller LL, McFarland D, Cornett TL, Brightwell D. Marijuana and memory impairment: effect on free recall and recognition memory. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1977 Aug;7(2):99-103. PubMed PMID: 918141.
(4) Asbridge M, Mann R, Cusimano MD, Trayling C, Roerecke M, Tallon JM, Whipp A, Rehm J. Cannabis and traffic collision risk: findings from a case-crossover study of injured drivers presenting to emergency departments. Int J Public Health. 2014 Apr;59(2):395-404. doi: 10.1007/s00038-013-0512-z. Epub 2013 Sep 24. PubMed PMID: 24061594.
(5) Nora D. Volkow, Gene-Jack Wang, Frank Telang, Joanna S. Fowler, David Alexoff, Jean Logan, Millard Jayne, Christopher Wong, and Dardo Tomasi, Decreased dopamine brain reactivity in marijuana abusers is associated with negative emotionality and addiction severity 2014 111 (30) E3149-E3156; published ahead of print July 14, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1411228111
(6) Bloomfield MA, Morgan CJ, Egerton A, Kapur S, Curran HV, Howes OD. Dopaminergic function in cannabis users and its relationship to cannabis-induced psychotic symptoms. Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Mar 15;75(6):470-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.05.027. Epub 2013 Jun 29. PubMed PMID: 23820822.
(7) Wu, Chia-Shan, Christopher P Jew, and Hui-Chen Lu. “Lasting Impacts of Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and the Role of Endogenous Cannabinoids in the Developing Brain.” Future neurology 6.4 (2011): 459–480. Print.
(8) Henrietta Szutorisz, Jennifer A DiNieri, Eric Sweet, Gabor Egervari, Michael Michaelides, Jenna M Carter, Yanhua Ren, Michael L Miller, Robert D Blitzer and Yasmin L Hurd, Parental THC Exposure Leads to Compulsive Heroin-Seeking and Altered Striatal Synaptic Plasticity in the Subsequent Generation, Neuropsychopharmacology (2014) 39, 1315–1323; doi:10.1038/npp.2013.352; published online 22 January 2014
(9) Zumbrun EE, Sido JM, Nagarkatti PS, Nagarkatti M. Epigenetic Regulation ofImmunological Alterations Following Prenatal Exposure to Marijuana Cannabinoids and its Long Term Consequences in Offspring. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 Jun;10(2):245-54. doi: 10.1007/s11481-015-9586-0. Epub 2015 Jan 25. PubMed PMID: 25618446; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4470789.
(10) Harclerode J. Endocrine effects of marijuana in the male: preclinical studies. NIDA Res Monogr. 1984;44:46–64.
(11) Brown TT, Dobs AS. Endocrine effects of marijuana. J Clin Pharmacol. 2002;42:90S–96S.