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View Diary: Legalize Pot? - I'm Not So Sure (71 comments)

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  •  it is a plant, with some medicinal uses and (9+ / 0-)


    Water, by your standards, is a drug. If you OD on it, you die. In fact, pot is far safer than alcohol, and has far fewer effects of side. For most people it LOWERS BP not raises it.

    My grams was dying of cancer. Her hospice nurse got her fixed up with pot, even though Illinois has no med marijuana law. Yet.  It made her last weeks and months far better, in terms of quality of life. Would you want that relief taken away, simply because you are afraid that your kids might enjoy a toke?

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 09:48:04 AM PDT

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    •  That's not really true. (1+ / 0-)
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      tung sol
      For most people it LOWERS BP not raises it.
      There's absolutely a dose dependent transient BP spike associated with cannabis intake.

      A lot of folks find that regular use is associated with a long-term decrease in average BP, but clinical data's still out.

      So, there's solid data saying it raises BP, at least transiently, and anecdote saying that it lowers BP, maybe, over time.

      Should point out that yer Gram's case would have been alleviated under medicalized marijuana, w/o legalized marijuana. Medicalized pot is no more "legal" than medicalized Oxycodone- they're legal for certain specific persona w/ illnesses, not for the general population.

      So I'm not sure that example works the way you meant it too.

    •  I have worked as a medicinal chemist and have... (0+ / 0-)

      ...been involved in pharmaceutical science, either as a bench scientist or as an executive, for almost all of my adult life.

      I know very well how things work.

      Both of my parents died - slowly - from cancer; my mother while she was quite young.   I was directly and closely responsible for her care; in fact, for her last six months of her life, it was all I did.    

      I know whence I speak, and actually don't need a lecture on the subject.

      I am not "afraid" that my kids will "enjoy" a toke.    They both have brains that are too fine for "enjoying" doing any such stupid thing.

      I have simply stated a simple fact.   Marijuana is not "good" for people.   It makes them into fools; and yes, I have seen that first hand as well.

      Now, there has been a lot of money thrown at studying cannabanoids and related compounds for various kinds of treatment, and blinded clinical trials show mixed results.

      Because of what I've seen, and what I know, I'm not a big fan of self medication.    With all due sympathy for your grandmother, I'm no fan of pot.


      •  Was Carl Sagan a fool? (10+ / 0-)

        Marijuana accentuates whatever is already present in a person. When innately foolish people smoke pot they become quite foolish. For others it helps create a zen-like mind space, for others it stimulates the imagination, for others it makes them lazy.

        Carl Sagan writes in 1969 as "Mr. X."

        Mr. X by Carl Sagan

        [This account was written in 1969 for publication in Marihuana Reconsidered (1971). Sagan was in his mid-thirties at that time. He continued to use cannabis for the rest of his life.]

        It all began about ten years ago. I had reached a considerably more relaxed period in my life – a time when I had come to feel that there was more to living than science, a time of awakening of my social consciousness and amiability, a time when I was open to new experiences.

        I had become friendly with a group of people who occasionally smoked cannabis, irregularly, but with evident pleasure. Initially I was unwilling to partake, but the apparent euphoria that cannabis produced and the fact that there was no physiological addiction to the plant eventually persuaded me to try. My initial experiences were entirely disappointing; there was no effect at all, and I began to entertain a variety of hypotheses about cannabis being a placebo which worked by expectation and hyperventilation rather than by chemistry.

        After about five or six unsuccessful attempts, however, it happened. I was lying on my back in a friend’s living room idly examining the pattern of shadows on the ceiling cast by a potted plant (not cannabis!). I suddenly realized that I was examining an intricately detailed miniature Volkswagen, distinctly outlined by the shadows. I was very skeptical at this perception, and tried to find inconsistencies between Volkswagens and what I viewed on the ceiling. But it was all there, down to hubcaps, license plate, chrome, and even the small handle used for opening the trunk.

        When I closed my eyes, I was stunned to find that there was a movie going on the inside of my eyelids. Flash . . . a simple country scene with red farmhouse, a blue sky, white clouds, yellow path meandering over green hills to the horizon. . . Flash . . . same scene, orange house, brown sky, red clouds, yellow path, violet fields . . . Flash . . . Flash . . . Flash. The flashes came about once a heartbeat. Each flash brought the same simple scene into view, but each time with a different set of colors . . . exquisitely deep hues, and astonishingly harmonious in their juxtaposition.

        Since then I have smoked occasionally and enjoyed it thoroughly. It amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects, as I will explain shortly.


        ["white space" added for readability.]

        There are many, many examples of people who have achieved a great deal while also being pot smokers. There are far more that we never hear about for the exactly the same reason that Sagan wrote this under a pseudonym - the fear that public disclosure of their pot smoking would put them at legal risk and/or damage their reputation as "serious adults."

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:32:21 AM PDT

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        •  I actually get quite tired of hearing this... (1+ / 0-)
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          Djano Reinhardt was a great guitarist despite having his 4th and 5th fingers badly burned and partially paralyzed.

          It does not follow that having one's fingers burned and paralyzed is a good approach to becoming a great guitarist.

          Sagan was a very popular scientist, which is not the same as saying he was the best scientist in the world.   He was respected, did some good work, but that is not the same as saying he reached his full potential.

          Joni Mitchell had a beautiful voice despite being a heavy smoker.   This does not mean that if one wishes to sing, one should smoke Marlboros.

          John Coltrane was a great jazz musician while he was a heroin addict and heavy drinker.   This does not recommend shooting up heroin to play jazz.   Coltrane quit heroin stopped drinking and became a better musician as a result.

          The Sagan argument is an example of poor thinking as all of the above examples demonstrate.    I have know a few pot smokers who have been functional despite their habit, but I have never met one who I felt realized his or her potential.    I have also known a great many - when I was younger, although I can't say I currently know anyone who smokes pot - who were total and complete fools, and I've known some who had not been fools, but became fools after they began smoking pot.

          •  None of the examples you gave have a thing to do (0+ / 0-)

            with smoking pot. You are starting with the premise that pot is bad for people's brain functioning, much like smoking cigarettes is bad for one's singing voice.  (And Joni's later albums certainly indicate that the years of tobacco did have a negative effect on her voice.) Just because Coltrane became a better player after kicking heroin and alcohol doesn't mean that the same would have been true if pot had been the substance in question - pot is not alcohol or heroin and its effects are very different from the effects of those drugs. Personally, a few years ago I tested 9 points higher on a comprehensive IQ test than my high school IQ testing. This despite 30 years of daily pot smoking. By your reasoning I should be a complete waste case after smoking all that pot, I certainly shouldn't be any smarter or more capable of complex reasoning.

            How do you know whether Sagan did or did not reach his full potential? You seem to be suggesting that he did not due to his pot smoking.  The point I was trying to get you to see is that just because someone smokes pot doesn't mean that it will make them a fool. If that were the case then it should be true in most if not all instances. It is not.

            Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

            by kbman on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 06:31:51 PM PDT

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            •  Look. I didn't know - and don't care about - (1+ / 0-)
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              You, and every other defender of the "pot is harmless" nonsense frequently appeal to him as an arbiter of the ridiculous assertion that pot has marginal or no effects on one's intellect.  

              That pretty much defines my main reason for ever discussing the guy, and trust me, science is definitely one of my passions.

              I have passing familiarity with his scientific work, but he is certainly not one of the more important scientists of the 20th century.   He was pretty good on television, despite getting stuck on repeating the word "billions" from what I hear, and good at the popular gesture, but was a truly great or important figure?  


              His search for spacemen, I note, didn't turn out all that well.

              You criticize, with some validity, that I don't know what Sagan's potential was.    However we might turn this argument on its head.  Do you have information that Sagan reached his full potential?   Are you a Sagan family member?   A personal friend?   His ex-girlfriend's cousin's uncle's neighbor's dog sitter?

              I am merely suggesting that it seems not only possible, but likely, that he was not, um, "all that he could be," but I am not claiming that I knew him, or his ex-girlfriend's cousin's uncle's neighbor's dog sitter.   This suspicion that he may not have reached his full potential on my part based on the long experience of my life with other people who I personally did know and observe.    I stand by the claim that they were, in general, fools.

              I had a friend in high school who could get "A's" on calculus tests while drunk, and sometimes, for that matter, stoned.   He was dead before he hit thirty.   He was a fool, especially when one realizes how he wasted his fine mind.

              As for Sagan, he was, frankly, from what I can tell, more like a rock star than a scientist of critical import, but no matter.

              To the extent that he promoted pot - which seems to be in your view, an important legacy - he was, in my view, a fool.

              There are millions of scientists who do good and important work - much of it of far greater import than anything Sagan did - who don't smoke pot.

              There are also impressionable people who might be encouraged to use pot because of silly rhetoric about a moderately famous scientist - no Seaborg, no Gell-Mann, no Fermi, no Bohr, mind you - who smoked pot and became famous, not necessarily for scientific originality, but for the ability to address popular audiences in such a way as to provide decent television ratings.

              Big deal.

              Is that all you got?

              You seem to have failed to grasp what I was saying by the examples I gave.   You are providing an example of a person who took a drug - and still managed to achieve something, no matter how marginal.   I have merely provided similar examples that could be made for any dangerous drug as being benign and asserted that any such claim is an attempt, a weak attempt to cite a specific example and thus claim a general rule.   To my mind, Coltrane was much more seminal to American culture than Sagan ever was, but no, that doesn't imply that if I want my kid to play great saxophone, I'll buy him a syringe and drive him to a bad neighborhood to meet new and interesting people who can sell him white powders.

              I regard pot as a dangerous drug inasmuch as it degrades ones intellect, this claim based on my personal experience.   There may be, there certainly are, worse drugs that are more dangerous than pot, but the existence of these drugs does not render pot benign, nor does it make pot use desirable or useful.

              None of my arguments mean that I approve of the drug "war" or even drug laws or drug prison sentences.   I have merely objected - and nothing in this conversation serves to dissuade me - to the claim that drugs  used for self medication are, um, "good for people."

              If you wish to assert that drugs used for self medication are good for people, whether tobacco, heroin, alcohol, pot, ...,whatever, then, in my view, you are being a fool.

              Have a nice Sunday.  

              •  you actually (1+ / 0-)
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                Tried to reason with him? Wow. Kudos.
                Great comment.

                We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear. Robert Louis Stevenson

                by Christin on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:09:41 PM PDT

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              •  There are these things in life called distinctions (0+ / 0-)

                There are many, many attributes which distinguish pot from alcohol, from heroin, from tobacco. For you to lump them together as you do is simply a reflection of your blindness on this issue.

                Here's one distinction - mortality ...

                Alcohol linked to 75,000 US deaths a year.

                "Alcohol abuse kills some 75,000 Americans each year and shortens the lives of these people by an average of 30 years, a U.S. government study suggested Thursday.

                Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States after tobacco use and poor eating and exercise habits."


                CDC Fact Sheet - Tobacco related mortality

                "Cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year.1,6 Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:1

                    443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
                    49,400 deaths per year from secondhand smoke exposure"


                Heroin / Opioids

                "There can be no doubt, however, that fatal opioid overdose, long a chronic health problem in the United States, is now a rapidly growing one.71 National surveillance data suggest that almost 83,000 Americans died from this form of overdose between 1999 to 2005, with over 16,000 fatalities in 2005 alone.72 Opioid overdose death has seen a sharp increase over the last decade, especially in the category of overdose from prescription medications.73 Because of gaps in the surveillance system, the actual figure is likely to be substantially higher."


                Marijuana [pdf warning]

                From a study at OREGON.GOV looking at data covering 1997-2005, marijuana as cause of death - ZERO, marijuana as contributing to death 279 - an average of 35 per year.


                Another distinction - personal safety

                For some reason, people who have recently smoked pot - within the previous 6 hours in one study - end up in the emergency room only about 1/3 as often as sober people. By contrast, people who have consumed alcohol in that same time frame are 3 times as likely to end up in the ER. This relationship has been found to be dose-dependent, and has been observed in three different studies which set out to prove the opposite.


                Another distinction - protective effects

                While I'm not familiar with any reported protective effects from the use of tobacco, alcohol, or heroin, I'm willing to keep an open mind on the topic.

                Regarding marijuana ...

                Marijuana may help to delay Alzheimers symptoms

                "As marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory effects, researchers from Ohio State University predicted a link to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, which is associated with chronic inflammation.

                According to researcher Gary Wenk, Ph.D., “inflammation in the brain is part of aging. It happens to almost all of us. But in some cases, this inflammation gets out of hand and causes serious damage.”

                The team gave WIN-55212-2, a synthetic drug similar to marijuana, to rats and found it improved memory and helped to control inflammation both in young and old animals. However, it could still trigger a high, so the team are trying to find a compound that isn’t psychoactive. The findings were presented at October’s annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Atlanta.

                There is some evidence to suggest that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer’s disease, but Wenk does not recommend that Alzheimer’s patients start using marijuana. "

                Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol

                " Our results indicate that cannabidiol exerts a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic effects against beta-amyloid peptide toxicity, and that inhibition of caspase 3 appearance from its inactive precursor, pro-caspase 3, by cannabidiol is involved in the signalling pathway for this neuroprotection."


                There are many other factors which distinguish these substances as well. People high on pot don't lose their coordination like sloppy drunks, they don't zone off into their own space like heroin junkies, they simply relax more and feel a shift in consciousness. Many pot users find that caffeine is a nice complementary drug - helping them to not relax TOO much. I found this combination provided an optimum head-space for writing term papers and computer programs - things which I did exceptionally well.

                I feel badly for you. I know you well enough from your writings to know how intensely serious you are about things you consider important. I greatly admire this intensity in you. I also know how you adore your kids, something else you've written about often enough. And the odds are that at least one of them will try pot. One or more may even become regular users. You have far less control over this than you believe. Intellectual curiosity quite often trumps authoritarian admonitions. Plus, rebelling against parental authority is as old a story as you will find. And what better issue to rebel against than one that the old man is outspokenly righteous about? And here's the saddest part, if/when it happens it will only be a big deal in your mind. You needn't be "shattered". It's not the end of the world if this happens. Really, I promise you.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:10:31 PM PDT

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              •  Oh, and BTW (0+ / 0-)

                Those millions of scientists you claim don't smoke pot? Of the physics, chemistry and biology majors in my time at college, roughly half of them were pot smokers. Several of the engineering majors smoked pot as well. One chem major I knew carried a 4.0 while smoking more than most potheads at school. It sounds corny, but it really was fun to be in a stoned discussion regarding the physical manifestations related to a partial differential equation which described drum head dynamics, edge effects, tension effects, location/duration/energy of the impulse, etc.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:53:38 PM PDT

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            •  lol (1+ / 0-)
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              Such utter ignorance and utter nonsense.
              Surreal ignorance like no other. Lol!!!!!

              We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear. Robert Louis Stevenson

              by Christin on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:07:51 PM PDT

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      •  Turns who into fools? (6+ / 0-)

        I happen to know many, many "potheads" who have never turned into fools and also all of them, each and every single one, is a wildly regarded professional of one sort or another. I would say my sample is indeed large enough to destroy any such suggestion, that it makes people into fools.

        •  Me too (1+ / 0-)
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          With out two of them who smoked almost nightly at times to relieve their stress we wouldn't be typing here today. They both played a large role in developing our modern computer operating systems.

          It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

          by PSWaterspirit on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:15:52 PM PDT

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      •  You're painting with a very large brush. (5+ / 0-)
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        bobsc, susanala, tung sol, grollen, kbman

        I'm 65 years old and have smoked a joint a day for the last 47 years. Managed to have a career, buy my own home(which will be paid for in 5 years). Retired now and enjoying my "golden years". Stating that "marijuana is not good for people" is just plain stupid and not based on science.  You're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

        "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." -B. Dylan

        by S F Hippie on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:06:58 PM PDT

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