Legalization of weed
Weed has just become legalized in Canada, and that’s a great thing in my opinion. To be honest, pot smoking is extremely common despite criminalization. About 10% of Americans report having smoked weed. If this weed was sold legally, imagine the tax revenue that could be generated!
I live in Berlin, Germany, a city with enormous drug use and also much drug-related suffering. I am convinced that the people suffering the most would find an enormous relief should drugs be decriminalized. The “war on drugs” has failed and it is time for a new strategy. To me, the critical part is to maximize happiness in a society. I don’t have moral issues with drugs, and if decriminalization
Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001 and has since seen HIV infection rates and has sent drug-related deaths plummeting.
A legalization/decriminalization also doesn’t mean that “everything must be allowed.” Just as we have in place for alcohol, there can be legal limits in place that you are not allowed to surpass when driving, etc. There can also still be age limits for purchasing.
I’m not saying that it is
But, that’s not what I wanted to focus on in this article…
Weed, the miracle cure: Bullshit pro-legalization campaigns
There are, however, a few things that bother me about many of the pro-legalization campaigns. The main argument that makes me go through the roof is the medical miracle claims: “Weed, the miracle cure, curing anything ranging from cancer to AIDS.” Seriously, guys!? Come on!
Why isn’t it enough to just say:
“I like getting stoned.”
Why is it necessary to make shit up? Can’t you just simply admit that you like the feeling of getting high?
Ridiculous medical claims like these results in this issue not being taken seriously.
Real medical benefits
There are some real medical benefits of a few of the components found in weed, particularly CBD (cannabidiol) which seems to reduce pain. This could be a huge blessing for people living with severe pain conditions and chronic pain. Legalization will enable further research into this. I’m all for that!
Some studies have indeed shown that THC and CBD slow the growth, and even kill cancer cells in lab dishes. In lab dishes! I would like to remind you that so does bleach or a handgun fired at the dish. Still, I would not like to try bleach or a handgun when treating cancer in a live person.
Often, lab-dish-studies are used by quacks and con-artists to prove that their compounds and concoctions kill cancer cells. However, we should never make assumptions from such studies directly on living systems. It could end fatally. It is also not how science works. Lab-dish-studies have their merits, but not in this way.
The part that saddens me the most is that compounds like CBD and THC could well have a role in cancer treatment – reducing pain and increasing appetite and wellbeing. However, as a complement to radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery. Once patients go off their treatments in favor of just CBD and THC, things might turn ugly and people might die.
This is an awesome video from ASAP Science showing the difference between CBD and THC (the molecule that makes you high):
I personally don’t smoke as I get paranoid and feel shit when I do. It just isn’t my cup of tea. I’m more of a chardonnay-kind of person, but I would never ever justify my alcohol-consumption with enthusiastic claims of treating AIDS.
Let’s talk legalization, but let’s do it seriously and not mix in a bunch of pseudosciences and woo.
Meanwhile, I wish Canada all the best and am looking forward to seeing the data in a year or so. That data will either support or go against my current opinion. Since I’m a scientist, I will change my mind if presented with data that conflicts with my world-view. It can be a painful process, but it’s the responsible thing to do.