Encouraging alternatives to marijuana

So again we return to the whole marijuana crackdown debate.  We’ve already
covered facts,
fiction and a bit of history
behind the drug and it’s prohibition along with
a discussion
on its implications on crime and gang activities
, so there’s no need to
rehash those arguments here.  What we can cover is a bit on the psychological
addiction of marijuana, the implications that our policy and stance against it have on our society and ultimately the reasons why we should be focusing on encouraging alternatives rather than removing them.

Marijuana has not been proven to be physically addictive but has been shown
to be psychologically addictive.  To understand the implications of
psychological addiction one only needs to look around in our society.  Fatty
food and fine sugars are not considered physically addictive and yet the effects
of psychological addiction are readily apparent when one simply looks at our
society’s extreme prevalence of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  Quitting a
long time habit of overindulgence is about as easy as quitting smoking
cigarettes.  It isn’t something that happens overnight but instead is a grueling
and arduous process of commitment to an ideal, self restraint and will power. 
Usually it can’t be done without help and fighting relapse is a lifelong
struggle if you don’t maintain a healthy active lifestyle.  In moderation fatty
food and fine sugars can be a nice treat but in excess they can be one of our
worst enemies.  Similar moderation is essential in all facets in life.

Fatty food and fine sugars are damaging to and represent a considerable tax
on our society and yet we leave people to their own devices, free to abuse
them.  Why?  How would society react if we were to enact laws against sugar and
fatty food consumption?  If tasty meals and deserts were restricted?  If we were to enact regular testing denying jobs and access to activities on the basis of blood sugar and cholesterol levels?  Certainly it would be better for our health but
ultimately it would rope in so many victims of psychological addiction that we’d
simply further balloon our prison population with people barely capable of
helping themselves stay away from it.  These individuals wouldn’t simply wake up
one day, realize it’s illegal and never touch another powered donut.  The
temptation is simply too great if you use food as a crutch to help yourself
manage through life.  Marijuana is little different.  In moderation it can be as
unhealthy as those fatty foods and fine sugars and yet in excess it can be just like those foods in that it can be a debilitating crutch that keeps people from living a healthy and productive
life.  You can’t simply say today we’re cracking down and expect every user to
readily stop using, it just doesn’t work like that.

Despite the well known wide prevalence of marijuana use in our society we
seem to think that our approach can be different, that use can be turned off like a light switch.  We seem to believe that keeping it illegal and cracking down heavily is the answer and that people will kick their habit just like that.  Nothing in
life is that easy and yet we keep acting like it is.  There is a great crusade
of anti-marijuana campaigners out there who aim to ensure that you can’t have a
steady job, you can’t get involved in sports, you can’t have a life if you
partake in marijuana smoking.  It is a sure fire lose-lose approach.  Imagine if
tomorrow we made fine sugars and fatty foods illegal and embarked on a similar
campaign.  Guaranteed a large segment of our society would not only avoid
giving up their habit, they would fall deeper into it for lack of alternatives
to using.  Why do we think marijuana is any different than these unhealthy
foods?

Saying that because someone uses marijuana they can’t partake in local sports
robs them of legitimate alternatives to lighting up.  We need to be focusing
on encouraging abusers to seek healthy alternatives rather
than advocating that there is no alternative.  Similarly with the crackdown on
job opportunities.  By unnecessarily enforcing drug testing and ensuring that marijuana smokers cannot obtain steady
jobs we guarantee that a large segment are pushed further and further into a
life of crime.  Again, imagine if we did this for fatty foods and sugars.  What
do you honestly believe would happen if tomorrow people were banned from
sports and holding steady jobs if their blood sugar and cholesterol counts were
too high?   Do you honestly believe the now jobless and alternative restricted
over indulgers are going to suddenly drop their crutch and stop eating the wrong
foods?  Is it more likely they’d only end up more likely to lean on their crutch
to get through these rougher times?

Our approach to combating over indulgence of unhealthy foods is to test
regularly as a guideline rather than a rule, advise of the risks, educate and work together to encourage people to
choose a more healthy and active lifestyle.  Perhaps it is not successful in all
cases but gradually through various community programs, education initiatives
and genuine commitment by our society to improve our health we’re seeing better
results as we understand the implications of an unhealthy lifestyle and addiction to unhealthy eating.  Is this
approach a better alternative to criminalizing all sweets and fatty foods to save people from themselves?  If so, why do we feel it is necessary to take two different approaches with similar forms of substance abuse?    Perhaps it’s
time we rethink our approach and devise more ways to encourage people to choose a healthier and more active lifestyle rather than ensure that they don't have a choice.

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2 thoughts on “Encouraging alternatives to marijuana

  1. I got lost in your mAZE THERE Dennis.
    ugar is legal. Ganja is not. I read similar 30 years ago…Heroin and potato chips.
    Oh well………..

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