Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This just in: Being a "stoner" can be bad for you

You'll be glad to know that the federal government has just completed another useless study that wasted our tax dollars. According to Reuters, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has conducted a study finding that heavy marijuana use could possibly raise a person's stroke or heart attack risk by increasing the blood levels of a protein known as apolipoprotein CIII. The researchers didn't actually check whether the subjects had heart disease, and when they're talking about heavy marijuana use, they're not kidding. The marijuana users involved in the study smoked anywhere from 78 to 350 joints per week. That's an average of at least 11 joints a day. Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, which favors legal sales and regulation of the drug, had this to say: "We're talking about people who are stoned all the time. We're talking about the marijuana equivalent of the guy in the alley clutching a bottle of cheap wine. If you do anything to that level of excess, it might well have some untoward effects, whether it's marijuana or wine or broccoli." I could have saved the National Institute on Drug Abuse a lot of time and money by telling them that sucking hot smoke into your body, whether via a cigarette, joint or rolled-up cornsilk, is not good for you. But, of course, we will continue to squander billions and billions of dollars every year on a failed "War on Drugs." How about a war on government waste and stupidity?



Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

I don't get it. I wrote a story a few years back about the government's renewed interest in getting kids off "the pot." Although statistically, it is the most-used drug by kids, it seems to me it's heroin (and its synthetic counterparts), prescription drugs and crack that are destroying so many young lives. I'm not saying, "Smoke 11 joints a day, everyday. It's cool. It's not heroin" I do wish the government would address what so many people are suffering from in one of its studies: How do you keep kids from getting hooked on the stuff that's actually killing them?

May 13, 2008 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Scott Beveridge said...

The art of declaring war on drugs is an overused metaphor to win votes.

May 13, 2008 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amanda: I don't consider the government the agency to get kids off drugs, albeit "pot," heroin, or any other drugs. Scott's comment about "war on drugs" is right. It is simple political rhetoric, and has little, if any, impact (at least in my opinion). We have all heard the "education" mantra for years and years. The same is true for illicit sexual behavior with regard to STDs. If I recall, a recent report showed one-quarter of girls under 18 (16?) are carrying an STD. In some socio-economic groups, the rate is much higher.

My point is the change will only come from within the individuals. All the so-called education will have little to do with behavior change. Our culture is becoming a true bunch of druggies. And, some of it starts with the over-prescription practices of the medical industry. But, the primary matter has to do with the self, that is self-respect, self-dignity, self-control, self- (.....). The inner needs are not being met through family, through spiritual perspectives, and a disregard for the value of human lives. Drugs are apparently (never been down that route myself) considered an escape, or an a journey to provide the missing elements of day-to-day living. The lack of satisfaction and the lack of respect for themselves is the hole that drugs are filling -- or rather a vain attempt.

I admit that I don't understand it, but "at 50 paces," I am deeply concerned about the downturn of our nation, inward imploding. I fear one of our biggest fears for failure and destruction will not come from without, but from within. Drugs enables far too many people to add to the issue.

On another side, I also fear that much of the drug money is flowing to those who are funding their destructive plans against us. How do the war lords in Afghanistan get funded? Through the sale of poppy seeds -- undoubtedly money coming from our local neighborhoods. This is but one of many examples of our enemies being funded by the drug money being sent abroad. Perhaps others have hard statistics to reinforce my assertion. I'm not smart enough to find all the details myself.

We need to wake up and not rely on the government to supply the answers to these matters. The answers lie within the hearts and minds of our citizens.

P.S. I usually post under "Roger" handle, but cannot get the name/password/"mixed letters" to work this morning. Why? I don't know, but don't have time to sort it out.

May 14, 2008 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Good to hear from you again, Roger, and, as always, well said. I suspect the "street drugs" will always be a problem among a certain percentage of our society. I really have no problem with someone who wants to wind down in the evening with a joint. It's not my thing, but I'd sure rather be driving in the opposite direction from someone who smoked a little weed than a guy or girl who had downed eight or 10 beers. What really worries me is the prescription drug addiction epidemic. I take one pill for a minor, chronic stomach condition and treat my sinus problems with the occasional over-the-counter pill, but I'm highly reluctant to take anything stronger. And, as I said before, I would do anything to avoid taking some of those arthritis or blood pressure drugs that seem to have more severe side-effects than what they're trying to treat. We actually had a story in the paper today saying that more than half of our populace is on prescription drugs. But it's the high-test painkillers that are the real problem. I think they're being prescribed waaaaaaay too often by our doctors, and clearly they are ruining lives, whether it be the lives of those who were prescribed the drugs or those who obtain them by illicit means.

May 14, 2008 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Interesting topic. I can see it from a variety of sides. Although I haven't smoked pot for more than twenty years, back in the day I was a heavy user at about an ounce per week. I don't know the breakdown in joints or bong hits, but let's just say that for a period of about three years, I wouldn't leave the house without having smoked a little weed.

Now I'm clean, but I'm on prescription blood pressure medication. I need it because I don't want to die. But I'm like Brant in that I won't take even an over-the-counter analgesic unless I absolutely have to.

I'm also a parent and a taxpayer. I don't want my children using drugs, although my 18-year-old son smokes pot. Why shouldn't he? His mother does. As a taxpayer, it irritates me to no end that my tax money is pissed away at these silly programs to stop people from using drugs.

Quite simply, there is NO way to win the "war on drugs." Why? Money. There's just too much money to be made on both sides of the law. The DEA must be one of the most bloated bureaucracies in the federal government. Do you think the people who work for the DEA really and truly want to eradicate drug traffic and lose their government jobs with all those great benefits? Hell no!

A teen can make minimum wage at McDonald's or any other paper hat type of job and that's fine. I did it when I was a teen. He might bring home $150 per week. What about the teen dealing crack and weed on the street corner? He can pull in that kind of money in a matter of hours. Tax free. No paper hat. No uniform.

It's not the government's job to tell us that pot isn't the best choice. I too don't care if someone burns a joint after work. I too would rather encounter that person out on the road than a drunk. But it is the parent's responsibility to teach their children not to use drugs (see above reference to my son). Yes, my children know that I was a stoner. I also told them repeatedly that my drug use led me to make some horribly stupid and irresponsible choices in my life. Pot isn't for me; I don't trust myself with it. It's a fairly benign drug but the big threat, in my opinion, is that it takes away one's ambition.

I hate the way money is just flushed down the toilet. We send billions of dollars to Africa to educate them about AIDS. It shouldn't take a billion dollars to say, "Wear a condom or you will die." If people would just take some damn personal responsibility for their actions, and particularly those of their children, the world would be much better off.

May 14, 2008 at 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priguy! The only thing I disagree with you on is the economics of drug sales. This topic got a pretty good treatment in either Freakonomics of Freedomnomics... I can't remember which one... but basically, street corner crack sales is the income equivalent to working for minimum wage at McDonalds. There is not a lot of money in it for the dealers. It is simply an industry that these kids feel more comfortable in their ability to advance up the "corporate ladder."


May 14, 2008 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

Obviously, parents aren't doing their jobs. I agree that's where change should happen. But we don't live in a perfect world. The "war on drugs" is political rhetoric, but the drug problem is quite real. I'm simply saying that IF government is going to throw it's hat in the ring and try to do something to help stem the problem, I'd think the money would be better used to sort out the drug problems that are killing so many young people.
PS - If the "war on drugs" is an overused metaphor, can't the same be said about "war on terror?"

May 14, 2008 at 6:35 PM  
OpenID bessmeredith said...

If you stopped at the National Institute on Drug Abuse during this enlightening study, I think you'd find empty bags of Doritos and a table full of red-eyed goons with the munchies.

May 14, 2008 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generally, a war on any intangible thing fits that description... war on poverty, war on terror, war on drugs... Let's right these wrongs and just have a war on canada!


May 14, 2008 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Anonymous Ellipses...thank you. You're absolutely correct about the economics of drug dealing. I read Freakanomics - fascinating book - and now I remember the part about the street-level dealer being on the low end of the pay scale. I completely forgot about that when I was posting earlier.

What I really was trying to get at was that it's easier for a kid to hang on a street corner than it is to work at a fast-food restaurant. When you get down to it, the money really isn't any better. And that helps bolster my point about pot taking away one's ambition. It's easier to hang on a street corner, watch for the cops, and collect money than it is to present oneself in a respectable manner, follow the rules, deal with the public and so on.

Believe me, I know of what I speak. I worked a couple of dead-end jobs, content to make enough money to cover the rent, pay my motorcycle payment, buy some herb and beer, and hope to have enough left to cover the rest of my bills. I had no desire to try for more, despite the fact that in the back of my mind, I knew I could do better.

Many years later, I went to college and now have a fantastic job. But I worked in a factory for 22 years, largely because I threw away many opportunities for a better future in order to have a better bag of dope.

I just wish the government could find a better use for the billions of dollars it has pissed away on a futile crusade.

May 14, 2008 at 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading the OR, but in the past couple of weeks, I have found that the blogs and the comments section on the daily polls to be more enlightening and engaging than the standard news sections. Perhaps the "forum" sections should be expanded... they probably get a higher density of page views.


May 14, 2008 at 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drugs offer an illusion of something that is in profound demand. It is the illusion of enlightenment. You get high and you see the world differently. It seems profoundly different to you and feel like you have been led out of Plato's cave. The problem is, it is just an illusion. You aren't enlightened, you are just high. True enlightenment comes from education. The problem, though, is that education has a higher barrier to entry than drug use, ie... cost. I can get stoned for a few bucks. It ran me 35 grand a year to be enlightened at W&J. It is ironic that the scholar is driven by the same primal impulse as the junkie. If only our children could get hooked on the paper pages of books rather than the paper pages of a pack of zig zags.


May 14, 2008 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Your commentary is most welcome, and well-written, Ellipses, and you're right about the comments on the daily poll. They are a riot. Hope you'll be a regular visitor. Cheers.

May 14, 2008 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

The same government that wants to get kids "off the pot" is telling them to eat as much as 20 servings of fiber per day... (food guide pyramid, max number of servings from bread and grain+fruit+vegetable)

Talk about counterintuitive!

Oh, shizzle... they meant weed...


May 15, 2008 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I never indulged heavily in "M" (although unlike Bill Clnton, I DID inhale), I spent enough years with people who smoked multiple joints a day to know that constant use can breed lethargy. I never saw evidence that it leads to harder drugs, but I'm sure the DEA and police can supply plenty of case studies and stats proving that it does.

Back in the early '70s, quaaludes were being used heavily by college kids, but they never caught on. I recall that on a first date with a girl of 19 when I was about 24 in the mid-1970s, I asked her what she liked to do for fun. She said, "Take a quaalude and go bowling." We didn't, and I'm not sorry.

These days addiction to painkillers and overprescribing of antidepressants is a bigger problem. But it's not likely to be stopped because it's legal and the drug companies make too much money from it. Let's see ... pot makes you so mellow that you can handle anything. Isn't that what Zoloft is supposed to do? So why is one legal and one not? (At least you don't have to stuff a rolled-up towel in the crack at the bottom of your bedroom door to stop your mom from smelling your Zoloft.)

If you want to stop pot smoking, legalize marijuana, let RJ Reynolds distribute it, and pretty soon the prices will drive most users away.

May 15, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I might be mistaken, but I think that quaaludes actually did "take off," so much so that Rorer quit making them. I know of one guy who was a dealer and he routinely received lots of 30,000 at a time. He might be dead now for all I know, but he made a lot of money dealing 'ludes. I never took them. I was plenty subdued as it was.

May 15, 2008 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Roger said...


Your comment:

I'm simply saying that IF government is going to throw it's hat in the ring and try to do something to help stem the problem, I'd think the money would be better used to sort out the drug problems that are killing so many young people.


I'm sorry, I don't understand the statement. The "would be better" is the part that is confusing. "Better than what" would be my question to clarify the statement.

In a related way (not specifically pointed to Amanda), I wonder why so many look to government for the answer to many of these problems. Somehow we get the impression that what the government does is the right thing to do. When a strategy comes from another source, often times it gets chastised and shouted down.

It seems to be OK for the government to run our public schools and indoctrinate students into a way of thinking that is consistent with what the government thinks. I know that is perhaps a stretch, being the government "is the people." However, many parents send their children to public schools, willing to have somebody impose their ideals on those students for twelve years (or more).

As somebody commented here a few posts earlier, the comments section in the O-R polls seems to be a hotbed of activity recently. The one that comes to mind relative to my comments in the past paragraph is the Bible distribution suggestion. Wow! There is nothing like mentioning the Bible in the school system to create havoc in the minds of some folks.

But, contrast the hands-off attitude of those folks who are content with the school administrators work with their child for twelve years, yet get very uptight when the Bible is given some visibility.

I think it was Ellipses made good comments regarding the illusionary nature of drugs. I think the issue of wanting to create the illusion is lack of contentment. People are so unhappy with themselves. I will draw directly from a spiritual perspective, we need to learn to be content, no matter what the circumstances. Drugs (or alcohol) seems to be an escape from the lack of contentment.

I'm sure some will disagree with the notion of "learning to be content." However, such a perspective is derived from gaining purpose and respect outside of ourselves. I don't intend to wax philosophical here, but seeing life from a much bigger viewpoint than the day-to-day stuff is important. Trying to find purpose in the mundane stuff of temporal life will always emerge hollow. Drugs is an attempt to deal with the hollowness.

I hope I'm not confusing with the post. I've really addressed two matters related to the topic, government intervention, and living life through an illusion. I'm sorry if I have confused the two, ... been a very long day.

May 15, 2008 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I think learning to be comfortable in one's own skin, so to speak, is one of the more difficult challenges we face. And if you take the "me, me, me" approach, you'll never get there. As Roger said, the broader view of life is necessary. And, yes, I agree that drug use, or alcohol abuse, is a way to avoid dealing with the world as it exists and an attempt to create some sort of alternative universe for oneself.

May 16, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voie of Homer Simpson: "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm... quaaludes! Agahahagahaghah"

May 16, 2008 at 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do a 'lude, get nude."

May 16, 2008 at 4:49 PM  

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