Legalized Pot: Are We Ready for this?

About a year ago, I posted some thoughts on aspects ol marihuana legalization. At this point, it would seem that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak – about 36 states have taken some steps to decriminalize the stuff. As I’ve said in other posts, I am wholeheartedly in favor of legalization for medical uses, but I wish we had some idea of what we’re dealing with.

There is, of course, the legal definition, which is stated in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which takes a full paragraph in Schedule I, reserved for the most heinous, dangerous stuff out there, having no accepted medical use. (By contrast, fentanyl, which has killed thousands of our fellow citizens, resides tn Schedule II of the Act; it does have legitimate medical uses). The definition specifies rhe plant Cannabis sativa; which is home to several dozen chemicals having diverse (and pretty much unknown) effects on the human body. Of this plethora of substances two are singled out in most discussions – cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The former appears to be useful in treating seizures without psychoactivity (doesn’t make one high). THC does.

CBD, anecdotaly, has significant promise as, among other conditions, an anti-seizure med. It also shows promise as a pain reliever. CBD can be purchased without a prescription at your local Food Lion (and probably other supers). It has never been approved by FDA or any other US government agency (it is, after all, derived from an illegal substance under existing Federal law).

THC, on the other hand, is stuff to make you high, period. Well, then, how do you use it? The most common practice is to smoke it, although it can be baked into brownies or other recreational food. OK, lets consider cigarettes. How strong a dose do you get in a cigarette? Who knows. Does anybody? What is true is the THC potency is estimated to be at least 10 times what it was 30 years ago, What effect does this stronger pot have on the developing adolescent brain? I suppose we could set a smoking age, maybe 21. Good luck with that!

Tobacco cigarettes are a well-known hazard. Limited studies have shown that marihuana cigarettes may be even more hazardous, although marihuana smokers are probably not going to smoke 2 or 3 packs per day, every day.

We, as a society, would benefit greatly from research into effects, safety, quality assurance, dosage and other aspects of marihuana use. Since pot has been around since biblical times, it would be hard to create a pathway toward patent protection (and, as a result, encourage Big Pharma to do what it does best, namely, conduct research for fun and profit. Oh well, why bother, anyway? We’re just using it for R and R. No, I don’t want to return us to reefer madness, but we do need to take this a bit more seriously to safeguard our young people (at least those that survive school massacres…..).

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