A Different Perspective on Cannabis
Many people, especially youth, see cannabis as a safe drug. It produces a relaxation without significant adverse effects on the body. They are right. What they fail to estimate, however, is the effect of cannabis on the growing mind. That cannot be measured empirically. So it is impossible to know if a stunted development is the result of cannabis or a cause of the attraction to cannabis. Also, since development cannot be determined empirically, it is also impossible to know if what was achieved could have been more, or even less, without the use of cannabis. This, therefore, has to be examined logically. Let’s do that now.
What is the attractive effect of Cannabis?
Cannabis is attractive because it affords a mental disconnection from the physical reality. This places the user in a state of altered mental function for an undetermined period (depending on the amount used, the strength of the product, and, of course, the resilience of the user at that time. For instance, a user who is already exhausted, is under the influence of other substances, or has some impairment in metabolism will have a more sustained effect than will a more balanced person).
So let us look at the positive effects and then examine their negative counterparts.
- Relaxation. Cannabis is good at that. The way it works is that it creates a dissociation between the consciousness and the reality. The dissociation is partial so you are still aware but your function is partially disconnected. That has no impact as long as you are not is a highly responsible or challenging position. The down side is that, when the relaxation wears off, you can have the opposite effect of irritability. This is the desired effect. It allows relaxation to be pleasant and disconnected from things that can bother it as long as the participation is occasional and during rest periods.
- Accumulative effects. Cannabis has a half-life of 2-9 days, again depending on the factors listed above. If use is separated by as many days, this concern does not come in. When, especially in youth who think that the lack of discovered physical effects means that it can be used daily, the amount of active substance can accumulate to high levels that make the dissociation into a significantly altered state that remains for unhealthy periods. This does not mean there is an addiction. It simply accentuates both the positive and, therefore, the negative effects.
- Dissociation. The dissociative effect of cannabis is the most attractive. That is not a true ‘high’. It is simply a pleasantness because stresses don’t matter. This is the most worrisome effect. This, to me, makes cannabis bad because it is too good. It is too good at creating that dissociation. So the ability to be highly productive especially in logical or rational processes is stunted. The user thinks he is highly functional but memory and, more important, true understanding can be impaired. Surely, a person can be more able to contemplate thoughts that would ordinarily be lost in the “noises” of life and so experience what may appear to be a creative feat. But it is creativity without the benefit of true exploration, examination, or information. What is lost or stagnated is the opportunity to gather new information, examine conditions logically, and test creative ideas – whether it is in a mechanical, physiological, or social situation. This process of true learning can be lost, and even if only for a short period, can place the person sufficiently behind the eight ball so life becomes more difficult and understanding insufficient, promoting a future need to escape the turmoil through the ready dissociation.
Thus, it is the opinion of this researcher that cannabis can be bad because it is good – at its effect on consciousness. The human mind is a creative force. We cannot and should not stagnate it even though that allows a false sense of disconnection from the very challenges that stimulate its development. I have been more concerned with youth. Youth is that period when a human being is most receptive to learning about life and from life. Later, that learning can be applied and even expanded into more creative actions. Youth, therefore, should not stagnate that growth period. They do need distractions and there are many that do not provide it through a dissociation over which they have no true control.