The January 18-24 2019 edition of the St. Louis Business Journal extolled the virtues of making lots of money from medical marijuana.
Yes, we know that medical marijuana is now legal in Missouri; and yes, we know that the Business Journal‘s interest in local businesses motivates its attention.
On the other hand, a convincing argument can be made that, while legal and profitable, promoting marijuana is decidedly unethical.
“The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association estimates $500 million in total economic benefit for the first year of the program.”
There are countless arguments for “medical benefits”; but those arguments seem to take second place after the arguments for how much money can be made.
There are also arguments for medical harm. Let’s take a look at the medical disadvantages, to get a sense of how promoting marijuana could be unethical.
Marijuana is a Drug
Make no mistake, marijuana (often called cannabis in an attempt to avoid the negative connotations of weed) is a drug.
Regardless of the name, this drug is a hallucinogen — a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the principal psychoactive component of marijuana, stays in the body for weeks, possibly months, depending on the length and intensity of usage. THC damages the immune system. In 2005, 242,200 emergency room visits in the U.S. involved marijuana. Nationwide, 40% of adult males tested positive for marijuana at the time of their arrest for a crime. Multiple studies have linked years of heavy marijuana use to brain abnormalities and psychosis. Cannabis is one of the few drugs which causes abnormal cell division which leads to severe hereditary defects.
Because a tolerance builds up, marijuana can lead users to consume stronger drugs to achieve the same effects.
People take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. The drug masks the problem for a time, but when the “high” fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. Marijuana can harm a person’s memory — and this impact can last for days or weeks. Marijuana smoke also has all of the detrimental effects previously attributed to tobacco.
The use of marijuana is not only harmful to the person himself; he can also become a risk to society. Research clearly shows that marijuana has the potential to seriously diminish attention, memory, and learning. Users have more accidents, more injuries, and absenteeism than non-users.
Some will tell you that CBD (cannabidiol) is harmless because it does not contain THC. However, note that CBD and THC are structural isomers, which means they share the same chemical composition but their atomic arrangements differ. The proponents of CBD ignore the fact that it messes with the neurotransmitter serotonin when making claims for its safety and usefulness. There are very little long-term safety data available, but there is a lot of money riding on making this legal and ubiquitous; any bad effects are not going to be advertised or promoted. At higher dosages, CBD will deactivate cytochrome P450 enzymes, making it harder to metabolize certain drugs and toxins, particularly psychiatric drugs, leading to a toxic build-up of drugs and their subsequent adverse side effects.
How Drugs Work in the Body
Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant. A greater amount acts as a sedative. An even larger amount poisons and can kill. This is true of any drug.
Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones along with the unwanted ones. While providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking.
Drugs affect the mind and destroy creativity. Drug residues lodge in the fatty tissues of the body and stay there, continuing to adversely affect the individual long after the effect of the drug has apparently worn off.
The Psychiatric Connection
In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association said, “There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder.” The research was starting to show significant harm from cannabis use.
However, the psychiatric industry today has jumped on the cannabis bandwagon for several reasons. Psychiatrists are embracing all things marijuana because they are getting so many patients with marijuana-related problems such as addiction and psychosis. Marijuana addiction is such a significant problem that there are 31 entries in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) related to this addiction. Unfortunately, the last thing any psychiatric treatment has achieved is rehabilitation from addiction.
Since the 1950’s, psychiatry has monopolized the field of drug rehabilitation research and treatments. Its long list of failed cures has included lobotomies, insulin shock, psychoanalysis and LSD.
To the psychiatric industry, when they are not prescribing it as a “treatment”, cannabis use merely represents another pool of potential patients for other coercive and harmful treatments.
The history of psychiatry makes it clear that over many, many years they have been pushing dangerous drugs as “medicines.” We didn’t originally know about the long-term destructive effects of LSD, heroin, ecstasy, benzodiazepines, ritalin, and so on when psychiatrists first pushed them onto an unsuspecting society. Cannabis is no exception, as more and more psychiatrists are prescribing “medical” cannabis in spite of (or because of) the addiction problem. We think it’s the latter; the pool of potential psychiatric patients is increased by increasing cannabis use.
The Ethics of Promoting Marijuana Use
Ethics consists simply of the actions an individual takes on himself. A high level of ethics enhances one’s survival across all areas of life; it embodies rationality towards the greatest good for the greatest number. A low level of ethics, on the other hand, would be one’s irrationality toward bringing minimal survival, maximum harm or destruction, across all areas of life — or the least good for the fewest. An individual whose actions are harmful in society becomes subject to Justice. We leave it to each individual to observe for themselves the degree to which they and their associates are surviving well or poorly, and how marijuana may contribute to or obstruct the quality of their life.
In a statement issued January 13, 2019, the Cleveland Clinic announced that it will not be recommending medical marijuana to its patients. Dr. Paul Terpeluk, medical director of employee health services at the Cleveland Clinic, said, “There is little verified, published research that supports marijuana…as a medical treatment. … However, there is a significant amount of scientific literature that unequivocally shows that marijuana use has both short- and long-term deleterious effects on physical health.”