My 21-year-old nephew recently said, "Come on, Tom, taking a toke is no different than drinking a beer!"
"If that’s true," I asked, "why don’t people drink beer when they feel a craving for weed?"
Pot has been a symbol of the counter culture since at least the 1960s. Since then there has been a relentless, well-orchestrated effort to convince the public that smoking a joint is perfectly harmless. If that is so, why has nearly every civilized nation made recreational marijuana use illegal?
Maybe it’s because governments don’t want us to have any fun. Or it might be that government leaders know a little more about the dangers of widespread marijuana use than the guy on the street. A quick research job on the internet reveals that long term, frequent marijuana use: 1) damages the brain, 2) damages chromosomes, 3) reduces cell development, 3) contributes to feelings of apathy, lethargy, and dulls the mind, 4) negatively affects memory and learning, 4) and may trigger schizophrenia and even psychosis.
It is said that marijuana use is non-addictive. I don’t think that it’s addictive in the same way that crack cocaine or heroine is addictive, but I do know several people who are definitely addicted to marijuana and there are multiple organizations that deal with helping people quit the habit.
What about marijuana being a "gateway drug"? Admittedly, most people who try marijuana a few times do not become addicts, nor do they become crack heads or heroin junkies. However, nearly everyone addicted to "hard drugs" started with marijuana.
Recently, an acquaintance admitted to me that he had frequented prostitutes during his youth. He had begun smoking marijuana with several of them and this went on for a few months. One day, one of the prostitutes invited him to "try something new." She led him into a room and on the table were a plate, a razor blade, a plastic straw and a teaspoon of cocaine. Fortunately, he wasn’t stupid enough to snort that powder, but you can see were his use of pot had led him.
Many people say that there are many pot users who hold down good jobs or are good students and lead productive, responsible lives. This might be true of some occasional users, but I know some real "pot heads". All of them are either unemployed or underemployed. All of them are either single or are unfaithful to their spouses. I did know one heavy pot user who held down a full time job for years. However, he had fathered several illegitimate children with a variety of women and had the habit of "bouncing cheques". A few years ago, he ended up in jail. Apparently, he had become a cocaine user and, in a drug-fuelled rage, he had almost beaten his girl friend to death with a lamp.
Most people have the good sense to stay away from heroin, cocaine, LSD and other "hard drugs." The media and the education system have rightly demonized these drugs, but have irresponsibly portrayed pot use as relatively harmless or even healthy. Many people try pot and nothing seems to happen or they just get a slight "buzz", so they think it’s no big deal. However, other people become regular users of the drug and gradually their lives go down hill. The biggest danger of pot is that is appears to be harmless. Its damaging effects are fairly subtle and gradual.
If you are looking for a healthy "high", stay away from drugs, purify your heart and meditate on the mysteries of the Catholic faith.