23 Mar Anthony Lewis: Is Cannabis Addictive?
CLEAR Member Anthony Lewis
Many people claim that cannabis should remain illegal because it is an addictive substance. I’m going to offer my observations on the matter from a logical state of inquiry.
A physical dependency in humans can be identified when a chemical observably changes the condition of an environment in a way which the body becomes dependent on it, for example, to stop the presence of that chemical would result in physical changes other than just a reduction of that chemical.
When we eat food, our body breaks down the chemicals present in that food in the stomach, and then they are absorbed by the intestinal wall into the blood stream; when you stop eating them, your cells begin to starve because we need the nutrients in food in order to support cell life.
Cannabis is an identical process, the chemicals in the plant can be absorbed through the intestines, lungs and skin and when you stop introducing them, any chemical changes they were making will begin to cease working.
This shifts the question to whether any of the chemical changes made by cannabis are needed. Whether we need any of the chemicals in cannabis relies completely on the intent and reasoning behind the choice to introduce them.
So let’s examine some of the effects of cannabis:
Cannabinoids react with our natural endocannabinoid receptors resulting in varying effects based on the levels of cannabinoid present in the product and the means in which it is administered. It has been used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, serotonin deficiency, migraine headaches, it has been used to cure forms of cancer, to help strengthen the immune system and much, much more.
If a person with Parkinson’s received a reduction in symptoms by administering cannabis and their use did not cause harm or loss to another, then there is surely a responsible and reasonable intent and no reason that they should not be allowed to continue administering cannabis.
On the other hand, what about the people who use cannabis without responsible and reasonable intent?
Let’s examine one example: a healthy man with no medical conditions who chooses to smoke cannabis out of the belief it will stop him from being angry.
This is not a justifiable reason for smoking cannabis because the man is simply masking an issue rather than trying to understand why the issue is there, resulting in a perpetual habit in which he mentally believes he needs to smoke in order to be relaxed, rather than learning to be relaxed in himself.
Now though this is a logically unjustified reason, you also have to consider that we do not have the right to tell someone how to live their life, we should instead try to support people that are making illogical choices by providing them the information and resources that we can in order to help them make an informed decision. It is absolutely not our place to force them into an action unless they are causing harm or loss to another person.
So in short, if you think that the risk of developing a habitual addiction to cannabis is justification to make the substance illegal, then you are not only choosing to ignore the actual cause of the problem, but you must by definition ban everything on this planet, because the human mind is capable of forming habits with anything.
Now not everyone that smokes cannabis without a chemical reason such as for a medical condition is a habitual user. They may just be choosing to use the plant as a hobby or as a social tool to relieve some of the pressure of making constant conversation, so it’s important not to categorise people as either medicinal users or ignorant. There are many reasons for an action and we should be tolerant and inquisitive rather than closed minded and hostile.
By making cannabis illegal, we’ve categorised a large portion of human beings as ‘criminals’, when often they have no intent to cause harm or loss to anyone and if they did it’s not because of cannabis. Not only this, we have allowed one of the most diverse and useful medicines and agricultural crops to be placed into unregulated hands where the general public can’t reap the benefits, as well as bringing issues such as contaminated product, electrical hazards in grow ops, funding for organised crime, territorial warfare and plenty more.
So today I am here to ask you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, to research and consider the information for yourself as a responsible and unbiased individual, and then engaging that responsibility by promoting awareness. There are so many people that could benefit from cannabis and it’s time that we stopped being passive to the injustices in this world.