Public opinion on a variety of topics, concerns or ideas is at odds with known evidence and scientific studies. In some cases there is strong evidence in the form of empirical data to support a conclusion about something, whilst a large part of the public believes just the opposite. The harmless or harmful effects of heavy marijuana use is one of those. Heavy pot smoking has lots of bad health effects yet with no evidence the consensus of a large segment of the public is that it’s safe, benign, even wholesome.
Man-made climate change is a hoax not supported by any true scientific evidence other that completely phony computer models that consistently fail to live up to predictions, yet with no real evidence an equally large segment of the public sincerly believes in it.
Both phenomena are major disconnects from reality. The reasons for this could be complex, but the false knowledge about marijuana is fairly obvious.
The scientific literature on THC, the ingredient in marijuana the gives people a high, is very negative compared to what is was 20-30 years ago. Today’s pot is five times stronger than it was in the 1970’s , the decade in which many people (Not me! Never!) tried it for the first time. Prior to that only jazz musicians and aging 1950s beatniks were smoking dope. The push for legalization might influence people to belief it’s OK, else why would it be legal? This requires people to believe the nicotine in tobacco is less harmful than the THC in marijuana. It isn’t.
Popular opinion that marijuana can be used recreationally without harm is a powerful persuader. It’s probably what has led to several myths about marijuana which form a widely accepted narrative that pot has medicianl properties; making it legal will make the black market disappear and shut down the drug dealers; pot will replace opioids thereby diminishing the epidemic; and some pot smokers have even convinced themselves pot is a natural substance and therefor it’s healthy.
The Colorado experience refutes all of that. The black market is thriving for at least two reasons: The dealers can undercut the price of legal weed when greedy government becomes a rent seeker from excessive pot taxes. More not less opioid use is occurring, often leading to premature death from an overdose. It’s not true that every pot smoker will move on to opioids, but it’s true that nearly every opioid used began with marijuana. Denver has become the hub source for illegal marijuana sold in contiguous states.
Now comes the big one that makes a mockery of all the popular beliefs about marijuana. It’s been widely reported that hospitals are treating roughly three times the number of people for marijuana induced psychosis and marijuana-use disorders as they were a few years ago. Social anxiety disorder is becoming common among heavy pot smokers. The relationship to the opioid epidemic is not as clear as it should be, but that is likely to change.
Young people’s brains seem to be especially vulnerable to harm from pot smoking. They can lose mental energy and acuity. When that happens their future can become bleak. The can reach a point where pot becomes their best friend if not their only friend. Fiends with pot as their only friend is a hopeless existence. Most employers are requiring drug tests before hiring.
Marijuana is now legal in Canada. Things were already kinda crazy up there. I don’t expect it to get any better. I don’t think Canadians can take it getting any worse.