Marijuana and Youth
Youth use drugs because they want to zone out from the “noises” of their reality. They use marijuana because it is good at that. It allows them to decide the depth to which they will zone out and the frequency at which they will do it. They also know that science has not (yet) determined the long-term health effects. So they assume there are none and use marijuana freely.
The problem with marijuana is that it is good at providing just that – the opportunity to zone out from responsibility, from stresses, or from pain. These conditions still remain and return after the zoning out has passed, and since the zoning out seems so innocuous, there is little that prevents them from indulging again, and again. In moving them from the stresses of life, however, it constructively removes them from the ingredients for personal growth, an absolutely essential part of our existence. This can be disastrous. May I show you why?
My concern about marijuana is not the physical health effects. Though I fear they exist, until they are known I am not at liberty to implicate them. There is a lot of research information on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of marijuana use that is available for review. My real concern is the efficacy of zoning out, the state of becoming cognitively or intellectually dissociated from the challenges of reality. Again, I am not harping on the potential disasters that can befall the user. Most marijuana users are careful enough (or idle enough) to not be in dangerous situations when they are using. What I am harping on, therefore, is the actual long-term effect of zoning out, even partially. The power of the human being is that of our mental strength and awareness. This is never enough and must always be stimulated. Zoning out disconnects that stimulation. It does not make a person more foolish, but it slows the opportunity to be more smart. Of course, this can even be compared to sleeping long hours. During sleep one does not stimulate mental function. Actually the effect of sleep is to rest that activity of mental stimulation so that the growth from new experiences can be rooted. That is definitely not the same with drug-induced dissociation. Of course, there is no empirical data that can be used to determine the state of mind development, social evolution, or personal maturity. Therefore, the effect on these qualities is left to personal conjecture or recognition after the fact, an often irreversible state.
Drug-induced dissociation is fraught with artificial activities that stimulate in a superficial or haphazard way. That is the attraction of the rush or the high. One’s mental awareness is artificially sent on a nebulous journey. So, two things are happening. One is the dissociation that is a break in the contiguity of the process of learning without the benefit of making past experiences rooted. The other is the introduction of a nebulous set of images that may entertain with pleasant feelings but contribute little to the development of mental fortitude. Is this wrong? This is definitely hazardous to mental/spiritual/social development, especially when the frequency or depth of dissociation creates large holes in the process of growing. This is like driving on a road. The occasional pothole may not be harmful, but if the road becomes full of potholes so that there is just as much disruption from potholes as there are areas of roadway, driving becomes impossible. Don’t ignore it. The whole purpose of life is a journey, one that builds character, intelligence, and happiness. We don’t just get any of these. Yet we want them. Therefore, we have to build them. This can’t be done effectively in a journey full of potholes.
Just remember too that marijuana has a half-life in the body of two to ten days. This means that the active ingredient, THC, stays in the body for that long, or at least half of it does. Then in another two to ten days, half of the rest will be excreted while the other half remains active. Think of what this tells us. It says that THC stays in the system too long, and if they use again in that period, it just adds up. Of course, after a certain level has been excreted, they will have less left in the body, perhaps too little to have a rush. So they do not think there is any more effect. The dissociation, however, is still there. They may go around only feeling the rush with each new joint, but the dissociation may last or simply accumulate, causing the process of personal development to be stunted or contain large gaps in various areas that require maturation.
My conclusion and advice is that, though marijuana may seem innocuous on the surface and even appears to have little immediate effect on physical health, it can seriously affect mental development and maturation. Since that is really the only thing anyone ever develops in life (the body remains as what we were given to start, or becomes less as we lose some parts), it is a shame to dismiss or discard that responsibility. I respect the sanctity of the human mind and am distressed to see it wasted. Hence my view on youth’s use of marijuana is even more serious. Youth are still evolving mentally. It is disastrous for them to abort it before it has been accomplished. Think of picking a green fruit and later putting it out in the sun to ripe. It will never taste sweet even if it looks ripe.
Therefore, the best and only way to help a youth manage marijuana use is to prove to them that the purpose of life is to grow and mature mentally, that marijuana slows this, and that the “noises” are good and necessary for that growth. It is ineffective to either force abstinence or punish the use as they see only the rush, the relaxation, and the apparent scarcity of physical health effects. They really do not know how to look into the deeper issues. We have to show this to them and prove it to be correct.
Albert de Goias MB BS
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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