Next spring, Trudeau, the only sitting Member of Parliament ever to admit to smoking a joint (and hence breaking the law), along with his majority Liberal government, plan to legalize recreational marijuana in Canada (medicinal/therapeutic use is already legal here in Her Majesty’s Dominion); the ‘task force’ tasked with the weighty task of coming up with ‘recommendations’ concluded yesterday with various parameters within which this would work: Only four plants per ‘household’ (like that will be enforceable); a mix between ‘official’ production (read: vast hash factories, like the one described here, which hopes to start producing 100,000 kg by 2017) and ’boutique’ grow-ops (read: homegrown, as in your backyard); some cascading tax on the product (of course) depending on potency; plain labelling (as in cigarettes) so as not to unduly encourage usage, but with the amount of the active ingredient (THC, tetrahydracannabinol) clearly labeled; and to top it all off, a minimum age of 18 to buy and use.
So you can get stoned at 18, but cannot enter a licensed establishment or sip a beer. Curious.
But more curious is that physicians called for a minimum age of 25, due to the, shall we say, deleterious ‘effects’ of marijuana on the developing brain, and one might argue on the brain and the soul in general.
There will be societal ramifications of this misguided legislation, almost all of which will flow from what this drug does to the individual who inhales or ingests this psychotropic substance. Here are just some of the effects of regular use of m-j and hash. Here is what Dr. Ed Gorek had to say in an article last year:
An article published in Current Addiction Reports listed dozens of studies showing that marijuana damages the still-developing teenage brain. The brains of teens who smoke pot have less gray matter, more disorganized white matter, and disrupted blood flow. Dozens of structural changes show up on brain scans, and these changes are linked to less ability to think and plan, more impulsivity, poor attention, and worse memory. Teenage marijuana users think more slowly and process less. And most of this damage is permanent; even if they later stop using marijuana, their brain function does not return to normal.
There is no ‘safe’ amount of marijuana, for its effects at the microscopic, neuronal level of the brain are still not fully understood, but what is known is not good, including loss and inhibition of dendritic growth (which undergirds learning and motivation). The science bears strong evidence to the anecdotal characterization of users as ‘potheads’, ‘stoners’, who are zombified, lack willpower, soft, effeminate creatures whose zeal and strength, determination and focus, are sapped; and the effects last, as the good doctor declares, even if one stops.
But there is a deeper problem, prescinding from the deleterious medical manifestations of this or any other drug, and that is the need to use a substance solely for the euphoric or intoxicating effects that it produces which, in the Church’s teaching, is wrong. And this applies not just to what we normally think of as ‘drugs’, but also to alcohol, widely touted by the Catholic culture.
Do not misunderstand me; I am no teetotaller, and enjoy a sip or two or three now and again. As Belloc wrote:
Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I have always found it so, Benedicamus Domino.
However, we always must imbibe primarily for the taste of whatever it is we are drinking, taking its (hopefully slight) euphoric effects very much as secondary. To use alcohol like a drug, to deliberately get high or drunk, is contrary to our nature, to the proper use of our reason, and, yes, sinful. Coud you imagine injecting or inhaling alcohol? Well, many can, and have done so, like a bar I heard of that maintains a ‘fog’ of distilled booze in the air, just to keep everyone buzzing and on the dance floor, busting moves they might not in a more rational mode.
Chesterton has a thoughtful essay on the intake of alcohol, which he compares to sex: Just as we can never seek sex purely for the pleasure, but rather must engage in this most intimate of actions within the holy bond of matrimony for its primary procreative and unitive significations (although nothing wrong, and much that is right, with pleasure and enjoyment as a by-product; who would seek sex without it? Is not that why God made it so pleasurable?). So too, we should drink fine wines and well-crafted ales for their palate, their refreshment, the company, with the euphoria and hilarity as a bit of an added bonus. As Chesterton said somewhere or other, always drink to remember, never drink to forget.
This is the key distinction between alcohol and marijuana, or any drug really, for drugs such as these are sought only for their euphoric and ‘high’ effects; as such, one level of ‘high’ is never enough, and attenuation and addiction inevitably ensues, with ever-greater potencies for ever-greater highs.
This, really, is what alcoholism is, using wine, ale and spirits as they are not meant to be used, as drugs, to escape reality. Nietzsche once wrote that the test of a man was how much of the truth he could take. It seems we in Canada cannot take all that much.
All this new legislation will do is introduce a far greater number of people to dependency upon pot, with all that entails: Societal and spiritual dysfunction, lost productivity and work hours, delinquency, apathy, listlessness, and an increase in psychiatric disorders. Now that I ponder it, perhaps this is what the government wants, to gather around itself a populace even more supine, sheep-like and docile than it already is.
All the more easy to control you with, my little children. So toke up, and let the good guru Trudeau along with his pied piping minions lead you where he may.