Pot is Good, Bourbon for Breakfast is Gross
Jeffrey Tucker, the hard-voting, Rand Paul loving, bow tie-wearing anarchist recently published an anti-cannabis piece titled, “Pot is Gross.” In the article, he articulated his distaste for weed. He formed his opinions based on personal anecdotes and virginal college experiences, while summarily dismissing scientific research that has helped illuminate the health benefits and creative insights bequeathed by the fragrant plant. He voiced his non-arguments in an act of bias equal to debunked, 1930’s propaganda campaigns. I will address his concerns using reason as well as modern research literature.
Tucker accused pot-smokers of being “dopey,” classless, and incapable of straight thinking in what seemed to be one of the most asinine examples of sweeping generalization and factual ignorance ever put into article form. A Tech Libertarian write-up rebutted him with these words, “I have friends I don’t care to smoke with because as Tucker said, it makes them dopey. We get high and end up vegging out, but I believe that’s largely an extension of their personality. They’re dopey while high because in general they’re relatively dopey people. I hate it so I try to avoid it.”
The Tech Libertarian provided a good counterargument. Cannabis does not drastically alter the character of an individual’s personality; it only heightens sensations and perceptions, especially in regard musical appreciation. It creates an altered state of consciousness whereby awareness is enhanced with a sense of euphoria, hilarity, synesthesia, and Buddhist-like immediacy. It does not make smart people dumb or dampen intelligence; but if person is already dumb or dull, it could intensify those traits momentarily.
Christopher Cantwell also contributed to the anti-logical insanity in an attempt to agree with Tucker in his article “On Pot, Tucker Nails It,” but ironically ended his rant with a quasi-apology for his generalizations, as well as some juicy anti-Tucker jabs. That was expected, though. I just wish the basic rules of reasoning were followed. I wish experiences with idiots on drugs were shrugged off as experience with idiots, regardless of whether they ate a pot brownie. Instead, these anarcho-goody-goods blamed the herb. But as I intend to show, cannabis often promotes the opposite effect of idiocy.
Tucker said, “Cite all the bogus science you want, but I know better, just from life experience.”
These words represent an arrogant denial of the accomplishments and discoveries of pharmacology. I am a professional research assistant at a university and I know that “life experience” is not an objective criterion to judge the effects and efficacy of a drug compound, much less anything else. It would have been much classier and more sophisticated for Tucker to examine the facts surrounding the use and culture of cannabis. Instead, he lazily invoked his prude and anal-retentive college life and cited it as a broad example of marijuana culture.
Studies have revealed that cannabis increases semantic learning and creativity, and more studies are uncovering the various neuroprotective applications of cannabis. Marijuana has been shown to potentially help heal stroke victims, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. These facts can be found in The Pot Book by Julie Holland M.D (hardly a dubious source as Cantwell implied), or among the numerous scholarly pieces published across the internet. Holland covered a wide array of scientific literature behind the healing and creative potential of cannabis. She inferred that the medical benefits of marijuana may far outstrip the negative consequences. The only problem is that government has stymied research on cannabis because of its Schedule 1 status.
What Tucker does not also seem to realize—nor looked into prior to popping his pot cherry—is that the cannabis effects the receptor system in the hippocampus, which is the brain region partly responsible for memory formation and retrieval. Researchers believe this area is implicated in the memory trace and recall problems that occur during cannabis intoxication. However, there is no evidence that these cognitive impairments are permanent. As a matter of fact, the study that discovered the increased semantic learning provides evidence to the contrary, that pot heightens learning and accelerates creative problem solving. This may be, in part, where Tucker’s bias comes in that herb smokers are smoking themselves stupid, but which has been revealed as a culturally perpetuated myth.
What really boggled my mind about Tucker’s article was this hypocritical notion that bourbon is classy and sophisticated, and that pot is gross and unsophisticated. He did not delve into his drinking habits, but if anything demonstrates that he is entrenched in intellectual dishonesty or confusion, it is this notion that drinking in the morning represents classiness and coolness (as his discussions on whisky suggest). Unlike cannabis, alcohol can be highly destructive to the body, and can be considered a toxin. The evidence is legion. This is not to say that I dislike alcohol. I am quite fond of beer and bourbon, but boozing in the morning is nastier and more obscene than smoking a particularly harmless plant. The shirtless redneck who batters his wife is the image that comes to mind when getting soused in the morning. It is not exactly an inspiring or polished image, especially not bow tie-worthy. See how generalized opinions work?
Tucker once said that some of the greatest men he ever knew had bourbon for breakfast. I contend that an even greater number of great men and women have smoked pot or used other psychedelic compounds to augment their creativity: Carl Sagan, Maya Angelou, Michael Phelps, Robert Downey Jr., Johnny Depp, Bill Gates, Stephen Jay Gould, to name a handful.
I agree with Tucker and Cantwell that the war on drugs must be abolished, because it is really a war against people. I just wish they would employ evidence and research before writing opinion pieces that contain the scientific acumen of a toddler. In the least, they could marshal more powerful arguments. Whining about the smell or texture of a substance while resorting to tired and unfashionable generalizations are not convincing opinions, and blithely and pompously dismissing evidence and truth makes anyone look dumb, even if they are not high. Hopefully, everyone who looks at cannabis culture with similar lazy disdain can start to examine the facts with more objectivity. Is that so much to ask?
Concepts of Chemical Dependency, 8th edition, by Harlod E. Doweiko
Sterlin Lujan is a professional writer, editor, research assistant, and aspiring counseling psychologist. He writes for The Art of Not Being Governed, HER Magazine, and has written a peer reviewed scholarly article for the International Journal of Reality Therapy. He takes a special interest in the psychological and psychopharmacological aspects of libertarianism and voluntary anarchism, and intends to start a movement toward more liberty based theories in psychotherapy and counseling. He has a BA in psychology, and he is currently working on a graduate degree for substance abuse therapy. Sterlin also takes interest in a wide variety of subjects, including philosophy, biology, anarchism, economics and neuroscience.