The Scarlet

The Human Toll of Cannabis Legalization?

Jason Fehrnstrom, Scarlet Staff

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Boston’s Mayor, Mr. Marty Walsh, subtly denounced a legal and societal trend that seems to have everyone else in high spirits. Walsh recently questioned the desirability of legalizing cannabis in an interview with the Boston Herald.

Walsh is certainly excited about the avalanche of tax revenue that the legalization of the drug is posed to render. In spite of this benefit, however, Walsh expressed consternation about whether the “taxation is worth the human toll,” according to MassLive. Walsh, who has openly spoken to the public about his former struggle with alcoholism, is privy to the costs of addiction.

The mayor’s seemingly anachronistic moralizing exposed him to a torrent of criticism from cannabis advocates. Responses ranged from cordial to combative. One man insinuated that the “mayor of Boston must not believe in science.” Others were brash enough to say “[insert expletive] this guy!”

Responses to Walsh’s comments varied in tone. Nonetheless, the same message underpins all of them. It is one that suggests cannabis is a benign plant that cannot even be adequately described as a drug.

This message insinuates the term “cannabis addiction” is a misnomer itself; a logical contradiction in terms. Per this message, speaking of the “human toll” of cannabis addiction conveys a fundamental misunderstanding of the wonders of this harmless panacea.

Certainly, it is legitimate and desirable to harness the medicinal properties of cannabis. It is known to effectively treat epilepsy, chronic pain, glaucoma, nausea, anxiety, insomnia and a litany of other disorders and symptoms.

The argument that cannabis ought to be regulated and taxed has merit and value. A society’s laws must be coherent and consistent. There is no reason why someone ought to be able to enjoy alcohol, a drug that causes tens of thousands of deaths per year, and not cannabis, a drug that is relatively safe.

The federal legalization of cannabis is an imminent inevitability. The legal debate about cannabis should transcend contention. What should be subject to debate, however, is the veracity of this aforementioned message which is beguiling Americans to consume cannabis with reckless abandon.

It has become eerily commonplace on college campuses, and even in some high schools, to see young Americans consuming cannabis before work, class, meals, and each social interaction. These chronic, heavy cannabis users have unwittingly internalized the message that cannabis use is categorically harmless.

This is not a healthy, sustainable pattern of living. Any drug that renders a high ought to be used moderately, if not occasionally. It is imperative that young people learn to enjoy activities and relationships in isolation from a glass of wine or a hit of the pipe. Experiencing life solely in relation to drugs is inauthentic and sad.

Living life behind a veil of cannabis-induced insensibility is certainly pleasurable. As the saying goes, “living is easy with eyes closed.” Cannabis is an effective short-term solution for weathering the vicissitudes of the emotional experience.

When one feels overwhelmed, cannabis mellows things out. When one feels numb or emotionless, cannabis creates a sense of meaning. It effectively places a wet blanket over the cognitive faculties of its user.

Cannabis creates the illusion of emotional well-being. One feels as though they are able to distance themselves from or contextualize their thoughts when they are high. This may be an effective short-term crutch. However, the high will always wear off. The problems, however, are there to stay.

The human toll of cannabis use is considerably less pronounced than that of alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, or other drugs. However, there is evidence which suggests there is a considerable amount of Americans who are chronic, heavy cannabis users (MassLive).

It is time to stop pretending that this does not constitute a human toll. Rectifying this cultural distortion does not mean adopting a prohibitive view of medicinal and recreational cannabis. Conversely, it is the simple acknowledgement that one cannot live a healthy life if sobriety is an unfamiliar state of being.



RED HIGHLIGHTED TEXT→ This quote is a repackaging of a quote from the book beautiful boy, by David Sheff. It is now a movie with steve carrell and timothee chalamet.

Sheff, David. Beautiful Boy : A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.


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The Human Toll of Cannabis Legalization?