My Argument Against MarijuanaSubmitted by Tman2000 on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 01:49
I'm intrigued by many of the comments.
First, of all, many people have yelled at me for pointing a gun at their head or something. WTF? Did you read what I wrote?
Second, although some people have been pretty comfortable with the point I've made even though they disagree, most people are quite visceral about what I've said.
I have 41 downvotes at the moment. Why? Because I've made a moral argument against the voluntary choice to use drugs including marijuana. It's frankly the same position, if perhaps formulated sort of specifically, as Ron Paul.
I said that Marijuana is not some big demon, and sure, if you've been through hell that sort of thing might help you. I'm not condemning you.
What do you think Ron Paul is all about, why do people worship him? He's a moral man. So, in fact, is someone like Alex Jones. They have a sense of commitment of their duties to themselves, their families, their God. There is a sense of higher moral purpose.
Now, that alone doesn't make marijuana bad, but I'm trying to say that having a 'goodie-two-shoe' 'boy scout' commitment to doing right is a good thing, and we need that attitude. We are awake in that we aren't naive, and we think for ourselves, but we must have that commitment and be proud of that aspect of our character.
Okay, so I also think that this sort of do-the-right-thing morality involves staying away from drugs if you can. Chemicals that alter you mental state. Why's that such a controversial position? The CIA planting drugs in communities, the DOJ putting people in jail for it - can't you see this as a two-pronged attack?
So, you're not evil if you smoke pot. But, if I wanted my kids to aspire to something better in life, to do their duty to God - whichever God - if I was looking for that 'spark' in someone... I'd tell my kids to stay away, and I do grow skeptical of people who smoke pot. Look, I have good friends that are liberal who think that if everything in society isn't circumscribed by law and regulation, then surely everything will go wrong and everyone will die. They are smart and well-intentioned, but they're wrong. They don't think quite right. Likewise, smoking pot is not this guarantee of being something bad or whatever, but I would automatically think something's not right.
And it's the same as if I wanted to go play sports with friends, or board games, or see a show of some kind and they want to get drunk and bang girls they don't care about. I'd have a problem with those people.
Everyone's different and have different tastes, but certain qualities and activities are just of a certain type that borders on that edge of nihilism and narcissism or what have you.
Anyway, some of this is private opinion. But I KNOW that this community is really motivated by the drug issue, and I am POLITICALLY ON BOARD with that issue. However, I thought it would be constructive to bring in a counter opinion. Look, some of us think ending the drug war will save our communities. Others think that spreading hemp plants all over the world like Johnny Appleseed will save the universe. That's deranged, and I was trying to start an adult conversation without relying on sophomoric talking points to say that perhaps drugs are really not a good thing, even if criminalization is a horrific overreach, and so perhaps this community needs to think about how much we want to celebrate marijuana.
I don't get why people get so pissed when you disagree with stuff they do. I didn't call names and presented a rational argument. I DON'T have to accept what you do, and I DON'T have to ignore it because it's what you want. What I can't do is ever force or coerce anyone. But on a public forum - you better damn believe I have a right to piss people off if I think it'll make the world a little better. And my goal isn't to just piss people off, but make an argument in spite of whether people choose to be pissed off.
41 down votes because I said marijuana might sort of be bad - I hate the 'this community is such and such' or 'I might have to quit'. No, not at all! I'm not going there. But I'm a little dismayed that there seems to be a big pothead situation here.
I have been wanting to do this for a while, I'm finally in the mood.
So, this is basically an abstract/moral argument.
Happiness is the goal of life, not the purpose of it. While we meaningfully pursue our purpose, we are happy. Purpose includes basic material objectives, and abstract spiritual objective. Eating good food can make you happy. Rest can make you happy. Exercise can make you happy. Creating can make you happy. Social activity can make you happy.
Now, there are these 'drug' things. They can be anything from refined sugar (maybe), or caffeine (better argument), to marijuana or coke. I would argue that any drug is a moral negative. That doesn't mean enjoying a coffee is evil, but all else being equal, one would hope to pursue life's goals for their own sakes. This argument will make more sense in a minute. Of course, coffee has utility: alertness, creative brain power, but in this case I'm talking about that warm feeling itself as an end in and of itself.
Marijuana has utility, in theory, but the main reason why people use it is for that feeling in and of itself. And this is in fact why I distinguish alcohol from marijuana. It is a matter of intensity. Still, I won't beat around the bush. I think that alcohol is a strong moral negative, and that people drink it way more often than what might be proper. So we can conflate the two. All I'm saying is that mere marijuana use equates to heavy alcohol use. Equivocate with me if you choose, my abstract point remains the same.
The problem, then, with marijuana is that it induces a state of felt happiness. Let's discuss psychological reward mechanisms. Bringing a little science in here, we can say that generally happiness is the result of the sensation produced by dopamine in the brain. Basic survival tasks have been fine tuned and balanced by millions of years of evolution to reward survival achievements: eating, sleeping, sex, social activity with an appropriate amount of dopamine. Apparently, creative thinking, strategic planning is a uniquely human survival mechanism also rewarded.
There's more to it! With memory and conceptual thinking, we can associate these building block reward mechanisms with abstract spiritual successes. When Jesus talks about hunger and the bread of life, he equates the sensation of pure joy a starving person receives from having bread with the abstraction of a spiritual starvation and a spiritual feast.
The point is that this mechanism is real, and physiological, but it's the foundation of all our abstract and spiritual pursuits as well.
I concur that people *can* use marijuana and be functional and purposeful people. However, this is often not the case despite exceptions, and there are downsides not often discussed.
What drugs, including marijuana and alcohol for that matter do is that they induce a dopamine release related not to any act or achievement (that's natural and proper) but rather to the act of usage and using the drug itself. This throws the reward mechanism out of whack.
With heavy drugs, like heroine or cocaine, you see people destroy themselves and those they love because of this interrupted reward loop.
But, even marijuana has a bad effect. A person can still have a purpose while using, but marijuana consumes much more of that reward function than a mere 'thing you do' should. This means that you are wasting 'purpose' resources no matter what when you use.
Granted, let's say you grew up in a crappy household. Psychologically, you might be devoting so many resources to coping with that that drug use might actually free up resources by suppressing the effect of those issues. This isn't a good argument for drugs, if you can't gather.
So drugs interfere with your basic moral purpose and happiness mechanism. And this in turn prevents healthy moral and emotional growth.
Consider the way users act:
1. They are hyper defensive about their drug use. Why is this? Think about how you would feel if a beloved relative died? That person is a source of happiness and being in your life. Marijuana induces an artificial happiness, and so it takes on the role of an artificial loved one. Hence, many (not all) legalizes are hyper defensive. Losing their beloved grass scares them immensely.
2. Lack of self-awareness. It is well documented that marijuana can induce paranoid thinking. This isn't a political comment. I'm just making the point that I know users personally who get wrapped up in unrealistic ideas and have no self-awareness. Yeah, people can indeed lack self-awareness, but marijuana seems to be forcibly, chemically driving a certain lack of self awareness in people. That includes an awareness of the negative effects of using. Linking to point #1, people's state of fear over losing marijuana is chemically induced by the drug's effect on the brain, but people don't realize this. The feeling comes from their brain chemistry, and they act in response to it, but they have no rational, conceptual awareness of their hyper-defensiveness.
Those are just two examples of the sort of effects drugs have on the brain.
It's immoral because the reward process is so foundational to the greater moral purpose of pursuing virtue and a better life.
From a political perspective, the law doesn't have a place using coercive violence against drug users. But that's a general point that is so much broader than the issue of drugs.
Plus, despite my light-handed approach to this issue, drugs do in fact cause enormous harm to people and communities - this is just a fact. I like more foundational abstract arguments, but the basic pragmatic one works pretty well too.
So, that's my argument.
Like I said, we probably drink alcohol too much, but hey we do it. So, if a marijuana user is reading this, I might expect at least someone to think: "You know, he's pretty much right, but of course a vice is a vice and there's no mortal sin in a little smoke here and there." That's all I'm getting at.
Of course, if my argument is very valid, people will freak out in defense of their drug use and call me names.
I've thought about it just a bit more.
The idea is that morality is thought of in terms of general principles that inspire moral growth in a direction, as opposed to black and white. It isn't about demonization or 'drugs are bad'.
It's about, which direction do you want to go in.
I'm saying we should go in that direction of greater balance. Balance between physiology and spirituality. We have to eat, and sleep, and so forth. It affects our chemistry and therefore psychology. So we should try to be healthy so our chemistry is balanced. This means more spiritual energy to pursue the heights, if you will.
It's very clear that drug use is an unhealthy, unbalancing activity. That's what I'm trying to say.
While, therefore, drugs aren't 'bad' so-to-speak, I think I can legitimately argue for treating them with extreme reservation.