If It Was Legal, Would You Use It?


By Gabrielle. Image taken in my back yard. Kidding! Image found here.

Question: do you have an opinion about pot?

I know very little about it, and I’ve never used it, but it’s been brought up in a dozen conversations I’ve had over the last couple of months so it’s on my mind. It seems to come up because it’s becoming legal in more and more places, and it’s also been brought up by people in my life who are using it to manage serious illness.

The discussion often turns to the history of the drug/plant, and several people have told me marijuana should never have been classed with illegal drugs in the first place, because the effects of the drug are far less harmful than many legal substances.

So I’m wondering, as marijuana becomes legal in more places, will using it become commonplace and completely socially acceptable? If you’ve never tried it, and marijuana becomes legal where you live, will you give it go? And if you already use it once in awhile, do you think you’ll make it a more regular thing if/when it’s legal in your state?

I was thinking about why I’ve never tried it and I could identify three reasons. First, it’s been illegal for most of my life and I tend to have rule-following instincts. I have zero idea of how and where to even buy marijuana. Second, in Mormon culture, illegal drugs of any kind are a big no no. Even legal substances like alcohol and tobacco aren’t consumed. And third, I tend to resist anything that I perceive as possibly making me feel out of control. Hah! So drug use in general has never been tempting for me.

The Mormon aspect has me especially curious. There’s really nothing specific about marijuana in Mormon doctrines about health and diet. Tobacco is mentioned. Alcohol is mentioned. But we don’t call out cocaine or meth or heroin or marijuana — grouping them all instead under “illegal drugs”. So if pot becomes widely legal, will Mormons feel free to use it or still feel like it’s taboo?

I’m also fully aware that most Americans steer clear of illegal drugs. It’s not just a Mormon thing. So I’m wondering about the population at large. Will people that have never considered using an illegal drug make a mental switch with marijuana and put it on their “approved” list? While it’s been illegal for us, will it be normal for our grown kids?

What’s your take? Do any of you feel strongly that it should NOT be legal? Or the opposite, do any of you feel strongly that it should never have been illegal? If you live in a place where it is legal, have you found there is still hesitation from the population about using it recreationally — even legal, does it carry a bad reputation? Do you talk to your kids about avoiding pot the same way you talk to them about other drugs? Or does marijuana feel different to you? If it’s legal but I still have no interest, does that make me close-minded (or maybe just old)?

Or, do you have a better framework for thinking about legal/illegal drug use? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Good gracious. I just had to look up how to properly spell marijuana. Clearly I’m out of my depth here. : ) I’m sure I sound like an idiot even admitting to be thinking of this, but what I can say? I’m curious. Also, related, this video of 3 grandmothers smoking weed for the first time has been making the Facebook rounds.

122 thoughts on “If It Was Legal, Would You Use It?”

  1. Thanks for opening up this line of conversation, Gabrielle! So interesting to consider all the possibilities.

    Like you, I have never tried pot (too much of a rule-follower), and I’m not sure if I would if it were legal in a place I call home. I suppose I never considered it as something I would try, though I am not opposed to it being a legal substance.

    We have lived in The Netherlands where marijuana is legal. When we first moved there, my mom was shocked that we could be out on the street with our toddler. Wouldn’t she be exposed to all that pot? The answer was a laugh and a big no. I smelled it far less often there than I do back in the States where it has been illegal. The only people I saw using it (and abusing it) were tourists. For the Dutch people I knew, it was a non-issue, a choice people were free to make for themselves in their own time and space. That seemed a fantastic approach.

    I look forward to hearing what your other readers have to say!

  2. Gabrielle,
    I am happy to be the first to comment because I have a very strong opinion! My brother-in-law is a classic case of smoking cannabis and ruining his life from cannabis onset schizophrenia. He went from a normal teenager to someone who can barely function. Albeit, the reason he can’t get out of bed in the morning is from the heavy psycho-something drugs he is on to control his mental illness, but these drugs do keep him from being aggressive. For those who would say that his schizophrenia didn’t come from the cannabis (which, by the way, is way easier to spell) just need to look at the research that is being done in this area. And this all happened 15 years ago – when the strains of cannabis had less THC than they do now. (I’m from BC where I believe we are famous for our BC Bud!)

    I won’t say that other things like alcohol aren’t bad as well, but at least alcohol is eaten, where it is absorbed by our digestive system slowly. When something is smoked, its going directly into our bodies and the effect of the active ingredient (and the addictive action) is way, way stronger.

    As for the Moromon rules, I would think that the spirit of the law is what should be looked at, and not the specifics of what is said. At least that is what we Catholics are told!

    Perhaps there is a place for the use of cannabis by adults where their brains are fully developed (the research is pointing to 25) but I really ask why people are pushing cannabis when we are all so happy to get rid of tobacco.

    And, something just occurred to me…do cannabis and cannibal have the same root?
    That would be weird. (and then there is the cannabis cannibal, but don’t look that one up unless you have a strong stomach)

  3. It’s interesting to me that even as social acceptance of smoking cigarettes declines, smoking pot is becoming more ok. For me personally, I wouldn’t use it for the same reason I don’t smoke or drink. Those are all things that harm the body more than help. That said, I do believe that in certain conditions, like undergoing chemo, using pot can be helpful.

    (And no the etymology isn’t the same for cannibal and cannabis. Cannibal comes from Caribes. It originally referred to a specific tribe that allegedly ate human flesh. OED word nerd here!)

    1. “It’s interesting to me that even as social acceptance of smoking cigarettes declines, smoking pot is becoming more ok.”

      I find it interesting too. I wonder what sort of damage pot does to your lungs in comparison to cigarettes? Is cannabis a carcinogen? I’m also wondering which is more addictive?

      1. The American Lung Association claims that smoking marijuana is actually more harmful than smoking tobacco, containing more carcinogens and depositing more tar.

        However several studies have claimed it’s less harmful – I’m not an expect, but I think the contradiction comes from the different way in which marijuana and cigarettes are used (because it would not be possible for most people to function normally enough to use cannabis while at work or attempting to be productive, whereas cigarettes have comparatively few behavioural effects). Studies refer to ‘low to moderate use’ of cannabis vs being a regular cigarette smoker, and the vast majority of cannabis users would, I think, only partake once or twice a week maximum (and one or two spliffs a time), as opposed to a regular tobacco smoker going through 10+ cigarettes a day.

        So health-wise it’s ‘a lot of something bad’ vs ‘less of something worse’, perhaps.

        1. I’ve read that when given a choice between heroin and sugar water, lab rats choose sugar water over and over again. Crazy!

      2. I was going to say something similar except for me, it doesn’t even reach into the social aspect. Smoking is bad for you. Period. This has been proven and it’s no different just because you are smoking a joint and not a cigarette.

        I’ve smoked pot recreationally in the past, but I stopped when I started trying to get pregnant with my first child. That was five years ago, and occasionally I think it might be nice to sit down, watch TV and smoke a joint, but my need to be present in case anything goes awry in my household overrides that desire. I know people who smoke pot regularly while engaged in tasks which require you to be present and responsible, and somehow they an get away with it (practically speaking), but it’s just not for me.

        1. “. . . occasionally I think it might be nice to sit down, watch TV and smoke a joint, but my need to be present in case anything goes awry in my household overrides that desire.”

          This is true for me with Benadryl! HA! Sometimes I think it would be so nice to take some Benadryl when I’m having an allergy attack or an allergric reaction, but my need to be present and able to wake up and not be groggy in the morning overrides that desire.

          If not for several other reasons, that right there would keep me from marijuana. HA!

    2. Actually, studies have shown alcohol in moderation is beneficial. Look at the mediterranean diet. The cultures to which it is native drink red wine for the most part. My 91-year-old Sicilian father has been drinking red wine since he was a child. He works out three times a day, is sharp as a tack, and has perfect heart health.

  4. One of the reasons I stopped smoking pot way back when was because I became aware of how dangerous the illegal drug trade was – both for people where the drugs were grown and people who got messed up in trafficking. So now that it’s becoming legal in more and more places and being cultivated in safe and supervised ways, yes, I will definitely partake from time to time. And I’m happy that people are legally able to use it medically to ease their suffering. I mean, why not?

    1. I hear you. Regarding the illegal drug trade, I was thinking of the frustrating state of our prison system, and how many inmates are there for repeated pot use, and guessing that legalizing marijuana would improve things.

      1. Yes, the War on Drugs turned into the War on the Black community, with Blacks making up about 40% of the prison population (while being only 12-13% of the whole American population). Having lived in San Francisco for 47 years I have known many white people — friends, acquaintances — who sometimes possessed, used, and occasionally sold drugs, mostly marijuana, though also LSD, mescaline, that sort of thing in the 1960s. And I never knew even One of them to go to prison. In fact, they’re all middle class, and some degree of “professionals”. Eric Garner, a black man, was killed for selling “illegal” cigarettes. Definitely a double standard of justice. I smoked marijuana for a couple of years in my 20s. Then I got pregnant and stopped. Then I got too old to care. Now herbal tea is my strongest drug. (cause caffeine is an addictive drug too, right?) I don’t believe marijuana is a “gateway” drug. Generally it makes a person a lot less aggressive than alcohol. It’s not without its side effects, but not nearly as bad — health-wise and socially/domestic violence-wise as alcohol. Personally, I think it’s a good thing to legalize it. my 3 cents.

  5. These are interesting questions, ones that I’ve also thought about. While many states are changing their policies, the policies in place for many corporations haven’t caught up to state laws. If you are drug tested for work, a company can decide not to employ you if you test positive for maryjuana even if it’s legal in the state you live in. This brings an additional complication into the debate.

  6. I have been thinking about this as well. I would never use it. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink energy drinks. I don’t take diet pills that speed up my heart. There are so many substances, legal and otherwise, that alter the human body physically or psychologically that really should just be avoided….
    UNLESS. And I wrote it big because it is a big unless.
    Unless it is the safest medical solution. Some of the painkillers regularly used in our hospitals today are much harsher on our bodies both physically and psychologically. If this were the best, safest, least addictive option for pain management in a difficult medical situation, I would use it in a heartbeat. (I would still feel a little rebellious though.)
    I wonder if our children will begin to see some of the prescription drugs our generation has taken without a thought as taboo. They are already so widely used illegally.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with Emily here. There are substances being sold and marketed to teens that are legal and in my mind dangerous, energy drinks are what I think of in particular. I also agree with the point made about what we are given as prescriptions and their chemical make up and would feel much more comfortable using a natural substance to help ease my discomfort medically.

      That said, I am also LDS and would not take to consuming/inhaling pot recreationally. I do place it in the same classification as alcohol (although I know you behave differently consuming alcohol and pot comparatively) as being a mind altering substance that inhibits your ability to make sound judgement and function normally. I do believe it is addictive (I think most anything can be) and I do try to keep myself free from addiction.

      Ironically though I would support action to legalize it and see it monitored and sold in a way that is better for our society and economy. I recognize that with issues like this there aren’t squeaky clean solutions either way. Pornography to an extent is legal and I believe it causes great harm to adolescent and adult alike. Alcohol is legal and there are many that struggle with alcohol addiction. I just feel it is a better way to handle something that is in use very commonly any way and have the opportunity to draw some more realistic and possibly productive lines around its use.

    2. “I wonder if our children will begin to see some of the prescription drugs our generation has taken without a thought as taboo. They are already so widely used illegally.”

      I hadn’t thought of that, Emily, but I can totally see it happening!

  7. Ok I totally get that it has medicinal properties, and someone I know says it’s the best anti-depressant she’s ever tried. But it baffles me that people think it’s ok to smoke it for medicinal purposes. Take it in a pill or eat it, but smoking is bad for your lungs, no matter what the substance is, right?

    But no, I wouldn’t use it. The whole realm of recreational drugs is foreign to me. But I mean, I don’t even take tylenol for a headache, and I refused Vicodin when I had my wisdom teeth out. So, Gabrielle, as you resist things that make you feel out of control, I resist things that alter my physiological processes in general.

      1. I live in a state where medicinal (Prescription) marijuana is legal. Many patients are finding great pain and nausea relief (a lot of cancer patients are helped) without the side effects of made made medications. There are actually loads of way to receive the medicinal effects without smoking it that include hard candies, chocolates, drinks, baked goods, oils, capsules, and even vapors (non smoke) that are prescribed by doctors.

        1. My dear friend who had metastatic ovarian cancer got great relief from prescription marijuana in several different forms…

    1. The reason you smoke it rather than eat it or take a pill is because it can take an hour to feel the effects of the marijuana, whereas when you smoke it the effects are nearly instantaneous. As someone deals with chronic pain let me say that that kind of relief is worth it’s weight in gold, although I limit my usage to only a handful of times a month. Using it also helps me give my kidneys a break from Ibuprofen/Vicodin.

      Also, I too declined Vicodin when my wisdom teeth were pulled, I even abstained after my Gallbladder was removed. I wish I would never need painkillers or marijuana but sometimes the pain is too unbearable to function.

  8. No, I wouldn’t use it if it were legal. I have, in the way past, smoked pot and liked it but I have no interest in going there (or smoking cigs, or drinking to the point of drunkenness). I have several people in my life who smoke A LOT of pot and it seems to sap their ambition, drive, and general desire to get outside and do something. What’s the appeal? Also, conversations with seriously stoned people (when you are not) seem far too similar to conversations with my 89yo MIL who has age-related dementia.

    1. You are ok with drinking but not getting drunk. Yet you are not familiar with the concept of smoking pot and not becoming an unambitious, unintelligible, boring stoner. Try some portion control (something all americans seems to struggle with) and maybe you will enjoy the effects of relaxation, open minded-ness, and self enlightenment. More importantly, don’t perpetuate the face of those who smoke as tie-dye wearing, dreadlock hairstyle, part time job holding, slackers. I don’t associate people who drink with the wife abusing, child neglecting, unemployable, beer consuming alcoholics. Stoners are no better than alcoholics, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid the substance all together just because some abuse it.

  9. Even if it were legal, I would not choose to use it recreationally because largely, I am frugal. My life is generally good, so why pay for a way to change that? I drink rarely for the same reason. Plus, as a mom with two under two I don’t have time for showers everyday let alone sitting around smoking pot.

    1. Jennifer,
      I hadn’t thought about this before, but your mention of your little ones brought it to mind – I wonder what happens to the baby when a pregnant mother smokes pot?

  10. I think we are going to find that legalizing pot (WAY easier to spell!) is going to be far more complicated that anyone imagines. We can’t just say “It’s legal, let’s party!” There are so many issues that must be worked out.
    First, the smoke (and smell). We all know by now that second-hand cigarette smoke is harmful. Pot smoke may be more “natural” but it is far more unpleasant smelling. There are many places where cigarette smoking isn’t allowed, and pot smoking will need to be included in that. There are many stories of neighbors, especially in apartment buildings, who cannot abide the smell that is forced on them through shared ventilation systems.
    Second, there is not definitive test to determine the strength of pot. Breeds vary widely in their potency. One joint from breed A might have a very different effect that breed B. Then someone goes and gets in their car. What is their impairment level? We are very scientific with our alcohol regulations (efficacy to be debated) with proofs, alcohol content and Blood Alcohol Levels, but there are no measurements in place for pot. In my town, an young man who had smoked some pot and then went for a drive was distracted and drove up the back of a car in front of him, killing the two passengers. He could not be charged with anything like a DUI, because there is no way to test for that with pot.
    Additionally, pot that is baked or cooked into foods poses not only the hazards mentioned above as far as potency, but have the added danger of looking delicious to a child. There have already been numerous cases in states where pot is legal of children being taken to the emergency room for overdosing.
    All that being said, if we can work all of that out, I think legalizing pot should be considered, but I really hope my neighbor doesn’t decide to fire up a doobie in his backyard where I can smell it.

  11. After reading some of the comments above I’m questioning whether or not to even continue but here it goes. I was raised Mormon though I no longer am a member. I am also a mother, wife, full time employee, and what I consider a productive member of society, (I work full time, pay taxes, volunteer in my community, etc.) I live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical use, and I myself use it daily for medical purposes. However, were it fully legal and I did not have the medical need I would be okay with continuing to use it for recreational purposes, much like alcohol. As with any drug, some people have lower/higher tolerances than others, and while there will always be the stereotype of the burned out pothead, (some people are just generally lazier than others) there are plenty of productive, ambitious, and intelligent people who use marijuana. If you’re interested in researching more I would recommend the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, norml.org as a good starting off point.

    1. Thank you for this response. I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about marijuana especially amongst those who have no, or very little, experience with it. I have smoked it in the past and it made me paranoid so I do not use it. But, that’s my physiology. I know, and have known, plenty of brilliant, creative, and responsible people who smoke to little detriment to their health. I have heard that the strength grown these days is much higher than it was in 70s-80s.

  12. I smoked pot for maybe total of 10 times for 36 years of my entire life. I honestly loved it every time. The whole idea behind alcohol or marijuana is to use it in moderation!! For pot , to me that means maybe once in 3 months or even less….It is illegal to sell it in Serbia, but it is legal to have few grams with you!! I have never ever bough pot ( I also have no idea where to get it!) but if someone offered it at the friends house or party I would take it. People can develop addiction on anything, drugs, sugar, coca-cola, sex… Hemp ( has less THC then marijuana) has been mentioned in Bible, and it has been used for various purposes thru centuries.

      1. that’s funny, because in the Netherlands you can sell it, but your not allowed to grow it (excepting small amounts for personal use)! just goes to show how little governments know what they’re doing sometimes :-)

  13. AS for my kids( I have 6 and 9 y old) I would teach them to be honest with me , to tell me when they want to try it( all kids eventually do!!) and to to use it with caution! Same as with all other issues in life, I can not hide world around them , nor do I think that if something is illegal it is not safe…

  14. My father in law used it daily for years until he had cardiac problems and his cardiologist told him that smoking pot is much much worse on your lungs and body than smoking regular cigarettes. I believe he said one pot cigarette was the equivalent of five regular ones. Very interesting. He also is one of the least ambitious unhappy people I know. I am myself a rule kind of girl so even if it was for medical purposes I think I would feel guilty.

      1. Thank for the link, interesting. It said for infrequent use it was not as damaging but at the end they said that heavy use or longterm over many years it was the opposite. He had longterm heavy use so it seems his cardiologist was in fact correct.

    1. There are also other ways to consume marijuana. Many people using it for medical reasons use vaporizers, edibles, etc…

  15. I have to laugh at–and totally agree with–Jennifer’s comment–with young kids and a full time job, I don’t have time to sit around smoking pot, nor do I want anything to inhibit my functioning at less than 100%. Having lived in Mexico, I would like to see legalization affect the drug trade in a positive way, although I think it will be decades before we see that play out. Other than that, I don’t have strong feelings one way or another on legalization. I do have strong feelings on pot use, however–I have seen family members’ lives severely inhibited by their pot use, and although the term “gateway drug” seems dated, I have also seen them move on to pills and other drugs as a result. At the same time, I don’t know that it was pot per se that was the problem, or whether they would have had issues with any substance because of deeper underlying emotional issues, etc. So while I can understand making it legal, I won’t be using or condoning its use in my home any time soon.

    1. I’ve been thinking about your gateway drug comment, Laura. I think that has been true in the past, and I wonder if it will stop filling that role when it’s legal and doesn’t seem as daring to try. Your comment has my brain going!

  16. I have never smoked anything but have made the comment I think I would enjoy smoking a joint more than a cigarette. If it was legal, I might be curious to try it once.

  17. I strongly believe that it is a heck of a lot better for you in a medical sense, than most of the drugs prescribed by doctors out there. I truly believe the drug companies also don’t want people to know this. I would much rather use medical marijuana than all those drugs in the commercials that come with 500 side effects. You don’t have to use a strain that makes you high. Here is one good use of it for medical research. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte%27s_Web_%28cannabis%29

    I am sure there are thousands more.

    1. Interesting point, Cass. I wonder if part of why marijuana is gaining acceptance, relates to our cultural embracing of more natural foods and products and a rejection of chemically altered substances.

      And I didn’t know there were strains of pot that don’t make you high!

      1. But how is someone to know how their pot was grown? Is it GMO free, organic? If demand is spiking what is preventing “farmers” from using modern farming techniques?

  18. You guys bring up so many good points I’d never thought of. From an economic point of view, I think “heck yeah-more tax revenue” and I would hope it would help with our horrible prison overcrowding issues. Personally, I’m such a goody-goody I only tried it twice in my college years-and it didn’t “do” anything for me. I hate the smell, (and also hate the cigarette smell) so legal or not, I’m not trying it again, unless I need it for medical reasons.

    1. But would it really bring in more tax revenue overall??? Sure, the initial sale of the drug would bring in tax dollars, but how much will be spent on addiction control, studies to determine how much is too much to drive, new laws put in place to tell people where they can smoke it, and all the other “issues” that arise because of the legalization. I don’t know the answer. Maybe we would still end up in the black, but who knows.

  19. I would NEVER drink and drive or smoke weed and drive, but if you FORCED me to, I would rather drive under the influence of pot than a few glasses of wine. It’s much less “altering” for me than booze.

    I (illegally) smoke it occasionally here in NYC. Mostly, though, I’m high on life! (#dork)

    1. A couple of thoughts:
      1) A dear family member really struggled with nausea associated with chemotherapy. The medical pot she used was a game-changer. And why do we put so much trust in synthetic chemicals while this plant is so stigmatized?
      2) I remember distinctly having the conversation with my parents when I was a teen that if I HAD to indulge at a party, they’d prefer I used marijuana instead of drinking. Think of the physiology – sleepy and hungry vs. crazy and wild.
      I find the residual “fuzziness” too much of a bother to use regularly, but I think it is really important to talk about it and recognize that it maybe isn’t the illicit, dangerous, substance it has been previously characterized as.

      1. Hi Jean. I like how you stated this:

        “but I think it is really important to talk about it and recognize that it maybe isn’t the illicit, dangerous, substance it has been previously characterized as.”

        I find myself agreeing.

  20. I live in Colorado, where recreational pot is now legal. It’s frustrating to me that the effects of pot on adolescents is rarely discussed, but I see the other Heidi has mentioned it. Both alcohol and pot have much more adverse effects on young people than on people over around 25. The image of the pothead 30-year-old living in his parents basement is real because the brain–and body–essentially stops developing and growing with moderate to heavy use. (Have you ever noticed that “potheads” are almost always physically small–like an adolescent?) Bottom line, I don’t know how the legalization will play out. But I worry that the message to adolescents is that it is cool and safe, which it is not. I did have to laugh at one thing. In Colorado, legislators had tried for years to set a blood level limit or some sort of qualifier, for impaired driving, but it could never get any traction. As soon as pot was legalized, some form of the bill sailed through both houses. Unintended consequence, I’m sure!

  21. I too am LDS and though cannabis isn’t mentioned specifically I think most who are trying to keep the word of wisdom would not take it, at least in the smoking/vapor form. My husband left the church 5 years ago and has been smoking pot daily for over a year. At first i hated even the thought of it- but he suffers with anxiety and it really helps him and effects him less than the pills he is prescribed. He’s just a calmer, sweeter, patient, nicer version of himself after he has “met with his constituents” after he gets home from work. We have 2 small kids and I don’t want them growing up thinking it is the norm, because I don’t think it should be. But, for someone with mental health issues, at least in my husbands case, its helpful. Still, I don’t think smoking anything is a super healthy choice. i’m conflicted all around i guess!

  22. oh and also, I live in Colorado where it’s legal. I smell it at least 5 times a day and I live in a super family centered/pretty conservative neighborhood. I can’t imagine what its like in cap hill or other more hip neighborhoods in Denver proper. You can even smell it from the highway as you pass a dispensary. It’s bad.

  23. Nope, never, ever.
    I try and stay away from addictive substances and I’ve also watched 3 family members lives ruined by the effects of 30+ years of marijuana use.

  24. My oldest son was diagnosed with schizoaffective in April of this year. If schizophrenia and bipolar had a baby it would be schizoaffective dissorder. It has been heart breaking to watch the schizophrenia take over. In December he was a typical 15 year old, he had lots of friends who he hung out with most weekends, he was first chair for the tuba and well on his way for a full ride scholarship. Since April he has not been able to attend school and has lost all but a few of his large social group. He has spent more time in the hospital then out. I have watch my son cut himself and threaten people he loves because of the voices in his head. We have tried 5 different antipsychotic with no luck. We have hope that with time we will win this battle and get him stable. This has affected our entire family and will for the rest of our lives. While his was not brought on by the use of marijuana, most cases of schizophrenia is. So to answer your question, no I would not use marijuana, nor do I think it is wise to legalize for recreational use.

    1. Your sweet son! I grew up in the same house as my Aunt Mary Lu who lived with a fairly severe case of paranoid schizophrenia. Hers came on before her teen years. But I have never heard of an association between schizophrenia and marijuana. I had no idea there was any connection.

      1. I was talking with my son psychiatrist about this just last week. A point he made was that, some cases come from a family history and very few people are like my son’s, with no genetic back ground or drug uses. The majority from what he has seen, come from marijuana. He predicts states that have legalized will see an increase in schizophrenia and other mental illness. Smoking marijuana makes you 2 times more likely to become schizophrenic. I read your article about your Aunt, I loved it! Thank you for showing the human side of this disorder. I am grateful for people who are helping to break the silence of mental illness. Thank you!

  25. I’ve tried cannabis, but it’s never been my thing; I prefer wine with dinner and the odd vodka martini. If it were legal, I still wouldn’t use it — except for medicinal reasons. I know how incredibly helpful it can be for many diseases, illnesses, and pain management. (For this reason alone, it should be legal everywhere for medicinal use, at least.)

    I had very negative views about cannabis because of kids who abused it in high school and the predominant cultural and media messages I absorbed about it. About five years ago, though, I was challenged to re-think my position and I’ve done almost a 180 after much reading and research. It’s ridiculous to me that cannabis was ever illegal — I think it should be legal and regulated. (Research suggests that the developing brain may be negatively affected by regular use so people under 23, or thereabouts, shouldn’t be using it. So, I’m a fan of treating it like alcohol.)

    Also, not all cannabis is the same. There are many, many strains and uses and different ways to ingest it safely, with few-to-no ill effects. Individuals are going to tolerate it differently, just like any other substance. I’ve read that some individuals are born with an insufficient endocannabinoid system, for example, and for these people, cannabis can be especially helpful. And the anxiolytic properties of cannabis seem pretty well documented.

    Any substance can be abused; that’s not a reason to make it illegal. The unmotivated pothead exists, but it’s also a stereotype. There are many successful, professional, smart people who use pot recreationally and medicinally–they just don’t talk about it.

    1. “About five years ago, though, I was challenged to re-think my position and I’ve done almost a 180 after much reading and research. It’s ridiculous to me that cannabis was ever illegal — I think it should be legal and regulated.”

      I relate to your story, Zoe. I think I’m in a similar place.

  26. I live in Washington State where pot is legal. I did use pot in my early 20’s but I wouldn’t consider myself a pothead. It was a social thing, I never bought pot it was always shared with me. Since pot became legal I have not had any interest in buying or using. I am not a smoker but you can buy edible pot. Pot sales seem to be a non-story around here but I did vote against it however. I would absolutely use pot for medical reasons if necessary. My experience with being high was no different then having a few drinks.

  27. Michael Pollan wrote a wonderful history of marijuana in The Botany of Desire. It is one of the four plants he explores in terms of their relationship to humans (also covered, potatoes, tulips and apples). I highly recommend the whole book, but you can read the marijuana section as a stand alone. I don’t use pot, but I found the essay fascinating.

  28. Many of you have mentioned you stopped using pot when you learned about the drug trafficking trade. If you want to get a small taste of what the drug cartels are all about watch the the movie by Vanguard Reporting called ‘Narco Wars’. It’s very well done and written for adolescent to college age students. I’m a teacher and I’ve had to watch this fascinating/unpleasant movie too many times; sometimes I wonder if the concept gets into students heads or because the subject is so removed from their everyday life they can’t empathize with whole communities on the other side of the world that fear for the lives when they grocery shop or do normal activities because of marijuana trade/wars. Marijuana and its legalization isn’t just an issue for individual states in the US , it’s really a world wide problem. The reason the Mexico is ready to collapse is because of the drug cartels. Anyway, the whole situation is mind boggling and complex.

    1. Leslie said it much better than I. I am not a pot smoker nor will I ever be, but I just voted to legalize marijuana in Oregon for the exact reasons she listed. I think there will be unpleasant problems regarding it regulations and use but they pale in comparison to the problems of the drug cartels.

  29. This is a great question and I have enjoyed reading all of the responses! Personally, I have never used illegal drugs and rarely take legal ones. I have never smoke a cigarette and never will- they are poison. I agree with all of your reasons for avoiding illegal drugs although I am not religious so I don’t have any of those guidelines to follow. I work full-time with children and when I am not at work I am with my own family which includes a teen and an almost teen- one with some challenges- for whom I feel I need to be alert, engaged and fully present. 3 other reasons I have never used drugs: 1) I work in pediatric healthcare and made that decision at age 12. So I knew from an early age that I could never get caught with drugs or I may lose my chance to work with kids. 2) I actually want to run for office someday and I want to be able to say, “No, I have never used drugs.” And 3) Probably the most serious. In Chicago several of the gangs who traffic pot sometimes lace the joints with PCP but don’t alert their customers. Not making this up. I learned it while training for a grand jury covering drug cases. So, I would never risk buying pot in Chicago and I have warned my kids that absolutely under no circumstances should they ever use pot in Chicago! I would have to grow my own if they ever wanted to try and that is not legal in Illinois.

  30. I don’t know that I could ever use cannabis. Honestly, I already have the tendency to get emotionally overwhelmed and avoid my problems. It takes a constant, mindful effort for me to maintain healthy stress-managing habits with harmless things like food and watching too much TV! Ha!…it would be a really slippery slope for me, even to use it medicinally. It also happens to be the reason I’m grateful that a Mormon upbringing generally gave me reason to steer clear of legal (but mind-altering) substances like alcohol and tobacco (though I didn’t always think so…#badattitude!)…I am almost positive I would struggle to maintain any kind of moderation if it was a part of my life. Too easy to run away and numb it all!

    I do worry a little about it becoming even more available to someone like me as a teenager with no perceived “boundary” like religious belief or illegality.

    That said, I don’t think I have a problem with making it (cannabis) a carefully controlled, legal, medicinal substance, especially as they continue to harness the positive medicinal properties and lessen the addictive and mind-altering effects. BUT always to be used with great caution and great care…not just for fun.

    1. I’m with you. Wouldn’t use it. But don’t have a problem with legalizing it. There are millions of issues so much bigger than this that I wish we would focus our time money and legal energy on.

  31. I live in Southern California. I live in a very nice community and my children attend very nice Christian schools. Marijuana, alcohol and abuse of over the counter medication is an epidemic here, not exclusive of the public school system. My son is struggling with Marijuana and is currently in therapy and recovery. It is my greatest prayer that marijuana NOT be legalized with exception of those who would medically benefit from it. Unfortunately, many 18 year olds who are juniors or seniors are obtaining medical marijuana prescriptions and then selling marijuana at school. This is a huge problem in the best of communities.

  32. Having been raised LDS but no longer a member (left ten years ago), I was shocked to discover how common place recreational use was (illegal in our state). Suddenly my preconceived notions of what a pot smoker was like – lazy! Addicted! Silly! Dangerous! – were all thrown out the window. Instead I discovered lawyers, business owners, students, parents, politicians, creatives, etc all smoked pot while maintaining productive regular lives. I would say probably 95% of the people we know use it regularly, illegally and for recreation. I have no problems with it and feel like moderate use is the equivalent of drinking alcohol.
    That said, I actually do not use it, though I have tried it. I think it should be 100% legal, nationwide.

    1. “Suddenly my preconceived notions of what a pot smoker was like – lazy! Addicted! Silly! Dangerous! – were all thrown out the window. ”

      Yes. I hope that’s happening for people around the country.

  33. I think that I am against it for recreational use, simply because I’ve known so many people who have ruined their lives. They can’t afford to buy clothes or lunch for their children and yet, they are always high. It may not make everyone behave like an idiot, but the loser pothead stereotype exists for a reason. If you need it medicinally, that’s one thing, but if you think it’s harmless you’re kidding yourself.

  34. Also, I forgot to mention, just because it’s legal in your state doesn’t mean your employer can’t fire you for violating their zero tolerance drug policy. A friend of mine smoked in the evening one night, went to work the next day, was drug tested & fired immediately.

  35. I have used pot in my 20s. I am in my 50s now. I found that after I smoked pot I was extremely lazy and incredibly hungry. Those are two traits I find to be useless so there really was no point to smoke it. If you need it for medical reasons that is a whole different story.

  36. I use pot recreationally and I adore it. It’s not legal where I live but getting it is easy and I don’t really feel bad about buying it. I am in my 30s, I have a serious job, despite my recreational pot use I’m smart and responsible, and most people are surprised to find out that I am a happy pot smoker. I don’t do it very often, a handful of times a month, but I enjoy it hugely. I have a group of friends with whom I smoke and our experiences of getting high together are some of my favorite friend experiences. We’re all successful and professional and have healthy relationships with our spouses, parents, children, siblings, and society. We are exactly like your average group of friends that gets together and drinks wine.

    It pleases me that pot is becoming legal for many reasons. I hope to be able to engage it in as a legal activity, and I hope to buy from a supply chain that isn’t a negative part of my, or any other, community. But mostly, I believe that legalizing it represents a rational approach to pot, and I feel like there are not many examples of rational policy making in the USA these days, most decisions are so emotional and/or political. This small tide of legalization seems like a worthy social experiment, and if we learn that it is too damaging to our communities then we can reverse it. However, I don’t expect that to happen because most pot smokers I know sit happily in their living rooms giggling with friends, and personally I see nothing but good in that.

  37. I am late to this conversation, but it’s so relevant to me personally at the moment. My 67 year old mom is currently trying to buy pot (illegal in her state) for my father. He is in consistent, terrible pain, and marijuana seems to help alleviate it. Marijuana also seems far less dangerous than the high-powered pain medication he otherwise has to turn to. It breaks my heart that something that brings him relief is illegal and difficult to locate because of outdated moral/religious stances.

  38. Pot (it’s the easiest to spell!) is not legal in my state. Even if it were, I would not use it. Legal does not always equal “okay.” As a believer, Proverbs 23:29-35 is my standard for thinking about intoxicants. Plus, why would anyone want to suck smoke into their lungs, some of the most delicate tissue of our body, tissue that is crucial for life? I want to preserve what I have! Life is long and I want everything working until the end…. ;-)

    1. I get that. How would you feel about a non-smoking form of pot? Like the edible or pill forms that don’t affect lungs? If you’re not smoking it, is it like ingesting a vegetable or other leafy green?

      1. My goal would be to avoid “being high” so where edibles or pills are concerned (which are quite pricey), what’s the point?

        I hear the edible market in Colorado has exploded this holiday season and manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up, so obviously, many are partaking….

  39. I am not sure where I stand on the legalization issue. It feels like choosing the less of two issues. I have never nor would I ever use it. This is an issue that I find people often look at as if it was black and white where really there are a lot grays involved. Marijuana is not with out issue or side effects. It does have an effect. It seems to some that effect is either minimal or they are not concerned by it. If a father smokes weed, it can cause birth defects in his future children for example. The problems with teens developing brains is another. Impaired driving, there are health effects and so on. On the other hand I feel the same way about alcohol and cigarettes.

  40. So I have a lot of thoughts about this, but before I get into them the disclaimer: I have smoked before, in social situations. I’ve never bought it (and wouldn’t even know how to!), and I don’t use it now, but if it became legalized I would certainly use it occasionally. I am employed, often work more than full time hours, pay taxes, have a stable relationship etc etc

    1. While the connection with schizophrenia (if it exists, I believe the science is out on this one) is tragic, I just don’t think you can legislate for an entire population based of that. There are many things that are legal that you wouldn’t want a schizophrenic person to do (own a gun or live alone immediately come to mind), but that doesn’t mean you can ban those things.

    2. It’s important to also treat this issue as a civil rights one. Although studies have found marijuana use roughly equal between whites and black, blacks are FAR more likely to be arrested for it. There haven’t been any real conclusions drawn as to whether legalization helps this (mainly because the states that have legalized have fairly low black populations), but it surely can’t hurt. For more info and lots of handy charts, check out this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/04/the-blackwhite-marijuana-arrest-gap-in-nine-charts/

    3. As I mentioned up there, I think scientific study on pot is waaaay behind many other things because it was so taboo for so long. Many people are talking about effects without citing studies, and many of the studies that are out there are from a small sample group and haven’t been replicated. Just from what we know about brain development, I’d say it’s pretty likely that it is bad for teens to use or abuse pot, but I also think we just don’t know many things about the drug-especially its comparison to tobacco.

    4. For those worried about teens using it, on a completely anecdotal basis it was a lot easier for me and my peers to obtain pot (an illegal substance) than alcohol (a legal but regulated substance) as a teen, precisely because those regulations. I believe that legalizing, but regulating pot would actually lead to a decrease in teen use.

    5. Lastly, of course some people do abuse pot. It does make some people lazy. But alcohol makes many people violent, chocolate makes many people fat, and those substances are allowed. I’m sure that most people do not want a nanny state, and at a certain point you have to let people make their own decisions, even if you think they’re stupid ones. And on a purely hypothetical note: I truly believe if everyone who abused alcohol abused marijuana instead that there would be much less domestic violence, fewer bar fights, less impaired driving (high people don’t want to go places as much), and the world would be a better place.

    If anyone read all of that I’ll be impressed!

  41. Adding one person’s opinion to this discussion … first the smell of marijuana makes me GREEN to the point of being ill, have hated since I figured out what it was. So never have smoked it and never will!

    From a societal standpoint I am concerned about this trend. First, I fall into the camp that believes today’s marijuana is much more potent than the stuff from the 60’s & 70’s and generally speaking the long term effects of modern weed have not been studied. My husband works in construction and for more than 30 years has worked with a bunch of stoners. It is his observation that stoners feel like they can “use” before and during work with no side effects but he disagrees as it shows in the quality and quantity of work produced. Personally I have witnessed a couple embrace the legal/medical marijuana movement and in the past 6 years I have watched their world crumble. Financial difficulty, job instability and significant personality changes resulting in broken relationships with family and friends. So for me another strike against.

    However .. that being said .. my dad was diagnosed and ultimately passed away from a rare cancer and as I sit here typing this I can assure you I would have done ANYTHING to help him up to and including pursuing medical marijuana had he asked (which he didn’t and likely wouldn’t) .. but the point is I would have, in an instant! Situational I know, but that’s my truth.


    1. Valerie- it is my understanding that the reason pot is more potent than it was in the 60s & 70s is because of the war on drugs that started in the 80s. When people were forced to grow their plants inside and had to use , for lack of a better term, synthetic light it actually improved the TCH levels.

  42. I grew up in hippie-filled Oregon, and so knew plenty of people who smoked pot in high school. In fact, almost all of my friends did, though I didn’t try it until college, and only smoke a total of 3 or 4 times when I was 18 and 19. Of everyone (and I even knew a kid who grew it in his closet and sold it to college kids!), I know one friend who falls into the pothead stereotype, and who I think was really negatively damaged by his extremely excessive use. I believe there are always going to be outliers and people with highly addictive personalities: We haven’t banned alcohol (um, recently) because of people who are alcoholics–most of us who aren’t restricted from drinking by religion are able to enjoy a drink or two in a completely responsible way and keep on functioning just fine. I’ve had a couple family members who struggled with alcoholism, but they also had a lot of other issues with depression, etc.

    My husband and I have a glass of red wine with dinner most nights, and I love mixing fun cocktails with friends on occasion, or getting something interesting when we are out to dinner, but I have never enjoyed being drunk, so I rarely have more than 2 drinks even if I’m at a party. I think pot should be seen the same way: Legal for adults, used responsibly, and let’s not punish everyone for the minority who struggle with addiction.

  43. Gabrielle,
    We’ve been discussing this topic a lot around my family as well. My MIL is extremely fragile. She is in pain all of the time and doctors don’t know what to do for her. We’re LDS and she is extremely faithful.
    I heard, recently, about a high school student who is on cannabis for MS. She has a prescription from her doctor, in UT, she has to get it recorded by the police, then she (or a parent maybe) drives to CO to pick up her medication. It is in a pill form and virtually all of the hallucinogenic are removed, it is nonaddicting, and she can finally live a pain-free life.
    I suggested cannabis to my MIL because of this girls situation. It’s been funny to watch how willing she is to research and how mortified my FIL and some other in-laws are with my suggestion to look into it and how excited others are with the possibilities.

    1. Yes! My brother-in-law, Steve Urquhart, is a politician in Utah and he ran and passed a medical marijuana bill last session. I know the cultural issues are hard to get over, but I think it would benefit all of us if we could think of pot as a helpful medication.

  44. I grew up in Oregon, live in Washington State (where pot is now legal), and I’m a Mormon. Here are some of my observations: I think that for the vast majority of people, pot is a fairly harmless drug, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be legalized. However, I’ve seen a few unintended consequences in WA state: slightly higher rates of DWIs (apparently people don’t realize that you can’t smoke and drive yet?), the smell of pot just about EVERYWHERE now, and how it is becoming a Big Business (similar to the tobacco industry…it seems strange to me that white businessmen will profit from something that just a couple of years ago put minorities in jail). In fact, Oregon almost didn’t pass their legalization ballot measure because of the backlash against Big Pot Business (trust me, everyone thinks in theory it should be legal!) Another thing to consider is the state revenue forecasts…which are off the charts due to taxes, other regulation fees, of pot. State of Washington is going to have some serious cash flow soon, if those projections are correct!

  45. Who can afford to smoke cigarettes much less marijuana? I look at kids smoking cigarettes when I’m out and about and wonder where they get the $$ – they are so expensive! I just don’t get it??? In the end, I am not interested in smoking anything – who wants to risk cancer and stink to boot! I’d much rather have a cocktail. :)

  46. People will do plenty of things–legal or illegal–which are stupid.

    Where does this intersect with design and motherhood? Would you like your children to use marijuana?

    If you pay attention in Sunday School, you will learn that you should avoid all addictive behavior.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top