LETTER: A missing piece of the marijuana conversation

A glaringly missing piece of the public conversation about the legalization of marijuana is not about the drug, but the pattern of use.

A glaringly missing piece of the public conversation about the pending legalization of marijuana is not about the drug, but the pattern of use (if highly frequent), which is what makes it most commonly harmful. The immediate effects of various drugs are more unique in each case but the longer term pattern-of-use effects are not. When people regularly use a drug to turn down the discomfort of facing life, they are losing the only way we actually tend to change. We are less likely to eventually learn from experience, problem-solve and grow.

We all naturally moderate stress somewhat with momentary busyness or distraction, but using a drug turns it down for many hours and usually into sleep. Furthermore tranquilizers, narcotics, or more than a small dose of alcohol and marijuana also suppress dream sleep, where more critical sorting-out and processing occurs. People who use a drug regularly remain stuck, with habitual and emotionally immature reactions to the human situation as a learned early coping mechanism.

This pattern gets in the way of developing more effective ones. Who we really are is more about our personal and emotional development than it is about our level of formal education. This is not the only issue about marijuana but the one missing from the conversation. It is even more critical with respect to youth, who will self-select more often when vulnerable due to difficult brain chemistry and/or childhoods. Early use of drugs leads to earlier developmental stagnation with unconscious early childhood strategies more likely for life.

My comments are based on my own personal experience as a child of the ‘60s, including watching friends evolve, or not over the years, and the privilege of over 20 years of professional experience, in outpatient mental health.

Dr. Andre C. Piver, Procter

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