From yesterday's NY Magazine.
Marijuana and Moderation
Just a couple of thoughts about the newish backlash to marijuana legalization. It’s an extremely good thing that people are following events on the ground, to see what impacts legalization has had, and to examine what it means that the THC content of commercial weed is much greater than most (but not all) of it historically was. We should track teenage rates of use and where the drug can do most harm to the developing brain. We should monitor crime carefully. And, yes, schizophrenics are well advised to stay away from strong weed. This is not new. We’ve known that for a very long time — even if we don’t really know what’s causation and correlation.
But the new book by Alex Berenson, uncritically lauded by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker? It’s been so thoroughly debunked — see here, here and here — that I don’t need to restate the case. It fails even to engage the strongest arguments on the other side. In this magazine, Jesse Singal picked Berenson apart, with Berenson finally conceding that his core point is unproven: “We don’t know yet whether cannabis is actually driving the violent crime increases in these states.” But the truly stunning thing about the book is how closely its rhetoric resembles the hilarious claims of the 1936 movie, Reefer Madness. The very title of the book, Tell Your Children, is actually a direct quote from the movie. The notion that smoking weed leads to countless people suddenly becoming violent and going on killing rampages is present in both anti-marijuana tracts — as is the scary idea of the madness-inducing demon, unleashing itself on an unsuspecting nation. It’s close to laughable. We still have zero overdoses, and no sign of increase in teen use. If you think the murder and assault rate is soaring because of pot legalization, well, read this.
But I do think some reflection on how superstrong weed is different than milder varieties in the past is overdue. Maybe it’s because people know they can’t overdose that leads them to push their weed hit into the stratosphere. But watching someone “dab” concentrated pot resin — i.e. vaporize it and inhale — has more of a crack vibe than weed. More to the point, a couple of dabs and you can’t really do much in the way of conversation. My first dabbing experience — and I’m not JV — was with a longtime friend, and we usually kick off long, digressive conversations with weed. But dabbing it made me want to go to bed to escape all the sounds and sights around me. It ended the conversation. It even made watching a movie unbearable. Dabbing or smoking super-high concentrates of THC doesn’t encourage sociability; it doesn’t allow a conversation to unfold and expand as milder weed slowly does; it also chips away at weed’s longtime culture of generosity, calm, and mellowness. More is often, in my experience, less.
Which means — guess what? — moderation is the key. There’s a difference between a meal where a bottle of red wine is slowly consumed, and an endless round of shots to get fucked up as quickly as you can. It seems to me that we’ll find a balancing point in due course. Perhaps high THC consumption gets you high more efficiently and pays for itself — but most people interested in smoking don’t want to be incapacitated and the benefit of legalization is that, sooner or later, the market will surely offer milder, subtler varieties. My medical card has opened up a whole world of nuance and choice unavailable before. I’ve found myself looking for lower THC levels, merely to help me sleep or enhance hanging with friends.
We’re learning. If concentrating drugs is a function of prohibition, maybe legalization could lead to a kinder, gentler high.
I copied and pasted part of Sullivan's piece because it is from his mostly political Intelligencer.