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Does smoking pot makes you lazy? Possibly. | Opinion

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EDITOR’S NOTE: On Jan. 15, NJ Cannabis Insider hosts a newsmakers networking event in Red Bank, featuring a legislator and business leaders in the hemp and legal cannabis industries. Tickets are limited.

By Jake McGowan

Popular opinion seems to work in a cyclical way; look no further than the current discourse on marijuana, its impacts and its legalization.

For essentially the entirety of the 20th century — and truly, after Nixon debuted his failure of a war on drugs — marijuana was demonized as a gateway drug. Who can forget the 1936 film Reefer Madness, which shows our beloved, wholesome American youth going insane after taking a puff of that dastardly grass?

Clearly, the 20th century views on marijuana are antiquated and, frankly, incorrect. However, broader society has overcompensated for the archaic thought processes of yore; marijuana is now viewed quite the opposite of how it used to be, and it is no longer destructive “dope”, but a cure-all and, unequivocally, a good thing.

With legalization on the ballot in New Jersey in November — a failure by the state legislature and, more specifically, Gov. Phil Murphy not fulfilling a campaign promise — a few important cautions must be raised.

While no one should be imprisoned for marijuana possession, as locking someone up for a little hash is far more criminal than possessing it, the rush to normalize pot usage should be restrained. My reasoning is simple: the wax cart.

Back in the 60s, when hippies were pioneering marijuana’s usage, inhalation came with a distinction: a pungent, skunk-like smell. This made smoking quite difficult unless the user was in a field or other open space. Basically, the drug had an intrinsic limitation. You couldn’t smoke a bowl at work, at school, in your dorm or at a family function without it being completely obvious to everyone around you.

With the advent of vaping and wax carts – or vaping cartridges — and consequently vaping THC — that limitation is gone. Largely scentless, users can vape marijuana almost anywhere, anytime.

The most fervent marijuana supporters may not take issue with this; rather, they may celebrate it. Personally, I believe it’s a major problem. If people can get high in the bathroom at school, in the seclusion of their own rooms, or within their workplace cubicle without anybody knowing, the number of “stoners” will increase considerably.

Marijuana is not physically addictive, this is common knowledge. The problem arises with marijuana’s high: it is very slight. It won’t send you convulsing on the floor, it won’t have you fighting adversaries that don’t exist and it won’t cause you to hurt the people you love. Instead, it will slow you down slightly. It will make your mind foggier, and it will make you — and I am totally prepared to be accused of being a square — lazy.

As the high is so mellow, users don’t consider it an addiction. Instead, it’s just another thing they add to their daily routine, as they would a cup of coffee or a cigarette.

This attitude toward normalization is already having an impact on teens. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), teenage marijuana use is at its highest rate in 30 years. While the drug may not be dangerous, it’s not harmless, as the AACAP points out. Marijuana use by teens can cause school difficulties, memory and concentration problems, increased aggression, car accidents, and increased risk of psychosis, to name a few side effects.

A common argument against legalizing marijuana is that prohibition didn’t work. But in some ways, it did. Alcohol consumption actually did fall in a big way, and along with it, alcohol related illnesses. According to an old piece in The New York Times, cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911, and 10.7 per 100,000 in 1929. This isn’t to say that marijuana causes any type of disease as vicious as cirrhosis, but the medical data does back that consumption of alcohol went down.

According to that same Times piece, violent crime remained steady during prohibition. While organized crime became more conspicuous during prohibition, it existed both before and after prohibition, showing that banning a drug is not the end-all-be-all of a criminal syndicates’ existence.

I am not arguing for a prohibition. Rather, I believe that marijuana needs to be decriminalized. It is true that drug laws have been historically used to discriminate against low-income and minority communities, and I find it vile that they have been used to demonize and destroy communities. That said, we must not overcompensate with idealistic delusions that marijuana — a drug like any other — is harmless.

Jake McGowan is a sophomore at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, as well as the opinions editor for the student paper there, The Daily Targum.

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Does smoking pot makes you lazy? Possibly. | Opinion marijuana lazy op ed EDITOR’S NOTE: On Jan. 15, NJ Cannabis Insider hosts a newsmakers networking event in Red Bank, featuring a