HJ: While I don’t personally agree with everything Dr. Cousens says in this article, I think its worth posting due to the fact that he makes important, valid points on the actual effects of marijuana on the brain. There has been a slew of articles on the net lately praising marijuana (the drug, not the plant) as a cure-all miracle… While it does have medicinal benefits to an extent, these are not without serious hazards. Knowing this, I feel its my duty to at least raise people’s awareness about the true mental-spiritual effects of the drug. Truth will prevail…
Marijuana is currently a hot topic in the media. Several states, including my home state of Arizona, will be voting on this issue in November. I for one am opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana and its use for “medical” purposes for a number of reasons, physical, social, and spiritual.
In 1973 I published a paper in Psychopharacologia entitled “THC as an Hypnotic”. This was a double blind hospital study showing that THC could be used successfully as a hypnotic in cases of insomnia. It is clear in retrospect, that I was showing THC in marijuana as an element that puts you to sleep rather than elevating consciousness. In my 40 years of clinical experience, I am clear that the use of marijuana disrupts adrenal function and is associated with increased amounts of hypoglycemia. The munchies effect of smoking cannabis is a sign of this adrenal disruption.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active chemical in cannabis. While THC and other chemicals in marijuana can reduce pain and nausea, they do this by destroying very sensitive brain cells related to perception and coordination. The drug is highly toxic and literally destroys the brain. Given the importance of brain health for concentration, meditation, and spiritual growth, marijuana use threatens the integrity of all aspects of our health and spiritual wellbeing.
The symptoms of THC brain damage include distorted perception, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and memory difficulty. These are short-term side effects, but long-term marijuana use has been shown to increase activity of stress response and to alter the activity of dopamine containing nerve cells. In short this diminishes motivation and perseverance in work, relationships, and on the spiritual path. While some people mistakenly believe this to be a more evolved state on non-attachment or emptiness, it is, in reality, a numbness to life that inhibits our full expression.
In fact, many studies indicate a connection between chronic marijuana use and higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, and schizophrenia. The younger a person is at first use, the more likely these unhealthy mental states are to emerge. While development of the human brain, on average, continues until the age of 40, chronic marijuana use retards this development, creating socially and spiritually immature individuals.
Additionally, smoking cannabis, increases risk of heart-attack by four times, within an hour of its use. Cannabis smoke contains 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, and regular use has been shown to disregulate the growth of epithelial cells the lungs. Regular pot smokers miss more work and are generally less productive than those who do not partake. Considering that we are called to service to God, humanity, and the earth through our jobs, how can we justify consuming something that will negatively impact this service.
Regarding marijuana’s purported medical use for glaucoma, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, there is much misinformation being propagated. The Glaucoma Foundation has stated, “Medical experts believe that marijuana only lowers intraocular pressure for several hours, requiring patients to continuously medicate day and night. Failing to do so can lead to a rebound spike in eye pressure, which can be damaging.” They also warn that marijuana decreases blood flow to the optic nerve, causing further damage.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society states on its website that it does not recommend marijuana use, because it is no better than existing medications, and it can worsen coordination and memory. The medical benefits of marijuana use are being oversold. Even the AMA, while supporting research to develop non-smoked cannabinoid medications, does not support smoking marijuana or the medical marijuana laws.
Summarily, marijuana use increases inertia, disease, social chaos (especially amongst vulnerable teenagers), car and motorcycle accidents (by 9.5 times), and crime. Its negative impact on brain cells inhibits our ability to maintain consistent communion with God, humanity, and Nature. In short it makes us physically weak, psychically suggestible, emotionally immature, and socially inept. This is why a vote for legalizing marijuana is a vote to weaken ourselves and our society, physically, mentally, and spiritually.