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CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE

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Introduction
Recreational use of cannabis has become more socially accepted in western societies than ever before and has increasingly become a part of our culture (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1988-2010), the laws and education on this drug however remain unchanged and are inconsistent with more recent scientific data, accessible information and with public opinion. The contrast of available information and the dismissal of harm reduction policies have fueled the problematic use of cannabis, especially in teenagers and young adults.

History of Cannabis: Myths, Rituals and Symbols
First evidence of the existence of cannabis dates back to 8000 B.C.; it has long formed part of our history and had connections to myths, rituals and symbols; it’s uses included industrial, therapeutic, spiritual, shamanic, among others. Deitch’s (2003) study “Hemp: American History Revisited: The Plant with a Divided History” found the following: The Chinese Emperor Fu His (ca. 2900 BC), whom the Chinese credit with bringing civilization to China, seems to have made reference to Ma, the Chinese word for Cannabis, noting that Cannabis was very popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang. The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (1976) publication “Marijuana Research Findings” also comments on cannabis’ history: The use of cannabis for purposes of healing predates recorded history. The earliest written reference is found in the 15th century BC Chinese Pharmacopeia, the Rh-Ya. Cannabis is even mentioned in different parts of the Bible; Bennett’s (Feb. 10, 2003) article “Was Jesus a Stoner?” in High Times Magazine gives one example: Holy anointing oil, as described in the original Hebrew version of the recipe in Exodus (30:22-23), contained over six pounds of kaneh-bosem, a Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE substance identified by respected etymologists, linguists, anthropologists, botanists and other researchers as cannabis, extracted into about six quarts of olive oil, along with a variety of other fragrant herbs. The ancient anointed ones were literally drenched in this potent mixture. The events of the Book of Exodus occurred around 1450 B.C. estimates Richards (1990) in the book “Revell Bible Dictionary”. Though the use of cannabis dates back over 5,000 years, prohibition is only very recent, dating back only 100 years; states began banning cannabis around the same time as alcohol (1910s), according to Gieringer (1999), with the difference cannabis’ status never changed.

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Education
In 1933 “marijuana became the target of government control. Sensationalistic stories linked violent acts to cannabis consumption” (Earleywine, 2005). This was followed by Reefer Madness, a 1936 propaganda exploitation film. According to Murphy & Studney (1998): Reefer Madness is a morality tale of how Reefer Addiction ruins the life of its young protagonist and gets a lot of other people killed, sexually compromised and committed to lunatic asylums. It was intended to scare the living bejeezus out of every parent who viewed it. Since the 1930s cannabis has been viewed as a dangerous drug, by parents, government and the education system. The war on cannabis continued, in 1971 Nixon declared the “War on Drugs”, in the late 1980s Nancy Reagan created the slogan and advertising campaign “Just Say No”. D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a law enforcement-operated education program, was founded in 1983. The evidence against its effectiveness is overwhelming:

Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A

June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE In 1998, a from the University of Maryland resulted in a report to the NIJ, which among other statements, concluded that "D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use." (Sherman, Gottfredson, et al., 1998) In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States, David Satcher M.D. Ph.D., placed the D.A.R.E. program in the category of "Ineffective Primary Prevention Programs". (Satcher, 2001). The U.S. General Accountability Office concluded in 2003 that the program was sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduated from D.A.R.E. later having higher than average rates of drug use (a boomerang effect). A ten year study was completed by the American Psychological Association in 2006 involving one thousand D.A.R.E. graduates in an attempt to measure the effects of the program. After the ten year period no measurable effects were noted. In March 2007, the D.A.R.E. program was placed on a list of treatments that have the potential to cause harm in clients in the APS journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science (Lilienfeld, 2007). Despite the evidence D.A.R.E.’s program has widely been the norm for drug education, it has been implemented in 75% of the nation's school districts, and 43 countries (from official D.A.R.E. website). The D.A.R.E. program promotes zero-tolerance and reflects the "zero-tolerance orthodoxy of current U.S. drug control policy”. Harm reduction based laws and education would be much more beneficial but are criticized and dismissed by many groups who still hang on to the outdated and failed ideas. Brown’s (1995) report to the California Department of Education stated: California's drug education programs, D.A.R.E. being the largest of them, simply don't work. More than 40 percent of the students told researchers they were 'not at all' influenced by drug educators or programs. Nearly 70 percent reported neutral to negative feelings about those delivering the antidrug [sic] message. While only 10 percent of elementary students responded to drug education negatively or indifferently, this figure grew to

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Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A

June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE 33 percent of middle school students and topped 90 percent at the high school level. What image are we giving our children?

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The Teenager’s Point of View
A child’s first information on drugs usually comes from their parents and the education system. Both have a tendency to implement zero-tolerance and “Just Say No” education, labeling all drugs as dangerous and addictive. Propaganda was worse in history (ex. Reefer Madness) and less scientific information was available, but some fictitious arguments still float around from that era and are used by educators and anti-drug activists nowadays. These include but are not limited to: “it’s addictive”, “it kills your brain cells”, “it makes you stupid”, “it gets you hooked on other drugs”, “you lose your motivation” and “leads to violence and aggression”. All of these arguments have since been disproven by numerous studies, only a couple of them might hold truth but only for cases of chronic use. Teenagers are exposed to much more information than what is taught by their parents or school, especially in current times with the explosion of available information and scientific research, both made more accesable by the Internet, but also through public opinion (which among youth is dismissive of the fictitious arguments listed above). Some of their exposal is to scientific data and facts, but influence is also a factor. Influence usually comes from movies (ex. stoner movies), music lyrics (ex. Marley, Snoop Dogg, Sublime and lots more) and opinion by famous people (celebrities, artist, achievers) some of them even idols to the individual. With a quick search, any teenager can read or watch videos about “Marijuana Myths/Facts”, usually lists dedicated to debunking previous beliefs, arguments and Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE incorrect statements. This information has shaped the youth’s public opinion on cannabis, most teens believe (some even openly recite) that cannabis is not addictive, does not cause brain damage, is not a gateway drug, has medicinal properties, has never killed anyone (no overdose) and is generally “not that bad”, or even less harmful than alcohol (of the teenagers questioned, most agreed with most of these statements). The current drug policies implemented in laws and education have created a backlash of available information and created a polarization of opinion (teenagers view Reefer Madness nowadays and laugh at it). This polarization can be easily seen online, where you find anti-cannabis groups, usually dispelling false information, and pro-cannabis groups who dedicate to refuting the anti-cannabis arguments. This creates a big problem, which is the loss of a middle point. The laws and education on cannabis have created overwhelming amounts of pro-cannabis messages/info/opinions online, in the process, information and studies dealing with actual problems of cannabis use have lost their influence; they are mistaken for propaganda or simply disregarded/ignored by teenagers. The war on drugs has created exactly that, a war, and a polarization of ideas, which in turn is fueling problematic use of cannabis. It is interesting to note two of the participants I interviewed claimed they believed cannabis to be completely harmless and even to be beneficial for them when they started consuming it daily 5-6 years ago. It is also interesting to note they do not share these opinions anymore, one of them even stated he felt cheated by the system, blaming his problems with cannabis on it. The polarization of young adults’ ideas on cannabis, along with the influence in art (stoner movies, music), have created a problematical ritual of consumption: the ritual of

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Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A

June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE daily use. Snoop Dogg exclaims it directly in his song The Next Episode “so blaze the weed out there, blaze it up, smoke weed everyday”.

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Cannabis Abuse: The Ritual of Daily Use
Cannabis use can become a daily ritual, with psychological functions (relaxation, mind alteration, antidepressant, etc) and social functions (relationship, shared interest, ritual setting), and with resemblances to rituals in other cultures (altered state, community) (Stein, 2011), but differs in one thing most rituals in history; usually rituals are passed on by ancestors, they are teachings, ritual is education. The ritual of daily cannabis use in our culture does not come from our education, but from the lack of it; the ritual is self-created and influenced by the polarization of ideas. All of the participants I interviewed agreed that one of the reason they started using cannabis daily (or continue to smoke daily) is because it is not physically addictive. One of the participants warns, “don’t underestimate psychological addiction, it can turn out to be very strong, habits are hard to change, especially if you start at a young age, and even more so if your friends still do it”. Daily use of cannabis is not uncommon, especially in the age group 18-25. According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s (Nov. 26, 2004) report: Among young adults aged 18 to 25, approximately 4.3 percent reported daily marijuana use compared with about 1.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 and 0.8 percent of adults aged 26 or older. Males were almost 3 times more likely to report daily marijuana use compared with females (2.0 vs. 0.7 percent).

In 2003, more than 25 million persons (10.6 percent) aged 12 or older reported past year use of marijuana. An estimated 3.1 million persons (1.3 percent of the population and 12.2 percent of past year marijuana users) were daily marijuana users (i.e., they used marijuana on 300 or more days in the past 12 months).
Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s (2010) report: In 2010, an estimated 15.7 percent of past year marijuana users aged 12 or older used marijuana on 300 or more days within the past 12 months. This translates into 4.6 million persons using marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis over a 12-month period. In 2010, an estimated 39.9 percent (6.9 million) of current marijuana users aged 12 or older used marijuana on 20 or more days in the past month. This represents an increase from the 2009 estimates of 36.7 percent or 6.1 million users. Sullum (May 2, 2012) found: Monitoring the Future Study put "heavy" use at 7 percent of all high school students last year, who are more likely to smoke pot than younger students are. I focus on daily cannabis use for 3 reasons: 1. It is common in 18-25 year olds (evidence above) 2. Daily and sustained use is the most problematic. Swift, Copeland & Lenton (2000, p103) report: The most probable adverse health effects of acute use are generally selflimiting and do not persist beyond intoxication. On the other hand the most probable effects of regular (daily or near daily), sustained use (over several years) are: dependence, cognitive impairment, emotional development issues and adverse respiratory effects. 3. It is especially dangerous in adolescence. Swift, Copeland & Lenton (2000, p107) report: A major focus of concern is cannabis use in adolescence, a time of rapid development and transi- tions in life roles. While most adolescent use remains experimental, early onset and adolescent cannabis use have been related to a number of negative outcomes such as poor mental health, drug use and abuse, delinquent behaviour and criminality and poor educational achievement.

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Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A

June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE

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Issues: When the Ritual becomes a Habit
My participants agreed daily use can become a habit, and therefore an addiction, they agree not to underestimate the psychological addiction. Their opinion is that is it is hard to change a habit you’ve been used to for years (it’s not easy to stop daily use, it’s not so hard because there’s no physical addiction, but it’s still not an easy task). On top of that, even if you stop daily use, your functioning habits are still in place, you won’t change completely as soon as you quit the habit, it takes lots of time, especially when you’ve been doing it for so long and it’s the only way you know. In the initial phase, negative effects are not noticed. It is hard to find evidence of cannabis abuse problems online, it is buried beneath the pro and anti arguments, and is surprisingly hard to find. Opinion on cannabis is highly polarized, thousands of videos and websites dedicate to either bashing or praising cannabis; opinions in the middle are nearly non-existent, or impossible to find or trust in this war of ideas. There is a clear absence of necessary harm reduction, opinions stating facts (cannabis use is relatively safe) but calling for precaution (warning on daily use and on development). Even people looking for an honest and accurate answer are affected by this opinion war, these examples are extraordinary: Amanda asks online: “i smoke weed.......alot. im actually high right now and curious. will anything bad ever happen to me?” The only answer she gets, with 22 “thumbs up”: “Marijuana doesn’t kill brain cells (…), marijuana doesn’t cause cancer (…), it is impossible to overdose on marijuana (…), watch this documentary on how somebody used it to cure cancer” (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081222145518AA5otM o) Question: “It is ok that I smoke weed everyday?” Answer1: No, you will go bald. Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

CANNABIS ABUSE - THE RITUAL OF DAILY USE Answer2: Weed is not bad! Answer3: It will damage your lungs. (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080825145848AAMqp wM) These was not one good answer. I encountered this question multiple times online, most of the times the answers were pro or anti cannabis, unrelated to the original question, or missed the point (states physical harm caused by smoking of cannabis, does not focus on psychological harm which is unique to cannabis, not the act of smoking it). It is important to educate with facts, and warn on real dangers. This has been impossible do to prohibition and drug policy on education. Zero-tolerance fails, harm reduction is needed. Issues with cannabis can be found, there are support forums where many people talk about the problems their daily use has caused them: (http://www.uncommonforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=679319 http://www.forummatters.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/16-Cannabis-Weed-PotMarijuana-Addiction) When cannabis impedes in your functioning, it is a problem. When used for medicinal purposes cannabis helps patience function better. That is a fundamental difference.

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Conclusion
Current drug policies are counter-productive and are fueling problematic use. Cannabis use is more common than ever before, especially among teens. Daily use in adolescence may cause developmental problems, more research and emphasis is needed on this issue. Proper information and education is our best tool against drug abuse. Drug education should be designed, planned and possible even taught by people with personal experience and knowledge in the area. Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari

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References
Bennett, Chris, "Was Jesus a Stoner?," High Times Magazine, Feb. 10, 2003 D.A.R.E Official Website, www.dare.com Deitch, Robert, Hemp: American History Revisited: The Plant with a Divided History, 2003 Earleywine, Mitchell, Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, 2005 Gieringer, Dale H., "The Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in

California," Contemporary Drug Problems, 1999 Hamilton, Denise. The Truth About D.A.R.E.; The big-bucks antidrug program for kids doesn't work - Los Angeles New Times, March 20, 1997 Lilienfeld, S. O., Psychological treatments that cause harm. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 53-70, 2007 Murphy, Kevin, Studney, Dan, "Reefer Madness History", 1998 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Marijuana Research Findings: 1976, 1977 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1988-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Nov. 26, 2004 Richard, Lawrence, O., Revell Bible Dictionary, 1990 Satcher, David, - Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2001, Chapter 5 Sherman, Lawrence W.; Gottfredson, Denise; MacKenzie, Doris; Eck, John; Reuter, Peter; Bushway, Shawn - Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising. Report for the National Institute of Justice. Sullum, Reason Magazine, May 2, 2012 Swift, Wendy; Copeland, Jan; Lenton, Simon; Cannabis and harm reduction, 2010, p100110 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080825145848AAMqpwM http://www.uncommonforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=679319 http://www.forummatters.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/16-Cannabis-Weed-PotMarijuana-Addiction

Paul D. Spradling [4060694] FIU ANT 3241 [Myth, Ritual, Mysticism] Summer A

June 14, 2012 Professor Ida Tafari