I’ve known a couple of serious potheads in my time. They were not the amiable slackers of popular imagination. They did a lot of damage to the folks around them. One was a guy in his 20s who preferred to lie around smoking weed all day than go to work. Needless to say, he found it hard to keep a job. He couldn’t stay solvent either. Eventually he lost the house, the wife, and the kids.
The other was a 17-year-old kid whose parents finally called the cops on him when he wouldn’t stop using. By that time he’d all but dropped out of school (and introduced his little sister and her friend to weed). He was nasty and belligerent. I don’t know if he’s cleaned up yet. I hope so, because otherwise he’ll wreck his life.
It’s unfashionable to mention the downside of marijuana these days. People who do it sound like old fuddy-duddies. These days the story of marijuana is a happy one, filled with financial opportunity for anybody smart enough to cash in on the action. The cannabis market in Canada could reach more than $7-billion in 2019, just for starters . So many stores to build, marketing plans to execute, branding programs to devise! So many stocks in companies with billion-dollar market caps to buy and sell! All these money-making dreams implicitly rely on an image of marijuana that is basically harmless, if not downright wholesome.
How did pot get sanitized? I asked Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychology at Stanford University with an interest in addiction and drug policies.
“It started with all that reefer madness stuff,” he says in an interview. It was so plainly exaggerated. Later, we grew up with the unfairness and cruelty of drug laws that punished poor and minority kids who were caught with a joint. But attitudes about the legitimacy of pot really changed with the spread of medical marijuana, which promised to treat every ill from cancer to the heartbreak of psoriasis. Now that even the white-coats at Shoppers Drug Mart have a licence to sell it, it has finally achieved an aura of utter respectability.