My opinion on whether cannabis should be legalised has changed – my the premises underpinning my opinion have not.
Cannabis can be a dangerous drug. In my view overuse and misuse can result in an inability for the mind to regulate dopamine and serotonin without an intervention such as an atypical anti-psychotic.
My understanding of the neuro-chemistry of cannabis
People who use cannabis often have some from of anxiety disorder, or otherwise a need to get away from the world. People with anxiety usually have high serotonin levels, especially when recalling the situation that caused that anxiety. These people get benefit by cannabis through it suppressing the serotonin and increasing dopamine.
I would say that cannabis is, in effect, an ‘atypical antidepressant’ – Instead of stopping the re-uptake of serotonin it inhibits it completely. By increasing dopamine at the same time it then creates a near-mania like experience, where the users are highly focussed on a state of relaxation.
A cure all?
On this basis, the reason cannabis has so many claimed benefits for so many medical conditions is because of its properties at being able to reduce serotonin and increase dopamine. People suffering pain become less focussed on the pain and more relaxed. The same with people with cancer or any other debilitating condition. Cannabis in this case is little different to any other narcotic, such as Beecham’s Cold & Flu – It treats the discomforting symptoms of the condition, but it does not cure the condition itself.
The dangers of cannabis
As with any drug, whether recreational drugs like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine – or prescribed medicinal drugs – in the wrong dose cannabis can be harmful or lethal. In my view, as a dopamine agonist and serotonin antagonist, then misuse can result in the brain being unable to regulate dopamine and serotonin effectively.
When both dopamine and serotonin are elevated this can result in depression and suicidal ideation at best, and at worse psychosis and schizophrenia. People who misuse cannabis as an ‘atypical antidepressant’ are likely to then need an atypical anti-psychotic and their condition may then be worse than the reason they started taking cannabis in the first place.
Why legalise cannabis?
Cannabis needs to be legalised on the same basis as nicotine and alcohol – maybe also as much as paracetamol. In many cases cannabis is as ‘safe’ as these drugs, but in other cases worse. In many cases misuse of caffeine, such as by drinking gallons of Red Bull, can be more harmful than cannabis misuse – that is not regulated at all. caffeine misuse can cost the economy more in lost hours of work and low productivity than safe use of cannabis can.
So it is my view that despite all the dangers I state above, cannabis should be legalised and regulated. People who want it decriminalised are insane – decriminalisation means that organised criminals have a ready cashflow for organised paedophilia, forced prostitution and human trafficking. Also decriminalising home-grown cannabis could also result in the wrong dose being taken without the support systems in place like are available for people making home-brew with alcohol or roll-ups with tobacco.
Cannabis is much more effective at treating the underlying anxiety that gives people addictions, such as dependence on alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco is far more worse a drug than cannabis in terms of long-term mortality. And alcohol can be much worse in terms of long-term damage to the brain and its functions. But there is no point in the cannabis lobby not accepting the dangers of cannabis; not only is that irresponsible, but it is doing nothing to help their case for legalisation, which in my view is essential because of how dangerous cannabis can be.