I admit, like so many others in this country, I have mixed emotions about cannabis. The need for medical cannabis seems completely valid to me. We utilize all sorts of potentially intoxicating drugs to treat certain conditions. Cannabis should not be the exception to the rule. I can also see the recreational side of the equation, especially when cannabis is compared to alcohol. But what if it becomes as commonplace as alcohol?
A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) published by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) indicates that more than 85% of American adults over the age of 18 have consumed alcohol at least once. Nearly 70% said they had consumed alcohol in the past year and just under 55% said they consumed within the last month.
The data implies that a majority of American adults regularly consume alcohol. That is not surprising. Most full-service restaurants serve alcohol. Every mid-sized and large city is dotted with bars, local taverns, and nightclubs from which alcohol freely flows. Turn on the TV for any major sporting event and you are guaranteed to see alcohol ads. Will we ever see the same thing with cannabis?
1. The Battle Rages On
The battle over legalized cannabis has been raging for decades. Proponents on both sides of the issue cite their reasons for believing what they believe. In thirty-eight states, medical cannabis proponents have ultimately won the day. Recreational proponents have also scored victories in eighteen states. But legalization does not necessarily equate to broad-based approval.
Many people do not believe the government should prohibit alcohol consumption. At the same time, they don’t consume themselves. They also believe that Americans should consume less alcohol. Here is the point: legalization doesn’t necessarily equate to moral or ethical agreement. The same is true for cannabis. And so, the battle continues to rage in the hearts and minds of many Americans.
The battle rages in statehouses as well. According to Brigham City, UT dispensary Beehive Farmacy, Utah’s medical-only cannabis program is unlikely to expand to recreational use in the near future. Meanwhile, neighboring states like Colorado and Arizona allow both types of use. Then there are holdout states like Kentucky and Indiana; states where cannabis is still illegal under all circumstances.
2. Cannabis in the Culture
Personally, I don’t use cannabis for any reason. I also limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day, if that much. I get the fact that other people choose to consume and drink. That is their business. What troubles me is when their consumption or drinking goes beyond the confines of their own homes and into public life.
It troubles me to visit a local festival where people, fueled by alcohol, lose their inhibitions to the point of making the experience uncomfortable for other visitors. I have witnessed alcohol users vomit on the sidewalk and urinate in alleys. I have seen intoxicated drinkers behave boorishly. I have even witnessed them behaving offensively and violently.
Such incidents are gradually becoming the rule rather than the exception. Where alcohol has become such an important part of daily life, it is complicating things for people who choose to limit their drinking. And for me, the question is why.
I don’t understand why so many people I know have to consume alcohol throughout the day. I don’t know why they have to have it to enjoy themselves. Subsequently, I worry about society’s sudden openness to cannabis leading to the same type of situation. Will we ever reach a point at which a certain segment of society cannot do without their cannabis for even a day?