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Originally Posted by Ray Charles
Well, as a matter of priciple, I have a problem with altered states of consciousness. I don't think that pot is gonna make you go crazy but it does make you percieve things differently and respond to them differently. I don't like that.
Percieving things differently doesn't make you crazy or necessarily dangerous. It doesn't usually make you disconnected from reality like you don't know what you are doing. Acid or extreme alcohol intoxication are exceptions among possible others. Individuals already respond differently to different situations. What about people percieving the world around them in altered state don't you like? People have been altering their consciousness in any way they can since the dawn of time. Drugs are not the only way of doing this. The chemicals produced right in your own head are some of the most potent mind altering drugs known to man. You are a walking drug factory, the most advanced clandestine drug lab in the world is sitting behind your eyeballs. Should we regulate our emotional states with the criminal justice sytem instead of waiting for the results when people don't?

This was what I was talking about earlier when you seemed to think I was speaking too highly of altering consciousness. Altering consciousness with most drugs merely pushes pre-existing buttons in your brain that you already had. Ecstasy, for example, gets you high on your own neurotransmitter serotonin by stimulating the body to release more than it normally would. The active ingredients in marijuana stimulate your cannabinoid receptors. Your cannabinoid receptors exist because you have an entire system in your body that is stimulated and regulated by your own natural endocannabinoids. Oipiods from poppy extract to heroin to morphine and newer stuff like oxycontin all work because we have opioid receptors for our endogenous opioid neuropeptides like enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins. Cocaine works by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, making more of them available than would normally be there. Drugs that act like this merely tweak the systems already in place in your body. Therein lies the problem. Regulating what chemicals you can and cannot put into your own bloodstream is regulating what processes can and cannot go on within your own mind and I see that as an unnneccessary and unwanted intrusion into my personal liberty as each persons mind is their own domain. The government should not be the final authority in what goes on in your own head.

Alcohol, the most socially-accepted addictive drug which can have life-threatening health hazards operates on the adenosine receptors. It also interferes with the normal functioning of the neurotransmitter/amino acid glutamate, potentiates the inhibitory function of the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), directly stimulates release of the neurotransmitter serotonin and of endorphins and also leads to increases in the release of dopamine.

Alcohol abuse can also cause a slew of prolems equal to or far worse than anything marijuana is proven to cause. For all the hype about how marijuana makes you stupid and kills your brain alcohol actually does just that and to a far greater degree. Alcoholism will actually shrink your brain. Binge drinking can produce necrotic neurodegeneration in the areas of the brain most closely associated with the hippocampus. Non-alcoholic but heavy social drinking can result in permanent cognitive and neurological impairment. The fatty acid ethyl esters produced in the brain from ethanol are particularly damaging to the hippocampus. Even low to moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with brain atrophy in a study of middle-aged men. By potentiation of GABA-mediated inhibition and blockage of glutamate release in the hippocampus, ethanol can significantly reduce spatial learning and memory by 30 minutes following administration, and the effect does not fully reverse for 24 hours in rats.

Originally Posted by Ray Charles
Practically, people don't do that. We call people who drink just to get drunk alcoholics. It's not a good thing. We call people who smoke just to get high potheads. Again, not a good thing.
You aren't going to tell me that people only drink alcohol for the flavor are you? That's such a joke. Even if people don't drink to get totally wasted they are doing it to alter their consciousness, even if it is just slightly. one drink = altered consciousness for most people. If you only wanted flavor you would order something that tasted good and didn't have alcohol in it. Most people don't even like the taste of alcohol itself which is why it often has to be distguised or dilluted to make a palletable drink.

Fine cannabis can be enjoyed by a connoisseur just like any fine wine or cigar. Both also mind altering drugs BTW. The point of consuming cannabis is to alter ones state of consciousness but I would argue that that is exactly the same point in consuming wine and tobacco as well. The flavor excuse is just that. If flavor were really more important that alcohol content, non-alcoholic drinks would be far more popular than they are. There was a time when drinking alcohol was a matter of practicality but that time has past as there is no shortage of clean drinking water.

Also, people who drink to get drunk are not necessarily alcoholics. They are binge drinkers. You don't need to be addicted to alcohol to be a binge drinker. Binge drinkers often only drink on the weekends. You don't even have to get blind drunk to be a binge drinker. IIRC that is officially defined as having the equivalent of four drinks in two hours, which gets most people legally drunk with a decent "buzz" going. It's not that this is healthy behaviour that should be encouraged but as long as only the health of the consumer is being potentially harmed by their lack of moderation no one really cares. It is not considered a threat to society.

Binge drinking is fairly common in america and the "buzz" experienced should be about equivalent to a marijuana high, except that THC does not diminish inhibitions as much as alcohol nor increase risk taking as much as alcohol nor diminish capacity for judgement as much as alcohol. It is always interesting to me that a drug that is toxic to every cell in your body, causes so much death, destruction, and violence is considered the proper way to alter ones consciousnes while a drug which is non-toxic and causes passivity and relaxation is considered verboten, and for good reason. By the same criteria that marijuana is deemed too dangerous for society, alcohol should be considered akin to cocaine. It is more toxic, more addictive, more likely to cause problems by consumption and yet the conventional wisdom is that alcohol is OK and marijuana is an unnacceptable risk to society.

I don't want that in my society and the best way to get rid of it as far as I know is prohibition
Not neccesarily. When marijuana was made illegal no one knew what it was because almost no one in the country at the time smoked it recreationally. It was available in many medecines at the time and had never caused a problem as tincture of cannabis but not many people used it recreationally. Compare that with now. Everyone knows what marijuana is, even if they've never seen it or smoked it. It is immortalized in movies and popular culture. 1/3 to 1/2 the country has smoked it depending on which source you believe. 50% of high schoolers try it before graduation according to statistics collected since 1965. Prohibition did not make weed go away and in fact it seems like it has had the opposite effect. Especially if you compare and contrast rates of use in countries with harsh penalties for use with more lenient areas. The more lenient areas generally have lower rates of use and fewer problems associated with use. In the states there is almost no difference in rates of use between states where it is decriminalized and states where it is still punished heavily.

Also, this is our society, not yours. Where does telling others how to live their consensual private adult lives even come into the picture in the first place? I can understand limiting actions that cause problems like public intoxication and operating a vehicle while intoxicated but I don't understand the notion that we need to stop people from experiencing intoxication all together. Perhaps if you prove that you are incapable of handling intoxicated states you should be restricted from altering your consciousness but punishing people punitively for what they might but haven't done yet doesn't seem like a fair system of justice to me.

Last edited by pyramid; 01-15-2006 at 05:46 AM..
Old 01-14-2006, 05:38 PM pyramid is offline  
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