Humanism and Cannabis Legalization


The current emergence of a rational appraisal of Cannabis is long overdue. Several aspects of the relationship between physical and mental health and religion, have been raised recently; the relative merits of conventional psychiatric treatment, versus counselling, ‘alternative therapies’, ‘spiritual’ healing and prayer; and whether the well are well, because of, or despite religious belief and activity. 


Nowhere is this better illustrated than in current attitudes to drugs, both recreational, and the almost irrational opposition to any form of medication to mood changing drugs used to treat mental illness. One key factor is in the findings reported in the Scientific American journal, that “a person’s mood can alter the body’s psychology” in ways that affect its physical performance. It is this concept of how mood (e.g. anxiety, stress) affects brain chemistry and conversely that brain chemistry affects mood that the general public find difficult to understand. 


The treatment of Depression is a good example. While innate factors such as personality type, & natural body/brain chemistry; environmental factors e.g. life crises, shock, stress etc.; physical disorders e.g. endocrine malfunction, illness, postnatal depression, PMT ; and drug reactions or drug abuse are all separate ’causes’, they all affect the chemical balance of the body, and especially brain chemistry. 


Not only are there many ’causes’ but there are many situations in which more than one may coexist or coincide. The combinations are endless and will affect the pattern, onset, severity or persistence of the condition, which may be transient or lifelong. 


It follows that there will be a range of treatments and therapies which may be appropriate depending upon the cause, but the fact that there are chemicals which when given to a person with a mood disorder, alter their mood, shows that the underlying condition is one of disordered brain chemistry. Given that clinical depression affects the ability of the person to change their own mood it stands to reason that medication must be on the agenda as a way to break the vicious circle they find themselves in, and possibly even as a long-term therapy. 


The fact that some drugs were over-prescribed or were used inappropriately or without adequate monitoring in the early days undoubtedly contributed to this backlash, but this is no excuse for not using proven substances in as sensible a way as is possible. It is foolish and cruel to make people feel guilty and weak if they have to ‘resort’ to medication. 


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