Skunk – Hip to be Square?

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Home Grown Cannabis plants.

Everyone has their vices – my own is food – but the news that skunk can cause serious mental health issues is not a surprise. This hybrid version of cannabis has been revealed to cause psychosis, paranoia and anxiety – things that can come from using cannabis as well but are more likely with the strong THC levels in skunk.

There is this theory that smoking dope is cool; the often used image of the leaf or a giant blunt will be found on posters in halls of residence up and down the country. But we all know that smoking is not cool unless you are James Dean – the smell alone puts people off. The medical evidence against smoking is overwhelming, but you get the refrain that those smoking joints are more healthy. Bullshit.

I watched someone spiral out of control because they couldn’t cope with the effects of smoking around a dozen spliffs a day. He mixed cannabis with coke and booze later on and eventually his body gave up. It was a sad thing to see someone knowingly make themselves ill, and then to continue against the advice of professionals and friends with a self-destruct button fully pressed. While I know not everyone treats the drug in this way there are several  who do and their behaviour impacts on all those around them.

Many reading this will be thinking that I’m a bore, a square, a dick, but here’s my issue: why smoke skunk when you know it can seriously harm you? “Oh I just have a spliff or two at the weekend” – that could cause mental health issues due to the strength of skunk. I’m all for trying everything once – and yes I’ve tried different types of cannabis over the years – but once you are told the possible outcomes why would you continue? Young disillusioned kids that I taught were doing drugs from S2/3 onwards and it scares me that they are already setting themselves up for a fall later in life.

This isn’t me sitting in an ivory tower as a completely sober – by choice – snob looking down on those who drink, smoke and take drugs, it’s more that I’m worried for people and society. Living with a mental illness is not fun; trust me on that one. The problems it causes in life and the medical necessities are not something I wish others to go through. To doubt your own mind, be “tricked” or confused by it is a scary place to be. The paranoia, anxiety and even schizophrenia it can bring is not something I would wish on anyone.

Smoking cannabis will likely cause mental health issues. So let’s legalize it. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if it were controlled and tested to make it “safer” when regulated and then spoken about in the same way we openly talk about smoking and drinking then perhaps the knowledge and information people are given will be standardized.  Take away the “cool” image and make it the norm and you won’t change the amount who try or take it, but you might just help people who suffer side effects. Also we could extract the medicinal element that help those with MS and other illnesses if it were widely available to use in labs rather than on licence.

For me there are only negatives with having the drug banned and illegal – make it legal, available, taxed, regulated, safer and understood then perhaps this would help us cut back it’s negative effects as we have done with smoking.

JD

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