Question from a blog reader:

My son argues that smoking marijuana is less harmful than drinking alcohol. How can I convince him otherwise? The abuse of alcohol is ten to twenty times more detrimental to society than the abuse of street drugs. Alcohol is legal and street or “recreational” drugs aren’t (except for two states that have legalized marijuana), and the millennials love to point out the hypocrisy of the establishment. However, here is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) report on Marijuana:

Marijuana over activates the endocannabinoid system, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory. Marijuana also affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent. A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed substantially reduced connectivity among brain areas responsible for learning and memory. And a large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.

Chemical abuse of any kind is detrimental to the brain. View the brain scan of an alcoholic and compare it with the brain scan of a non-drinker or user. That should be enough to convince anyone to abstain, but it isn’t! I am seeing the mind of my wife deteriorating as her brain is being ravaged by dementia. It is not a pretty sight. Why do people choose to take mind-altering drugs that they know will have long-term detrimental effects on the brain? To escape reality? Peer pressure? To stop the pain? To temporarily feel good? To quiet the voices?

If we could only do all things in moderation then one glass of wine with a meal, a cold beer after mowing the lawn, and even one dose of marijuana might be okay. It would probably do less damage to your body than over eating, which is also legal! I have an idea. Why don’t we stop being people-pleasers, resolve our personal and spiritual conflicts through genuine repentance and faith in God, find self-control by being filled with the Spirit, and discover the joy of the Lord? That is the ultimate high.

Dr. Neil

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