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Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds

We’ve been having a fabulous conversation about the meaning/validity of the phrase “marijuana addiction” and how that has been and should be addressed.

Danny Chapin, the managing editor of AllTreatment.com, a directory for drug rehab centers and substance abuse information resource, originally approached me about having a dialog about marijuana addiction with all of you, as he searches for understanding himself.

  1. Danny Chapin’s original post
  2. Pete Guither’s response

If you haven’t had a chance to read those, I recommend that you do so — the comments were extraordinary — and it leads to this one.

Danny Chapin has now responded to my response. Check it out and take your shots. I’ll react later.

Thank you, first off, Pete, for hosting this discussion (and quite a discussion it has lead to). It’s fantastic to be able to participate with your community. In a responsive style, I’ll address Pete’s points chronologically.

The Numbers

Pete’s numbers are illuminating, and perhaps the best metrics to show the differences in the quality of admissions between a drug like Marijuana and a drug like Heroin.

I do, however, have issue with the notion that “it’s certainly not possible to use treatment data to support the existence of any kind of significant levels of marijuana addiction.” Rhetorically, this presents a contradiction since Pete uses this data to argue his initial point. But, less superficially, even if we do take seriously the 14.8% of referrals that are from individuals, we’re still left with 45,187 individuals seeking treatment for marijuana abuse, a number which is significant.

Pete’s metrics do point out the obvious fact that more people (relatively and absolutely) are personally admitting themselves into treatment for cocaine addiction as opposed to marijuana addiction (60,782 people if we take 34% of 178,771, compared to 45,187 at 14.8%), but this higher percentage of admittance is not a refutation of the notion that marijuana can have a destructive, negative impact on an individuals life–it simply supports the notion that cocaine addiction motivates more individuals to admit themselves into treatment.

The differences between these admissions statistics should drive policy, I would argue. Marijuana treatment is less a product of an individual’s will and more a product of an inefficient court system’s regulatory power. From a purely utilitarian perspective, marijuana addiction is the lesser of two evils, yet, forty five thousand people annually admitted to treatment seems a large enough number to justify talking about marijuana addiction as a real social issue. Something which, if decriminalized or legalized, we must educate our young people about.

People can and do get addicted to marijuana, and it can and does have a negative impact on the livelihood of many Americans. The question then is about marijuana: is marijuana the cause or simply a conduit for an addictive personality to unfold?

What is Addiction

Pete is spot on in arguing that addiction is more a function of an individual than the inherent properties of a substance–marijuana itself isn’t addictive, it’s the individual’s behavior that expresses their compulsive relationship with the world and its objects. If addiction were defined by the inherent properties of an object, then we’re all addicted to food–yet we know, by the absurdity of this example, that actual addiction is understood as that uncontrollable, compulsive drive to consume more and more. The cause of one’s addiction to marijuana is not inherent to marijuana but to the user, otherwise we would see far more serious legal and social repercussions for the widespread and liberal use of marijuana–we could posit that the relatively mild physical relationship marijuana has with its users is one of the reasons it is so popular despite its illegality.

When marijuana becomes a problem, anyone has the right to seek treatment. We’ve seen from the numbers that many Americans can’t handle smoking pot responsibly and treatment is a smart, responsible choice. The numbers Pete has pointed to show us that most Americans in treatment have unwillingly been forced into treatment–a fact which can produce ill-will during a therapy session where other addicts have serious intentions of stopping their cycle of abuse. That unwilling participant can only hurt the treatment process for those serious patients. This is something we need to change–for the sake of fiscal responsibility, to minimize inefficiency, and as a duty to Americans deterred by the half-assed intentions of unwilling participants.

Consensus

Marijuana addiction isn’t a joke, it isn’t impossible, and is large enough of a phenomenon to pay attention to. Legality aside, most marijuana users in the United States do find and use marijuana responsibility (or at least, not in a compulsive, criminal manner). And for those that don’t, treatment is 100% their best option. And above all, education is the mother of prevention, so if marijuana is used as much at it is, let’s admit there’s an elephant in the room, and at the very least empower our citizens to say yes or no in a safe, responsible manner.

— Danny Chapin

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65 comments to Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds

  • daksya

    I largely agree with Danny’s reply, but will object that someone coerced into rehab by family also counts as self-referred. So that 45,187 figure still is ambiguous.

  • Duncan

    Is anyone saying that people that desire ‘treatment’ should be denied the freedom to experience that?

    45,000 out of 300 million means that less than 0.015% of the US population thinks of themselves as somehow in need of this service. It’s also less than 0.3% of those who self report recently using cannabis to the government. In contrast 1.5% of the population will die from tobacco related illnesses this year. That’s die as in dead, deceased, RIP, bought the farm…but we hear nothing about forcing tobacco users into ‘treatment’. Is there even a 12 step program for tobacco users? Nicotine Anonymous or something like that?

  • Steve the Pharmacst

    Jesus people are stupid. Addiction applies to opiates. Any other compulsive behavior towards a drug is a habituation. Does not smoking weed throw one into withdrawal symptoms? HELL NO!
    Not smoking weed is like not taking you Prozac. One slips back to the miserable emotional state one was in before they used the drug. THERE ARE NO WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS! JUST A RETURN TO DEPRESSION.
    The Drug War propaganda fools will never stop spouting their BS lies. Fuck this anti-weed freak, probably a godamn pig anyway…

  • Steve, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with having a discussion. It’s the drug warriors who are afraid of hearing something from the other side, not us. We refute, we have no need to resort to calling invited guests names.

  • I have conducted my own impromptu study over the last couple of years. Folks that I have known for 40+ years. Some used. Some still use. Some never have used (and none of those have told me that weed is addictive, come to think of it).

    I know hundreds of people personally that have/still use and I cannot find a single individual (even those who were forced into treatment to beat some bogus drug possession rap) who would agree that marijuana is addictive.

    People I know that have not used in 30+ years (but did before) laugh when I ask the question because they know it was never addicting to them. Is there a possibility that .015% of the people are addicted? I suppose. But statistically, this could be related to something else.

    Methinks that Danny is grasping, even nicely, for straws that simply do not exist.

  • Hey all, will happily reply to many if not most of these comments on this thread. The other threads were so long that I had to just write the article first.

    Looking forward to all your replies!

  • ezrydn

    While we banty around numbers of those WITH problems, whatever the origin of that problem might be, we also have to look at the numbers of users that have never had problem one. Many of these non-problematic persons have sat before Danny. He verified that his “treatment” doesn’t work on them.

    So, as I see it, treatment is akin to addiction. It only works if you’re inclined for it to work. Am I on point, Danny? How much good would treatment do if all your patients were not “self-enrolled?”

    I’m addicted to nicotine, life and, in the past, RC Cola. I’ve never had any sort of withdrawl from either nicotine nor cannabis, which allows this PTSD vet to enjoy “life.” RC Cola was a different story. LOL

    It is my hope that Danny has gained some new insight to his profession through our discussion. If so, it’s a plus. Just remember that people get addicted to all sorts of substances, many which are NOT on some Congressional Record.

  • strayan

    Many cannabis users are fooled into thinking they need ‘treatment’. 75% of tobacco smokers who’ve quit for good have done so without any assistance, treatment or pharmacotherapy – they have done so ‘unaided’ (and this is for a drug of dependency).

    Chapin is guilty of pathologising a process that has for hundreds of years seen millions of people quit without help.

    We should be sending the message that people who quit do so on their own, not that are weak and will probably need to visit a ‘treatment centre’ for help.

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000216

  • denmark

    A repeat on my part, forgive me:
    The question could be easily answered if there was no prohibition.

  • claygooding

    We are asking for marijuana to be legalized to stop the wasting of our tax dollars on a war with no end,which grows every year.
    We want the right too decide for ourselves whether we do marijuana,not politicians,religious leaders or people that are making their living only as long as marijuana remains illegal.
    I don’t recall anyone ever asking for marijuana to be made mandatory,although I believe some one ought too hold every drug czar we have ever had down and bong them to death.
    And the numbers you are using are so minuscule,compared to the number of users,that you are actually admitting that there is no need for our country to try and build rehab centers all over our nation,at taxpayers expense
    and only so the drug cops can keep busting people over marijuana.

  • […] Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds - Drug WarRant […]

  • Let’s see… Danny Chapin thinks the “45,187 individuals seeking treatment for marijuana abuse” is “significant. OK, it’s his field… but WE must point out to Danny that around 99 people an hour are arrested every day, every week of every month of the year here in the U.S. That’s almost a million people Danny. For what?

    For using one of “the safest therapeutic substances known to man”… a substance with no real LD-50.

    The 45,000 people seeking treatment is far, far less troubling than a government arresting 99 people an hour for an activity which has no criminal component to it.

    Danny… we here are only calling bullshit on cannabis (and all drug) Prohibition and it wouldn’t hurt your career one iota to understand we aren’t making our facts up and Prohibition II must end. It drives the abuse you seek to minimize.

  • greg

    “it can and does have a negative impact on the livelihood of many Americans.”

    here’s where I get hung up. What is a negative impact? When I failed my drug test and lost a job 4 weeks after my last joint, that was certainly a negative impact. when a good friend was kicked out of school after losing his financial aid, that was a negative impact.

    the problem is, these are all directly tied to the drug’s legal status. Make it legal, and I can’t come up with a single negative impact substantial enough to justify treatment, aside from some rather poor memory.

  • Cannabis

    OK, I read all the way up to the end, only to find this:

    Legality aside, most marijuana users in the United States do find and use marijuana responsibility (or at least, not in a compulsive, criminal manner).

    If a sentence like this was used further up you would have lost me much sooner. What exactly is using cannabis in a “crimnal manner,” legality aside?

  • claygooding

    It’s sorta like”same difference” or “military intelligence”,it don’t exist.

  • Cannabis, I would assume that that would refer to things like stealing money to buy more pot

  • Max

    It is simply staggering to me that Chapin can consider 45,000 treatment admissions “significant” in the face of the *millions* of people who regularly use cannabis in the US, not to mention the tens of millions who have used it irregularly.

    As another commenter noted above, we are dealing with less than 1% of cannabis users seeking treatment. I wonder how much further that number would bottom out if the country at large finally abandoned the myth that marijuana is dangerous. In other words, if we were not constantly bombarding marijuana users with negative associations (cf. almost any anti-pot commercial from the ONDCP in the past 20 years — marijuana users run over kids with their cars, marijuana users shoot themselves with dad’s gun, marijuana users are lazy failures), would anyone be nervous about forming a habit?

    Mr. Chapin, here’s a question for you: if less than 1% of cannabis users seeking treatment is still a “significant” number (whatever this is supposed to mean), how much lower does that number need to get before it becomes “insignificant”? .1%? .05%? Can you even wrap your brain around these numbers? We’re now talking about a frequency of cannabis “addiction” roughly equivalent to your chance of being struck by lightning. Are you prepared to wear a special lightning rod hat to minimize your risk? Are you prepared to arrest those who think the hat might be unnecessary?

    I’m sorry. You seem like a good sport to have come here for a debate, but your incoherent definition of cannabis addiction betrays how utterly captive your are held by your preconceived notions of what this drug is or must be. No reasonable person can look at these numbers and conclude that cannabis qua cannabis is a significantly addictive substance. You completely lose this argument, whether you recognize it or not.

  • ezrydn

    @Allan:

    Don’t you mean Prohib III? 😉

  • @ez-

    heck ez… make it Prohib IV if you’re Native American. Their religious practices were Prohibited until the NARFA (one of Nixon’s few better moves).

    Well said Max!

  • strayan

    I believe we call what Max posted a ‘total ownage’.

    The reason Chapin can’t abandon his belief in the concept of cannabis addiction is because he sells cannabis treatment (he must have been a snake oil salesman in his former life).

    The reason we can’t expect him to abandon his belief in cannabis addiction is because his livelihood depends on widespread acceptance of the myth that you do indeed need treatment for it.

    In Chapin’s eyes, helping just 1 single person quit cannabis would be all the evidence he needs (in his mind) to justify the operation of treatment centres. He’s also pretty obviously unfamiliar with the ‘Rule of Rescue’ http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/centres/che/pubs/wp112.pdf

  • mikek

    Those of us who have smoked pot for decades, and have known people who have smoked for decades, understand quite plainly that it is not addictive. We hold down jobs, raise families, are normal functioning people. We are not enslaved, nor do we have a problem. We just like to get high. Nothing wrong with that.

    Folks who enter treatment because of marijuana, and feel that marijuana is their problem, well, they shouldn’t be smoking it. They should get help for their problem, but I’d say their underlying problem is not weed.

  • Ripmeupacuppa

    Danny; I agree with Allan; the problem which is screaming at us at the moment isn’t the, imagined or not, addictiveness of cannabis, but the sheer destructiveness of prohibition.

    Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation. By its very nature prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model – the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous, ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved.

    Prohibition ideology is based on lies and the ‘War on Drugs’ is a de facto ‘war on people’ (some might even successfully argue that it’s a de facto race war). Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us!

  • claygooding

    When you ask marijuana advocates or long time users questions about marijuana and it’s addictiveness,safety
    or therapeutic efficiency,have you noticed that most answer you with a sometimes not too subtle anger?
    It is an anger born of frustration,caused by a government and it’s bureaucracies that have brain washed the public since the tax act in 1937.
    And there is no way that the government can justify their actions. They can’t claim that they didn’t realize that marijuana was a medicine,since they have been using it for glaucoma treatment,for the past 40 years and have patents on some of the naturally occurring chemical compounds found in marijuana,as a medicine.
    The can’t claim that they were protecting our health when they tax and allow the sales of alcohol and smoked tobacco,two of the deadliest drugs available,which has killed more people than the stupid wars our country has
    used to protect the profits of the oil companies and other industries that manufacture war related materials,
    and alcohol and tobacco have killed more people than all
    the illegal drugs,put together,while marijuana has killed only the people that law enforcement,just doing their jobs,has killed,either on the streets or in their prisons,where the marijuana user should never have been.
    It is a frustration that runs so deep,that it influences and sometimes dictates a distrust and hatred for the government and law enforcement that will never go away,
    or be fixed.

  • claygooding

    And right now,our government is trying to switch from imprisonment too treatment,which puts drug rehab people
    on the hatred list. They are developing a patch,made from organic marijuana,to use as a treatment for drug addiction so they can sell it in the rehab centers that they have to convince big money too build.
    And that is a ploy,by the government bureaucrats,to protect their billions of dollar budgets,because they use marijuana as justification for over 70% of that budget.
    And that is why,even with 14 states having medical marijuana and our own government using it as a medicine and clinical proof that it is effective and safe,they refuse to remove it from schedule 1. So it is imperative that they convince the people that that the addiction levels for marijuana justifies the expenditure and
    continued persecution of the people that use marijuana.
    And that is where you come in,with your “discussion” on addiction.

  • DdC

    Anger? Angers good. Too much or rage is not healthy. The frustration comes every 6 0r 7 years with a new batch of “reformers” going to save us. Like it hasn’t been tested more than any plant on the planet. One more stall won’t hurt. It’s a scam. No symptoms or sudden never before seen side effects can materialize, especially before any reform action or elections. Its a scam.

    Addiction is a legal term and one of three requirements to classify a substance #1. If it has no medicinal value and can create a menace to society are the other two. Every test and reevaluation from the Indian Hemp Commission in the late 1800’s, La Guardia, Whooton to and including the 1999 IOM report states cannabis is not addictive with debilitating withdrawals. Or does it lead users into crimes to obtain the substance.

    By pure corporate profit reasoning Nixon disregarded these and his own Shaffer Commission and listed it as an addictive substance and a menace with no medicinal value.

    Legalese for Congress, with the removal of Ganja from the Pharmacopeia’s in the 40’s and most practice since 37. “Legally” it had/has no medicinal use except anecdotal from patients finding relief, but not in legal terms. The FDA has never tested RxGanja, Re-Creational Ganja or Hemp Seed and Oil. Until it goes through the manipulations and gears of the system the FDA won’t see it. Until they test it and approve of it as a drug. It ain’t legally medicinal. Reality has nothing to do with it.

    Klintoon truthfully, in legal terms, stated he did not have sexual relations with that woman. We know differently. Legally his comprehension, from an Arkansas upbringing and general knowledge of his home town stated BJ’s were abominations, along with incest, bestiality and sodomy. He probably calculated this, showing how anal retentive he is. But legally without intercourse he did not have sexual relations, he committed an abomination. But most think he lied. Same lie, different abomination, called the Ganjawar.

    Now since the internet has alerted the public with every known test and past studies including the IND sending rolled joints. Now with several CA studies its not a surprise why Barthwell was sent to Canada to work with Bayer taking over Sativex distribution. With the US taking out patents on individual cannabinoids they are even more obvious about their knowledge of RxGanja. They also know of Hemp, Hemp Oil and the threat of Omega 3.

    if the drug commercials when 80% of it is reading side effects, isn’t a sham as the same networks shun any Ganja discussion favorably or even sell ad space for campaigns. Its a scam and claiming its addiction when 60 million Americans walked away. Some one should tell them they were addicted and didn’t even know it. Then tell a junkie or alkie its all the same. Only “legality wise” it is. BS

    Its a scam for rehabs to justify it in spite of this authors honesty and admittance that plea bargain treatment doesn’t work. It still only a necessary step to maintain the “buzzword” to reduce RxGanja to a schedule#2, with the same “addiction” and classification as morphine or speed, a triplicate script. Mostly it keeps it in Pharma’s hands. It keeps Grow Op’s outlawed and probably the most gain, it keeps Hemp from American farmers. Just a word. Same with Schizophrenics finding relief is not Ganja causing Schizophrenia and Drug Czars smoking cheap schwag in their youthful discretion doesn’t mean good pot hasn’t always been available. Gateway for our ancestors to what hasn’t been invented? Lazy people toking is not A-motivation caused by Ganja.

    If a kid wants a toy and his mother says no and he has a fit on the floor it doesn’t mean he’s addicted to the toy. If a worker works in the sun all day and craves a cold beer it doesn’t mean he’s addicted. If Ganja removes the sharp edges preventing rage or suicide from instant impulses dulled, it doesn’t mean it causes the impulses. It doesn’t cure them either and rage and suicide need attention and have clear signs. Many would rather take the easy route and blame something. How convenient cannabis is so versatile it’s been demonized out of business. But it still ain’t addictive.

  • claygooding

    The only reason that the ONDCP’s plan for switching from prison to treatment has not gone forward is our economy.
    There is no money to build the rehab centers and none of the rich are willing to invest money in a policy that may evaporate if America stands up on it’s feet and tells the government to fuck off,and legalizes marijuana,one state at a time. And our government,since it can’t own the rehab centers,is deadlocked into imprisonment.
    Has anyone else noticed that Kerli is speaking less and less about “treatment”? I think that they may have realized that there is no money,to change horses now.
    Where is kaptinemo when you need him

  • claygooding

    DdC,they can’t allow marijuana to be rescheduled to #2.
    That would remove the their power to refuse the studies you are referring too,required for marijuana to be recognized
    as a medicine. The studies reported recently are the very
    tests required by the FDA,and I understand that there is an attempt being made to submit them to the FDA,for their approval of marijuana as a medicine,but that costs money and there is none.
    And of course,all the ONDCP had to do in response too those studies was claim that they have “issues” with the research. He does not qualify or explain what his issues are,and he doesn’t have too.
    The way these guys are grabbing every straw and digging up old and long refuted propaganda should tell unaware America just how indefensible the governments position is.

  • Just me

    It just burns my ass that what…45,000 people? 1% , I mean really. Compared to the millions who do use and dont have problems? We ALL get blanket treatment in that we are arrested if caught, call loser druggies,doper retards, on and on Just for that % of people. What if we started treating cig smokers this way? Alcohol drinkers? Twinkie eaters? Or any of the number of things that could cause that small of a % of people to have a problem. Those of us that are responsible can have our live turned upside down and ruined for what? Nothing! I LOVE butter milk! If I buy a quart and start drinking it , I can just keep drinking and drinking til its gone,hard to stop I love it that much, now thats addiction, thats why I dont buy it that much. Responsiblity! I want to be treated fairly for my responsiblity , not unfairly for the irresponsible actions of others. Its wrong.

    When it comes down to just cannabis, its not about addiction or any percieved harm it could do. Not for the powers that be , its about money and control. The same thing everything is about with those in power positions. They play the same cards they always play in public. Oh one person is addicted so it has to be illegal. Oh one person lost his temper and shot someone now we have to make all guns illegal. Oh k2 is like cannabis , might make you laugh and feel good, gotta make it illegal.Same with salvia.

    Its like we are in hell and anything that may make you feel good for a while must be taken away so you get maximum suffering possible.

    Ok I’m angery and rambling , sorry I get that way.
    Just cant stand the BS we Americans deal with each and everyday because a few think they are right and think the rest of us are to stupid to know the difference.

    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
    From Benito Mussolini
    “London Sunday Express,” December 8, 1935

    So whos reality is it anyway?

  • ezrydn

    If one is serious, it is obvious that some people with an “addictive personality” will latch onto something they like, be it Cannabis, Nicotine, Sugar, you name it. And, in Danny’s case, they may need some insight into how to break the cycle they’re in. However, it’s not the substance. It’s the personality. The words “substance abuse” says to me, something used illegally. Is it still substance abuse after said substance is legal? How does your terminology change?

    Danny comes to the table with one hand tied down. How so? He makes his living at this. He has “ulterior” motives, whether he believes that or not. I would say that probably 98-99% of the reformers who are active don’t receive one penny for their actions. Therefore, two different views. Realistically, this is a “Clean Hands” debate. Feds can’t meet the requirement. Neither can State nor Locals. Ergo, therapists who live off this situation enter the arena “bound.”

    While Danny may be great at his profession, he’s already hogtied when he enters this debate. Most reformers will use his paycheck in a debate, just as they did here.

    Cannabis is a non-narcotic. Gambling is a non-narcotic. Which is worse?? So, aren’t we really talking about a personality characteristic? Why a difference between using Cannabis and using Dice and Cards?

  • mikek

    Sorry for the repeat comment, but one more thing: those of us who enjoy smoking weed know one more thing about it: it’s a blessing, not a curse. We enjoy it!! We’re not in the least bit apologetic about it either. And it rankles the hell out of us that the govt., law enforcement, moralizers, puritans, etc, have been trying to tell us we are criminals, depraved, or need help, when, really, we’re just enjoying ourselves. So, we’re pretty fed up with being the bad guys, especially now that the propaganda wall is crumbling and people see what a huge and tragic mistake we’ve made as a society.

    Legalize it!

  • permanentilt

    I think the only point I would make that hasn’t been adressed is this:

    “…talking about marijuana addiction as a real social issue. Something which, if decriminalized or legalized, we must educate our young people about.”

    The thing is that we don’t do this now. Drug education courses are filled with fear tactics and propaganda about marijuana. When a kid tries marijuana for the first time they realize instantly “OH! They were just lying to me to scare me! Everything they said about marijuana were lies!” Criminalization ensures that our children will not be given the real facts of addiction. They will merely be shown propaganda which they will most likely reject.

    Also criminalization puts parents in a position where they do not argue addiction as the main reason to avoid marijuana. The lament with parents is that “It will ruin your life?” “How?” “You could get busted.” And studies frequently show that kids do not fear law enforcement when making decisions for themselves. Rather than adressing the real issues about marijuana use in children like laziness, falling grades, amotivation, dependence, etc. parents are forced to rely mostly on the fact of prohibition as the overwhelming negative impact. Children see through this.

    Along with that, prohibition causes parents to either not have any practical experience with marijuana or not tell their children about their experiences with it. If they have been “good” all their lives and obeyed the law, then when it comes time to tell their kids about marijuana, they simply have absolutely no frame of reference. All they have to rely on are things they have heard or read. However, if parents have, or do, use marijuana, prohibition ensures that they must lie to their kids to cover up their criminal behavior. They don’t want to look like criminals, they don’t want their kids to try it and become criminals.

    The issue of addiction, again, is moot because prohibition focuses the conversation on mere fact of illegality.

  • permanentilt

    …not that I’m insinuating that marijuana should be legal for children, but if it were legal with age limits we could much more easily and truthfully address the subject with our children.

  • divadab

    If you live in Washington State, please be sure to sign the I-1068 Petition to Legalize Cannabis for adults. We need 241,000 signatures to get this question on the ballot and let the people speak. True Democracy.

    Sensiblewashington.org
    On Facebook – Sensible Washington

    Plus a lot of local grass-roots organizations. Get registered, exercise your democratic right, let’s get it done in Washington and stick a finger in the fascist liars’ eyes.

  • From Max:

    Mr. Chapin, here’s a question for you: if less than 1% of cannabis users seeking treatment is still a “significant” number (whatever this is supposed to mean), how much lower does that number need to get before it becomes “insignificant”? .1%? .05%? Can you even wrap your brain around these numbers? We’re now talking about a frequency of cannabis “addiction” roughly equivalent to your chance of being struck by lightning. Are you prepared to wear a special lightning rod hat to minimize your risk? Are you prepared to arrest those who think the hat might be unnecessary?

    ======================

    Max–I don’t care about percentages. This argument, essentially, is NOT about the inherent properties of pot to get someone addicted, so I don’t care that almost everyone can use pot safely–that’s great but those people aren’t going into treatment, and as long as they’re not messing up the basic rights of our citizens, I’m fine with that.

    What I DO care about is those people that can’t control their use, and do really stupid things because of it, regardless of what drug they are using, and there are a significant number of them in the United States, some of which have a negative relationship with pot. So again, this isn’t an argument about pot being addictive, I’m said explicitly that the essence of addiction is BEHAVIORAL and not CHEMICAL.

    The simple facts are thus: people can abuse substances, one of those substances they can abuse is pot, and there are 45,000 people who have this problem, so this problem is large enough in scope to matter.

    I’ve even made a pro-legislative argument within my post, saying that the percentages do matter in the sense that they should inform our reformatory and legislative strategies. Clearly, because you’re right there are very few people, on average, having an addiction problem w/ pot, we should probably focus on other seriously dangerous drugs like alcohol. I’m tempted to write a whole new post simply arguing that these aspects of pot pale in comparison to the destruction alcohol causes.

    I believe, mostly, I’m on board with a lot of people here.

    But please, make sure you realize, I’m arguing that PEOPLE get addicted to substances, and not that SUBSTANCES addict people. When you take this point seriously, it’s not an argument against pot, it’s an argument for education to prevent PEOPLE from abusing any substance, and from the numbers, it is clear that people can abuse pot (although, in an overwhelming majority, they don’t).

    Hope this post helps!
    -d

  • Duncan – I think you seriously nailed a very skewed aspects of “mediaziation” of drugs — all we see is the pro-pot, anti-pot war in the media, because it’s almost impossible to enact major legislation to educate and hopefully prevent the (over)consumption of cigarettes or alcohol.

    I think Alcohol is the #1 drug problem in the United States right now, and the admissions stats definitely point to that.

    And if you do want to talk about physically addict drugs (which I have made a point not to do so in my articles), then I definitely suggest you read about the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol.

    Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_tremens

    Pure insanity. We have medical professionals actually advising their alcoholic patients to continue drinking until they can get on medication to prevent hallucinations.

    I totally agree with you, I think in the large picture, pot is having far less of a negative impact than alcohol or cigarettes.

  • ezrydn – Thanks, I whole-heartedly agree, I think people can get addicted to and have a negative relationship with the internet, world of warcraft (crazy stuff), porn, gambling, and drugs, and not just illegal drugs, or even common drugs.

    My point, and to reply to Steve the Pharmacst and BuelahMan is that addiction is inherent to the INDIVIDUAL not the substance (mostly–opiates and depressants are the only really physically addictive drugs being consumed).

  • aussidawg

    “But, less superficially, even if we do take seriously the 14.8% of referrals that are from individuals, we’re still left with 45,187 individuals seeking treatment for marijuana abuse, a number which is significant.”

    45,000 people *IS* a very significant number…when one considers that this many people die every year because of a lack of health insurance. I wonder how many people are treated for eating disorders every year? I would say probably more than the number treated for cannabis “addiction.”

    Anything can be addictive…gambling, sex, food, shopping, etc. Addiction is a psychological state, and dependence is the state where withdrawal of the substance will result in a withdrawal syndrome.

    Having been a consumer of cannabis on a multiple times per day daily basis while in my teens, and then stopping abruptly with no discomfort whatsoever, it is obvious that cannabis does not produces a physical dependence, nor IMHO is cannabis any more “addictive” than any other substance or activity which can induce a pleasurable effect on the user. The treatment business is just that…a business, and any “addiction” that can be manufactured by “experts” in the field is, well, good for business.

    Actually, considering the fact that no one has ever died as a direct result of consuming cannabis, but thousands die every year from alcohol, tobacco, or overeating…I would say that *IF* you must abuse a substance, cannabis abuse is better for your health.

  • denmark

    Why in the heck is this even being discussed? Like 99.9% of people HERE don’t realize what addiction entails?
    Thought this was a site that supports Legalization of Cannabis. I could give a rip about alcoholics, and don’t tell me I “should be concerned”.

  • Denmark, this is a site that supports and fights for the legalization of all drugs, including Cannabis.

    Sure, I could just limit the site to people who agree with me, but that’s a pretty stupid thing to do. It doesn’t help me get better at developing good, compelling arguments to convince the masses that have been subjected to propaganda that what they’ve been told all along is wrong.

    Danny Chapin, for the most part, agrees with us. But he is part of a very large and powerful treatment community that is part of the equation that we need to deal with, either to get them on our side, or to find the best way to oppose them. This is a great opportunity to learn, and I, for one, will not pass it up.

    I would eagerly welcome the drug czar to post here. I salivate at the notion of being able to debate a major prohibitionist. This makes me a better reformer.

    I know there are sites out there composed of potheads arguing to other potheads that pot should be legal. That’s a delightfully satisfying circle-jerk, but it doesn’t help get us closer to legalization.

    There are three things that I hope could come from this discussion:

    1. Danny Chapin may come away with a greater perspective on drug policy reform (I think he’s already learned that the numbers he’s been given regarding treatment are nowhere near as useful as he originally thought.)

    2. Readers stumbling onto this site googling marijuana and addiction, will find a thorough rebuttal to many of the traditional addiction arguments by the commenters (and by myself in the response pieces).

    3. I, and others here, will understand more about the treatment community so we can use that to our benefit in arguing for drug policy reform.

    Finally, if you don’t like the post, skip it.

  • Servetus

    If 45,187 is divided by the total number of daily marijuana users in the U.S. (assumed to be 12-million), we find the percentage of users voluntarily seeking treatment for cannabis use is 0.38-percent. The number, 0.38-percent, is significant only in the sense it’s not zero percent.

    The small percentage begs the question of proper diagnoses. Is marijuana really the culprit? Or is it something else. I’ve never heard of a drug treatment facility demanding a full physical examination of an inductee, nor of any demands for an examination by a psychologist or psychiatrist as a means of eliminating other possibilities for a person’s allegedly persistent marijuana habit. If a person smokes pot, there’s an a priori assumption by certain professional groups that marijuana is the problem, case closed.

    Is the person who checks into rehab suffering from depression? Or is the person in the insipient phases of schizophrenia, an affliction we know exhibits symptoms in early childhood. It’s understood that depressed people can reduce their symptoms to a certain degree by using cannabis. Depression can affect one out of ten people in their lifetime. Symptoms of depression include ongoing irritability and anxiety, exactly the symptoms being labeled as signs of cannabis withdrawal by the drug treatment community.

    Still another possibility is that someone might be using an alleged marijuana addiction to seek sanctuary from the big bad world by hiding out in an inpatient drug treatment center where they can feel they’re being taken care of by some kind of surrogate parent. After all, monasteries are in short supply in the 21st century.

    Speaking of monasteries, the drug treatment profession itself must be taken into account. Most drug treatment in the U.S. uses the 12-step method, a technique that’s been viewed as a religion by the courts. If too many of the drug treatment personnel comprise extreme religious types, it’s possible they reject science and scientific explanations for drug use and its effects altogether. They will choose to look at the whole thing instead as if were sin or possession by demons. No science will be forthcoming from this kind of mindset. And nothing that’s said about addiction can be trusted when it originates within such a feeble context.

  • DdC

    DdC,they can’t allow marijuana to be rescheduled to #2.
    That would remove the their power to refuse the studies you are referring too,required for marijuana to be recognized.

    Re-scheduling to a #2, with the patents already in their hands and their own Mississippi grower now claiming it has benefits. They have no choice if they want to keep it in the “family” of Pharmofreaks” States are undermining the Fed narkosluts and if they don’t re-schedule, it will be lost to the we the people growing raw plant materials to smoke instead of using their sativex. As stated there are just too many angles pointing to the center showing Ganja to be what it is, a benign plant that has many uses. Ganja can not stay a schedule#1 without BS or redefining what a schedule#1 is. Re-scheduling to #2 will set the stage to stigmatize growers as the bad guys once again, preventing legitimate “medicine”, not as the suppliers of what we demand at reasonable prices. Even legalizing Ganja in some states won’t free Hemp or re-creational. CA prop 215 has it covered for any reason as mostly a get out of jail free card. That is what the feds can’t have. So the only way to take down the 14 or so states with laws on the books is to re-schedule it as #2 “narcotic” falsely, since entheogens are hallucinogens, not narcotic. The only way to keep it classed out of our hands is keep it dangerous but give it medicinal status. They can’t do this without the same reefer madness “addiction” “psychotic” and body damage smoking plants bogus labels. The question is… are we going to let it happen? Or fiddle while Rome burns…

  • There seems to be a lot of convergence around the simple fact here that my article addresses the notion of addiction to marijuana and is thus not any argument for or against prohibition (although these two topics are clearly connected).

    I’m arguing these points:
    1) addiction is behavioral
    2) people can have a negative relationship w/ marijuana because their behavior can become compulsive
    3) 45,000 people are in treatment in the United States for pot because they have a bad/addictive relationship with it (which again, isnt about pot, but is about their relationship to the drug–aka their behaviors, want to keep shouting this point since everyone keeps asserting I argue pot is physically addictive, which it clearly isn’t, like most drugs except depressants)
    4) 45,000 people is enough people addicted to a not-physically addictive substance (thus behaviorally addicted) that we should have an abundance of education about the signs of addiction (that reflect the behavioral definition of addiction) to marijuana and other drugs and activities, which will in turn enable more people to recognize they have a negative relationship and also teach people a more accurate picture of “addiction to drugs”.

    Points 3 and 4 are most important.

    I feel like most of the comments on these threads have missed my questions and answers: to quote me:

    Q: “The question then is about marijuana: is marijuana the cause or simply a conduit for an addictive personality to unfold?”

    A: “…addiction is more a function of an individual than the inherent properties of a substance–marijuana itself isn’t addictive, it’s the individual’s behavior that expresses their compulsive relationship with the world and its objects.”

  • denmark

    Good argument Pete, and I’m not here to argue with you.
    Since I do better talking than writing let me please just say I find Danny’s obsession with addiction an addiction in and of its self.
    I’m an older person and am really quite tired of the “save the world” mentality, perhaps that’s why this is rubbing me the wrong way.

  • DdC

    Plus one of the arguments we make for states rights to grow is there is nothing available on the market. Except white powder and merdinol alternatives. Re-scheduling will give states the option to re-outlaw initiatives since now low and behold its been re-scheduled#2 and there is no need. It’s still a controlled substance, grow ops dead, homegrown unnecessary, drug markets prosper, copshops stay in the drug biz and Calvina can rehab the “addicts” til the cows come home. Problem solved… It’s not that I don’t trust my government or the fascist corporations. Well, yes it is.

  • warren

    Around the bush lies and crap

  • No problem, Denmark. I understand completely.

    I think if people take the time to really read and understand Danny’s comments, you’ll see that he agrees with us in most areas.

    There are those within the treatment industry who are completely amoral — fully prepared to advocate for drug war merely to generate new victims for their greed. Yet you’ve got to believe that many got into the business for other reasons — not because they were anti-drug, or pro-prohibition, but because they really wanted to help people.

    If we can create an argument for them that shows that ending prohibition will make it possible for them to better achieve their goals, then we can get them on our side.

  • Thanks Danny for commenting back to us.

    Look, we know information and education are key. Many of us have no problem pointing to the job education has done in reducing cigarette smoking/tobacco use. All accomplished Danny, with nary a shot fired, nary a smoker having his home raided and his dog/s shot…

    Addiction may be a condition you know a lot about, well, conversely Prohibition is a topic we know volumes about. And Prohibition is maintained because there are politicians and bureaucrats addicted to their power, even though their “facts” are not facts, but rather a mish-mash of excuses enabling their addiction to rage across the social landscape and create havoc and chaos (chaos, not anarchy, dammit).

    It is easily stated/proven that “Prohibition addiction” is far more harmful than cannabis addiction (even tho’ we all agree it’s not the cannabis but the person unable for whatever reason to control their compulsions).

    It is not so easy to argue in defense of Prohibition, in fact it is impossible.

    Why don’t you join us Danny, instead of doing your best to sidestep that point, oft raised in these discussions?

  • Allan, I appreciate your reply but honestly feel ill-equip to speak to the notion of prohibition addiction, as I’m not at all close to or know about the psychological tendencies of drug prohibition politicians. The best I can do is simply offer the truth that marijuana pales in comparison to many drugs, and a liberal, honest education about the effects of these drugs is more than necessary.

    I think, from a purely fiscal perspective, arrests in relation to marijuana are a waste of money, time, energy, and emotion. As a business-person I find the reckless spending of government funding on these “crimes” to be inefficient and ineffective–wasting money we need to solve real problems and having no significant impact on crime reduction. From what I remember, these crimes compose half of the drug-related crimes each year.

    As for my own interests: well, I honestly admit I’m not nearly as conservative as my arguments portray, but I simply offer a challenge and window into a different, very powerful perspective.

    So I continuously thank Pete for allowing me to speak this voice, and hope everyone here is benefiting from this dialog in some way or another.

  • Max

    If you’re confused why conversations re: prohibition have entered a debate about addiction, the explanation is a simple one.

    Professional politicians, for their own purposes, *use* guys like you, Mr. Chapin. Your insistent, never-say-die urge to classify all mind-altering substances or activities as potentially addictive is the carte blanche that regressive pols need to justify a never-ending war on substances and the people who use them.

    You say — incredibly — that you “don’t care about percentages.” This attitude aligns perfectly with the diverse and intractable political interests that benefit from drug prohibition generally, and marijuana prohibition in particular. When lobbyists and politicians can deploy the rhetoric of addiction, they can scare the general public into assenting to whatever unreasonable policy happens to be the flavor of the week. As long as you’re around, Mr. Chapin, with your definition of addiction spanning anything that can cause even a single individual to behave compulsively, these same dishonest pols can play the game forever.

    You may have encountered the neologism “concern-trolling” in the past. If not, I’ll define it for you: the act of pretending to engage in an honest debate on an open question, when in fact the debater’s intention is only to endlessly return to the same basic points, whether or not these points have been responded to or refuted. The ultimate goal of concern-trolling is to undermine opposing viewpoints by adopting a reasonable tone, while unreasonably refusing to ever concede defeat.

    Mr. Chapin, you’re a professional concern-troll. You admit that you have no interest in statistics regarding marijuana addiction, which is tantamount to admitting that you have no interest in national policy regarding marijuana addiction. And yet you are perfectly happy to broadcast your views on a public website, where they can be absorbed and used by the public to shape policy. There is no doubt in my mind that, if invited, you would testify before a congressional committee with the same carelessness.

    Why are we conflating your utterly bogus understanding of addiction with national prohibition policy? Because you, and other medical professionals like you, bear a tremendous amount of responsibility for the state of prohibition policy today.

  • Mr. Chapin opined that cannabis addiction is “Something which, if decriminalized or legalized, we must educate our young people about.”

    Surely we should everyone, parents, doctors, teachers and young people about cannabis and “addiction.” Indeed, social customs and mores are what really “control” drug use and prevent use from becoming abuse.

    The problem is that “zero tolerance” and prohibition impede honest education and the evolution of social controls.

    The implication is that decriminalization or legalization would remove some form or control that should be replaced with education. Yes, education is important, but do not fool yourself into believing that prohibition controls
    mitigates anything. We have more control over cat food than cannabis.

    Most chronic cannabis consumers are self-medicating psychological problems that they would otherwise treat with alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals or other more destructive alternatives.

    One might argue that they would be better off with SSRIs, or practicing TM or changing their diet, but we should not lose sight of the benefits chronic cannabis consumers gain.

    The vast majority of people who smoke cannabis chronically eventually “mature out” of the habit, cutting down or abstaining as they get jobs, find spouses and take on other responsibilities, with little if any discomfort. Most cannabis “addicts” do not need treatment, they just need a change of lifestyle, which may be inevitable.