Richard Neville and Marijuana

Is cannabis addictive? Are video games addictive? Is Diet Coke addictive? Is chocolate addictive? What about coffee? Some would answer yes to all of these, and to a certain extent they would be right. Some would answer no to all of these, and they too would be right. Is heroin addictive? Yes. Alcohol? Yes, to some people. Love? Probably. Exercise? Probably.

So then how should we talk about cannabis and addiction. Here is what we suggest: People enjoy cannabis. Some people enjoy cannabis more than others. Anything that is enjoyable (and even some things that are not) can lead to “addiction” in the sense that some people consume too much too frequently. Is that chocolate’s fault? Is that exercise’s fault? That’s your call, but we say it is not. And we say it is not the fault of cannabis either.

Should we ban chocolate? Should we make exercising illegal? What about Diet Coke? Alcohol? Video games? We most emphatically say no to all of these and no doubt nearly all of you say the same thing? But why not make them illegal if they cause some people problems? The simple answer is that the harms these things cause are for the overwhelming majority of people greatly outweighed by their benefits. More importantly, who do you want to decide on whether you or anyone else can exercise and how much? Who do you want deciding on when you can eat chocolate and how much? Who do you want controlling your love life? If you answered the government via our legal system to all of these last three questions, then you should be for making cannabis illegal. But if — like virtually everyone — you answered no to all three of these questions, then you should be for the legalization of cannabis.

Do you agree with us, or do you think we are off base here? Please share your thoughts as a comment below.