Shame on Dr. Oz for speaking incorrectly about marijauna

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Smoke ’em if you got ’em

Dr. Oz is a successful heart surgeon and has a wildly popular talk show with audience participation on ABC in the United States. I have watched his show and generally agree with what he advises, especially since he recommends treatments using herbs and spices, as well as prescription drugs.

My admiration for Dr. Oz dropped considerably when I heard him say, on the CNN Piers Morgan show that “marijuana is as addictive as cigarettes.” His comment stunned me. After saying that the side effects of using marijuana medically are experiencing a high and getting the munchies, he then said that we all should be able to live in the one reality we have.

I am also an admirer of Dr. Andrew Weil, and have been since I read his first book, “The Natural Mind,” which he wrote after visiting tribal societies in South America studying their various uses of mind altering plants and rituals.

As a student of anthropology, I was reading about cultural universals, customs or behaviors that occur in every culture in the world. After reading his book, I became interested in the use of mind altering methods in various cultures. Whether it is alcohol, cactus, mushrooms, poppies, the coca leaf, marijuana, fermented whatever, or pharmaceuticals, it seems that every culture has something that can change one’s perception of reality, if only for a short time. Even animals find something that affects their brains. And they know what they are doing.

When you think about it, satisfying any one of our basic needs changes our perception of reality.

My indignation with Dr. Oz is that he seems to have been seduced to follow the official (and pharmaceutical) line about marijuana. This approach upsets me mainly because it is dishonest and has led to incorporating pot into a corruptive, life ruining, dangerous, fruitless and very profitable to all parties involved, war on drugs.

I believe, if practiced by consenting adults, that ingesting marijuana, like prostitution, is a victimless “crime.” Both lead to easy arrests compared to chasing a mugger or taking on a house invader. Pot does not make a person aggressive.

As has been said, alcohol lowers our inhibitions, marijuana lowers our defenses.

Unlike sins, the definition of what is a crime changes among cultures, countries and in time. (Probably sins do, too, but I have enough on my plate right now.) In the 18th century cannabis indica was used by medical doctors in many countries for a number of medical problems, from labor pains to asthma. The history of the criminalization of marijuana includes some evidence that growing or using it was criminalized in the U.S. (in the late 1930’s) spurred by the desire to destroy the hemp industry by companies making synthetic rope.

This topic has come to my fore, both because of Dr. Oz’s unsubstantiated declarations and reading in the paper that an expat was arrested in Costa Rica for growing marijuana, and our intrepid, but understaffed, police force managed to cuff some people at a festival because they possessed some pot. Then Thursday I heard on the news that a gentleman living in Leisure World (in Florida) was arrested for growing marijuana. The police confiscated what they figured would produced twenty-one pounds of pot and according to their estimate, “worth $94,000 on the street.” According to my math that comes to $280 an ounce. Somebody has to be kidding. That is the price of truffles which are a lot more difficult to harvest.

Only the human race can figure out a way to make a weed more expensive than truffles or caviar or saffron. Well, maybe not saffron. I realize that just as with other growing things, pot can be doctored and genetically altered. So today’s pot may be more potent, maybe even made as addictive as some pain pills. But even so, while it is easy to overdose on alcohol and some drugs, overdoses from inhaling pot are rare, deaths even rarer.

I am sorry to say that the conference to reevaluate the war on drugs in Central America never materialized because some countries actually boycotted the meeting. Did I mention that this particular war is profitable to everyone involved in it? Except, of course the consumer.

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