Quite appropriately, my thoughts on cannabis are similar to my thoughts on Canibus the rapper. I think that they are good in some ways but that they have far too many enthusiastic fans who exaggerate their claims of greatness and importance. They have powerful enemies (in the case of the drug, the legal system and parts of the federal government; in the case of the rapper, Eminem and LL Cool J, among others) and have achieved a certain moderate degree of success that is usually overhyped. There are, of course, some differences. There are some ways in which cannabis can be good for one’s health, and while the public tide seems to be growing increasingly fond of the ways in which marijuana can help people tune out from their miserable existence, it seems unlikely that Canibus will enjoy a late-career revival of the same kind of popularity. I only mention this because one of the more amusing aspects of my writing is the way in which one blog entry in particular has incensed a large degree of potheads who would otherwise care very little bit about my writing.
Some time ago  I caught a comment on tv that related to the question of whether marijuana was in the Bible (hint: like Mohammed, it’s not). I thought, correctly, that it would not be a matter of particular difficulty to demonstrate that the plant did not meet the qualifications of the plant of renown and that the post would be an easy way to point out the folly of our culture and of its obsession with dangerous chemicals as a way of dealing with the problems of existence. Yet my general lighthearted feeling about swatting away some of the more ridiculously bad attempts at eisegesis by terrible Bible commentators failed to account for something that has sometimes annoyed me but more generally amused me, and that is the Manichean worldview of pot enthusiasts. There is an assumption that appears to be widespread–at least according to the comments I get–that one is either a supporter of all the uses of marijuana or someone who is a cruel and tyrannical opponent of the cannabis plants in all cases, and an irrational person who must be opposed. As is usual, my own feelings about cannabis, and virtually everything else, is far more complex than that. As someone whose feelings in general are complicated and ambivalent, I am not surprised that people whose emotions are far less so would assume that the world is divided into two extremes on this and other issues, although it would be good if people recognized that ambivalence is not an uncommon feeling and to accord it its proper place in one’s understanding of others.
As someone who is continually reminded of the popularity of marijuana by the presence of various dispensaries wherever I go in the Pacific Northwest, I am somewhat out of step with the spirit of the times in being so opposed to intoxication. To be fair, this is not a knock at marijuana alone. In general, I have adverse feelings to the use of chemicals to alter one’s moods, and some fairly hostile opinions about those who seek to manipulate and control people through chemicals. For example, my family’s negative history and my own sensitivity to alcohol mean that I rarely consume any alcoholic beverages at all, even wine coolers, except in a safe place I do not plan on leaving for a while. I dislike all forms of smoking and like it as far away from me as possible, and I even have a marked dislike for the way that companies often seek to manipulate the productivity of their employees through liberal provisions of coffee and energy drinks. And, of course, like many others, I am concerned about the use and abuse of opioides as a way of dealing with pain. I do not wish it to be thought that my hostility to mind-altering materials singles out any of these in particular. I view, in general, our society’s unwillingness to accept that pain and suffering are a part of life that must be faced rather than escaped and our tendency to manipulate our behavior chemically as troublesome, and marijuana is just one part of a vastly larger problem.
It should be noted as well, that I have no hostility to a variety of uses for cannabis that do not include intoxication. While my thoughts on the use of cannabis oil for pain relief are similar to my thoughts on other drugs used for that purpose, I have no special animus against it that I do not have for other medicines that are frequently abused and very easily become habit-forming. That said, there are uses of hemp that use it as a fabric or for other industrial purposes, and it is quite strong and very worthwhile in these purposes. A hemp bag may be strong enough to carry my books in a way that other inferior bags are not equipped to do, for example, and as a clothing material it is at least in the same ballpark as cotton as a fabric in terms of its benefits. I think we should make more use of hemp on that level, and tend to enjoy the products that people make from hemp. I also think that one can enjoy the proper uses of hemp, have a great deal of concern about medicinal purposes, and be steadfastly opposed to intoxication, and not be hostile to the plant or people who grow it for profit. Perhaps cultural conversations would be easier to discuss if Manichean dualism wasn’t the rule of the day.