Marijuana and the Male Adolescent Brain

Marijuana and the Male Adolescent Brain November 8, 2018

 

A patch of marijuana
Cannabis sativa (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

“Marijuana may change the decision-making part of teen brains: A new rat study hints at damage during adolescence”

 

I’ve described myself on innumerable occasions here on this blog as a conservative who leans libertarian with respect to many issues.  Part of the point of that self-description is to indicate that I’m not a full-blown libertarian.  (I have . . . umm, reservations.)  And I’m certainly not a capital-L Libertarian.

 

I’m a strongly free-market guy.  And I’m inclined to laissez-faire on a lot of other issues, as well.  Or, at least, I’m strongly inclined to consider laissez-faire positions.

 

I think, for instance, that the libertarian critique of interventionist United States foreign policy is extremely important and very much worth serious consideration.  But I’m not entirely sold on it in all or even most cases, and I worry that, if it’s adopted and proves mistaken, the consequences of such a mistake for our national security and for the wellbeing of the world could be grave.

 

Libertarian policy preferences on drugs concern me as well, sympathetic to them as I actually am.  I don’t feel strongly one way or the other on the legalization of marijuana.  My preference is to live and let live on such issues.  If alcohol is legal, it’s not absolutely clear to me on what principled grounds marijuana should not be.  The only difference between the two may be that alcohol has been legal and widely accepted for millennia (and is routinely consumed by legislators and judges and regulators), whereas cannabis has not been and is widely associated with the 60s and that era’s often quite absurd counterculture.

 

But the article above may suggest one reason for regulating it.  I’m in favor of freedom of rational or at least individual choice.  But a drug that may hamper rational judgment, and not merely temporarily, clouds that libertarian preference.  It seems problematic to fight very energetically for the freedom to decide to damage one’s capacity to decide.

 

And, candidly, having grown up in California during the sixties with a fair number of friends who did marijuana, the notion that their minds were clouded by drug use even when they weren’t strictly-speaking “high” seems to me not even remotely incredible.

 

That, anyway, is one of the reasons that I find myself unable, despite my libertarian leanings, to jump with any great enthusiasm on the bandwagon for making cannabis more freely available and accessible.

 

***

 

While we’re on the subject of brain health, incidentally, I might as well call your attention to this:

 

“Loneliness is bad for brains: Solitary confinement shrinks nerve cells in mice, study finds”

 

The social benefits of such things as activity in the Church are not to be lightly dismissed.

 

 

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