CANNABIS CULTURE – Pot smokers don’t need prison or punishment any more than gays do.
For much of western history, homosexuality was seen as a criminal act which needed to be punished and stopped to protect society. At other times, homosexuality was seen as a sickness to be cured with surgery or mental therapy.
Often both claims were mashed together, that being gay is a kind of criminal insanity requiring both punishment and medical treatment.
Sometimes popular opinion was split between the hard-liners who wanted to imprison homosexuals, and the more “scientific” people who just wanted to “cure” them with forced therapy and medication.
Now our society finally understands that homosexuality is neither a crime nor a sickness, it’s simply part of the natural variation of human beings.
This is a fairly recent change; the World Health Organization only declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990. Now psychiatric groups advocate for societal change rather than trying to “fix” sexual orientation. They acknowledge that being gay is normal, and that prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are the real causes of harm.
Pot smokers are the new gays
Cannabis users are now in the exact same situation. Society can’t decide if we’re criminals who need punishment, or sickos who need treatment.
The laws against possession mean we’re all criminals, but often users are portrayed as sick victims being preyed upon by predatory “drug pushers.” (Just like young homosexuals were portrayed as victims who had been “turned gay” by older gay predators.)
New-wave prohibition groups like SAM want to appear more reasonable, so they call for “treatment” of pot smokers instead of prison. Yet just like with gay people, there’s nothing to cure with cannabis users, because it’s normal to want to use cannabis.
“Cannabis use disorder”
While the idea of homosexuality as a mental illness is on the way out, the idea that cannabis users all have a mental disorder is gaining in popularity. In 2014, the DSM-5 added “cannabis intoxication” and “cannabis use disorder” as new mental conditions. (DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used to define mental illnesses.)
You have “cannabis use disorder” if you have a strong desire to use cannabis, and you spend “a great deal of time” seeking it out. (I guess I don’t have it because I don’t spend any time seeking out cannabis – it’s always on my bedside table.)
Also, if it takes a little more weed to get you high than it did the first time you toked, then they say you’ve got cannabis use disorder. If your parents give you a hard time about smoking pot because they’re alcoholic hypocrites, it’s because you have cannabis use disorder.
Where does all this lead? Where we once had forced “gay-to-straight” conversion therapy, now we’re heading down the same horrifying path with “stoner-to-straight” conversion therapy. Find out more in my next column.