Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pot: harmless, or what?

Wowser. What an interesting word. It’s an Australian colloquialism dating from the 19th century. But its etymology’s unclear [1, 2]. Okay, I admit it: I’m a wowser. At least regarding myself. I don’t gamble, smoke, or drink alcohol. And I don’t use illicit substances. No swallowing, smoking, snorting or injecting them for me. My mental functions are deteriorating quickly enough without any chemically-induced acceleration, thank you. I vaguely recall nibbling a hash cookie over a decade ago. And that’s it. I’ve never even had a puff of marihuana – inhaled or otherwise. Marihuana (aka cannabis) [3] is prepared from the Asian flowering plant Cannabis (pictured) [4]. The UN estimates that in 2004 about 4% of the word’s adult population (i.e. 162M people) used it at least annually, and about 0.6% (i.e. 22.5M) used it daily. It was thought to be pretty harmless stuff. Pretty safe. Pretty benign. But as research results accumulate, it’s becoming apparent that this isn’t so at all. Recently the Archives of General Psychiatry published an Australian meta-analysis of 83 studies involving over 20,000 people [5]. It showed smoking cannabis brings forward the onset of psychotic illness; and, less conclusively, it causes psychosis too [6]. Thus, in terms of the above definition of wowser, smoking cannabis can no longer be thought of as a minor vice. So as least as far as cannabis/marihuana/weed/pot’s concerned, I’m not a wowser after all. Ho hum.


Meg said...

>I vaguely recall nibbling a hash cookie over a decade ago.

Did you hear that, other Eddies!!

Kate said...