President Barack Obama said to the New Yorker last week, “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Is he right? Is the use of marijuana a less harmful “vice” than drinking?
A study by Northwestern University published on Dec. 7, 2013 attempts to answer the question. The study looked at the brains of 20-something-year-olds who had quit using marijuana two years prior to the study. Memory-related parts of their brains had shrunken and collapsed inward. This abnormality is not all that different from the brains of people with schizophrenia.
The younger the subjects were when they started, the more extreme their brain abnormalities.
On the other hand, there is alcohol, for which the Centers for Disease Control have released a long list of short- and long-term effects, including risks for stroke, dementia, cardiovascular problems, depression, anxiety, a large and frightening variety of cancers, and liver diseases.
It is possible that because marijuana is not as pervasive in our society, it has side effects that we don’t yet know of. However, a cursory glance seems to confirm that the President is right.
However, this is not an endorsement. We the Threefold believe that the human body was created by God, and that we are stewards of ourselves as much as we are of the rest of Creation. Neither the use of alcohol nor the use of marijuana is a responsible use of our time, money or health. Not to mention that both are against covenant.