If you’re anything like me (and dear God, I hope you’re not), you probably have a bunch of browser tabs lying open on your computer as we speak. You probably know it’s too many tabs, you’ve probably heard folks say as much while looking over your shoulder for whatever reason, and your response is likely something along the lines of, “Yes, I know. Go away,” because you do know, and you have always known. Are you ever going to do anything about that? No, of course not. What a silly question.
Speaking of silly questions, several of my 17 open tabs are occupied by articles questioning the connection between cannabis and mental health, which has been a subject of speculation for longer than any of us have been alive (with the exception of Betty White). I also have more than a dozen tabs open in my phone’s browser. One of them has been open for a full six months. The fact that it’s an article by Ann Coulter may give rise to speculation about my own mental health, but I think that ship has sailed.
Anyway, Coulter’s May 15 column, “These Are Real ‘High Crimes,’” is one of the most absurdly alarmist anti-weed screeds I’ve ever read, and I have read all of them. Full disclosure: I positively adore Coulter, safely from a distance. But this right-winger is way out in left field here, building on the legacy of Harry I-lied-to-Congress-199-out-of-200-times Anslinger by citing a bunch of violent crimes, which she blames on the perpetrator’s use of marijuana. This is big talk, coming from the world’s most famous Grateful Dead fan, and it’s shocking that people still believe such things.
I have an old friend who once smoked a bunch of weed and had a nervous breakdown. At least, that’s what everyone thinks happened. Surely it had nothing to do with losing his teaching job because he got arrested at The Jacksonville Landing in connection with a brawl that he was only trying to help break up, and certainly nothing to do with not being able to see his daughter because losing that job caused him to fall behind on his child-support payments. And it certainly had nothing to do with having aging relatives abroad that he was unable to visit because he couldn’t afford plane tickets, or because his legal situation meant that even if he could get home to visit them, he might not be allowed back in the country—not that it mattered, because everything he loved had already been taken away from him. No, it was definitely the weed, but this gets into the crucial matter of causality.
Cannabis does not, in and of itself, cause mental illness (although the prices at some of these dispensaries will drive you crazy). That said, it’s also true that folks suffering from preexisting mental or emotional distress are more likely to gravitate toward drugs of all types, including alcohol. You would think that Coulter, who really thought Trump was going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, would know that better than most. The problem is not drugs; it’s depression, and any palliative measures are mere shortcuts. There is no substitute for overall wellness.