It seems that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is grasping at strings to develop a drug to treat the fabled “marijuana withdrawal symptoms.” With people dying every day from legal over-the-counter and prescription drugs, investing time and money into marijuana addiction research already seems shocking enough. This is a new low; they want to use a blatantly addictive drug – nicotine – to treat the alleged withdrawal symptoms of a plant they have only recently shown to be addictive. What’s more, researchers’ characterization of marijuana withdrawal and dependence is so vague, reading the morning paper or checking your social media account every day might as well be heroin.
Assigning cannabis to the category of addictive drugs has its roots in the recently published fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which gives a whole list of exaggerated marijuana withdrawal symptoms, but says only suffering from two off the list means you are withdrawing. While excessive use of cannabis can lead to an unproductive lifestyle, some studies play it out to be as addictive as all other drugs of abuse. According to an article in Esquire, DSM-5 expanded the window of diagnosis for ADHD in children, giving drug companies 20 million extra customers. This doesn’t quite paint a picture of an unbiased organization that really wants to help patients and doesn’t care about profits.
This possible bias, added to NIDA’s uneven efforts into researching cannabis’ minute negative side, will slowly give birth to a perfect storm marijuana-bashing pseudo-science that will rain bullshit onto activists’ efforts to legalize pot. We don’t care that weed isn’t completely innocuous; it’s obvious that enjoyment without consequences doesn’t exist. But it’s a fact that it’s not remotely as harmful as alcohol or cigarettes; all we want to do is get high on something that doesn’t give us a hangover, liver damage, emphysema, lung cancer, or get us arrested.