Here’s hoping for some civil discourse about marijuana

Derrick Knutson
Derrick Knutson

When this column goes on the Internet, I think I’ll tag it “weed,” “reefer,” “dope,” “ganja” and just about any other name I can think of for marijuana.

Maybe I’ll also tag it “same-sex marriage,” “politics,” “Affordable Health Care Act” and “Roe v. Wade” just to see who might comment on it.

Those tags should lead to a slew of well-reasoned, thoroughly researched, balanced comments, right?

There is a minute possibility that could happen, but what will likely transpire is a multitude of angry comments from anonymous people about how they are in favor or against any number of the aforementioned hot-button issues.

Recently, our website was bombarded by the pro-medical marijuana crowd after two columns – one by Rep. Bob Barrett titled, “Medical Marijuana is not the answer” and another by Matt Howard of the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau headlined, “Marijuana is not safe” – were posted Aug. 21.

I really don’t care if you’re pro-marijuana or completely against the substance.

What I do care about is how readers choose to show their support or objection to an issue.

Some of the comments that I let slide online were the basic “You’re dumb! Weed is good!” type of posts, but others became downright crass and were riddled with swear words and insults.

Those I deleted; I also did not approve comments that were really out-of-bounds when it comes to facts.

One reader posted that he or she wholeheartedly believes marijuana cures cancer. Call some doctors! It’s great to know someone finally found a cure to a disease that has been the thorn in the side of science for generations.

Another gent wrote that marijuana makes a person a “more cautious driver.”

Here’s that actual comment, which I didn’t approve initially, but I guess in this format it’s getting some limelight:

“A driver under the influence of cannabis tends to overcompensate for their state by driving slower and more cautiously. The alcohol user increases speed and recklessness. So even if you’re high the odds are you’re driving at 5 mp/h thinking your traveling at 40 mp/h. Watch out for that collision … you might dent your car a bit.”

It would be real safe to drive down a freeway at night at 5 mph because you’re high as a kite and want to be “cautious,” right?

I really have no idea where this guy got the driving information he was referencing, as was the case with many other comments I didn’t approve.

Some had paragraph after paragraph of percentages and statistics with the writers never actually noting where those figures came from.

As Stephen Wright once wrote, “42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.”

I don’t argue with the assertion that there are at least some medicinal aspects to marijuana.

I went to a presentation at Chisago Lakes High School last December where Dr. Charlie Reznikoff, a general medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, spoke about marijuana.

“There are definite medicinal effects to marijuana,” he said during the presentation. “Anyone who says otherwise, that’s just not true.”

He noted the substance is a fairly potent pain reliever, stronger than Advil or ibuprofen. He said it’s comparable to some low-dose narcotic pain relievers.

He also explained marijuana can relieve nausea in many people, except in rare cases where smoking or ingesting it can actually make a person vomit.

But he noted the negative effects far outweigh the positive ones: It’s addictive, it impairs a person’s ability to drive, and smoking marijuana been linked to chronic bronchitis and other ailments, just to name a few.

Feel free to agree or disagree with Reznikoff; I just ask that you keep your comments clean and cite your sources if you start bringing up statistics and other “facts.”

Or you can just make stuff up and write an angry post that won’t get approved, because, well, that’s a whole lot more fun than spending the time to actually track down some valid information.

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