A Shift In Culture
CNN recently made headlines when one of their reporters, Randi Kaye, reveled the new year by placing a lit gas mask marijuana bong over her face amidst a crowd of pot enthusiasts as part of their 2018 new year’s celebration countdown on live TV. The resulting firestorm on social media was swift, but she also had a large share of defenders. Does the fact that this act would be unthinkable on live news just a few years ago highlight a positive or negative shift in our society?
How did the shift in our culture culminate with a famous news reporter placing a bong to her face on live news happily to demonstrate to millions of families and children how to celebrate good times with using drugs?
Substance abuse addiction is real and it is a heartbreaking and painful reality for families all over our society, both for those who struggle and for those who are in relationships with addicts. Showing addictive substances and demonstrating how to use a bong on live TV with children and families watching all over the nation, many of whom actually deal with the heartbreaking struggle of addiction, highlights a compelling and drastic shift in culture that can have detrimental effects on the lives and families that are touched by addiction.
Marijuana, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is the most widely used of all illicit drugs. Its primary psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but also contains over 500 additional chemicals and compounds.1 There is a pervasive attitude in our culture that Marijuana is a natural plant, and thus, healthy for the human body. Some people don’t even see it as a drug, and classify it on the same level as any other kind of produce one would find in the supermarket. The notion that Marijuana is as healthy as broccoli or brussels sprouts is objectively and scientifically false.
Marijuana is addictive. The DSM-5 disorder for Marijuana is called Cannabis Use Disorder and is characterized by an inability to stop using, an inordinate amount of time spent consumed by the drug, and compounded by interference in relationships and life activities such as work, school, responsibility, and hygiene. Marijuana addiction is responsible for countless destroyed lives and deaths, most notably in the form of vehicular accidents.
According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, vehicular accidents in marijuana states have risen since the drug was legalized. Marijuana related fatal car accidents have surged in Washington State, for example, after legalization.2
The idea that something is healthy because it’s natural is a misconception. Today’s health and wellness culture favors natural ingredients, and companies everywhere have been retooling their ingredients to lessen the amount of chemicals in their food products. And while this is a good thing, of course, it has unfortunately given rise to a false notion that natural equates to healthy. Cyanide is natural, for example, it is found all over the organic world, even found in apples. This doesn’t make it healthy. Today’s culture considers Marijuana as the “healthy alternative” to cigarettes.
Cigarettes are bad, but pot is healthy.
Business insider recently wrote an article titled “23 health benefits to Marijuana”.3 And it is not alone. Many other news outlets have, over the recent years, associated the words “marijuana” with “healthy”, no different than associating “exercise” with “healthy” or “salads” with “healthy.” The problem is, however, that marijuana is a drug that is classified by the FDA. There are also many “health benefits” to Advil and Tylenol, but people don’t normally associate the term “health benefits” to a biologically active drug. And this is part of the false narrative that resulted in CNN demonstrating how to smoke a gas-mask bong on live news, that too often the concept of “health benefits” and marijuana have been inexorably linked causing people to disregard its addictive and potentially destructive properties, either by ignorance or on purpose.
Would CNN ever consider going to a bar or frat party and demonstrating how to ingest a beer bong among drunkenness as a show of celebration and happiness? Considering all the families and people who have suffered as a result alcoholism, a very real problem in our society, it would be incomprehensible that a news outlet would do this, and yet there was CNN at the end of 2017 doing that very thing with an addictive and illicit drug. All because of the false narrative in our society that pot=plant=green=natural=healthy. Addiction is not a joke. It is not fun or light-hearted. It is a life-gripping struggle for those who are affected by it, and our children should be taught that recreational drug use is a danger with the potential to take over and destroy their lives and not illuminate it and revel in it as something that is part of a celebration.
Arthur Hunter is a computer programmer and co-founder of Theravive. He has been in the tech industry for over 20 years, with multiple Microsoft certifications. He has a love and passion for the intersection of technology and mental health and how the gadgets we use and the time we spend on them play a part in our mental well being, for better or worse. Together with his wife in 2007 they founded Theravive, which currently has thousands of licensed therapists and psychologists. He enjoys writing on occasion, reporting on mental health and technology. You can reach Arthur at 360-350-8627 or write him at webadmin - at - theravive.com.