Alexander Woollcott quipped that “All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.” He died in 1943 so he missed so many other hazards that modern science would discover.
For example, The Guardian reports that a new study says, “Any amount of alcohol consumption harmful to the brain.
A senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford said that a “UK study of 25,000 people finds even moderate drinking is linked to lower grey matter density.”
The Guardian explains, “The associations of wine-drinking with higher educational attainment and socioeconomic status may explain the perceived health benefits, the authors suggested.
“If you look at who is moderately drinking, at least in this country, they are better educated, wealthier people that would do much better on a memory test … just because of who they are, than people that are less educated,” said lead author, Anya Topiwala, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford.
In other words, smart people, everyone from Jesus to Bill Buckley, have been drinking wine and giving it a good name, but now we know they would have been even smarter, if only…
Of course, there have been countless articles warning about health risks from marijuana use. Last year, an article, “How Casual Marijuana Can Cause Brain Abnormalities”.
One of the standard arguments against marijuana legalization is based on the view that the human brain isn’t fully developed until we are 25, so cannabis should not be legalized for people who aren’t at least that old.
Of course, the contraband markets don’t have age limits, and scientists need to factor that into policy recommendations. Also, public health choices are not a “zero-sum game.”
Now consider that “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day. These deaths shorten the lives of those who die by an average of almost 29 years, for a total of 2.8 million years of potential life lost.”
And yet alcohol prohibition was a disaster that was abandoned after 13 years, while it has taken almost a century to repeal marijuana prohibition, even though marijuana may help with alcoholism.
The most direct response to Woolcott’s quip is that “The dose makes the poison”.
That is the only realistic answer to those who claimed that there is no “harmless” level for alcohol or cannabis use. And that is also true of pandemics. Another quote from Woollcott seems very relevant today:
“I’m tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it.”
In the real world, people should try to take care of their health, but public health advice should be realistic.
- Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Unconventional Ways To Use CBD.