I want you to file away in your memory banks a study that came out this week from researchers at Northwestern University. The study finds that even casual use of marijuana causes brain damage in young adults. I want you to remember that as the point at which the seeds of a giant lawsuit were sown.
There won't be any claims filed tomorrow, or next week or even later this year. That's because the focus of pot smokers right now is to expand the legality of their favorite drug. That means advocacy groups will be denying the impact of the study or using their standby excuse that "alcohol is a lot worse for you than pot and it's legal." Democratic lawmakers will insist that the "science is not settled yet" on the safety of marijuana use--and that drug laws only exist to put minorities in prison--while Republicans will use the study to call for stricter restrictions on the use of pot because it is "obviously turning our young people into mindless zombies totally incapable of getting or keeping a job."
Eventually, there will be more studies done--some supporting the Northwestern findings, some coming up with completely different results. More states will legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use, and maybe even the Federal government will drop its pot laws. Companies will become comfortable with marijuana as a cash crop and a legitimate retail product and will put their production and marketing might behind it--turning weed into an industry worth billions and perhaps trillions annually. And THAT is when the lawsuits will begin! Because who are you going to sue now? Braden, the college kid that scores you a baggie or two every couple of weeks from some guys that he knows down in Milwaukee?
Attorneys for long-time pot smokers (who by that point will be barely able to function) will file all kinds of claims--targeting those companies (we'll call them "Big Pot"). The arguments will point back to that April 2014 Northwestern study that found smoking weed kills your brain cells as "proof" Big Pot knew for decades that the product they were selling to an "unsuspecting" public was dangerous to their health. Why weren't there warning labels? Advocacy groups will demand "justice" for those who smoked away their mental capacity every Friday and Saturday night for years. Democratic lawmakers will make speeches about how "Corporate greed led to a coverup of clear scientific and medical proof that marijuana use was harmful to your health"--while Republicans will defend the pot-makers against that liability, arguing that they were selling a "completely legal product to customers who were well aware of the risks".
Perhaps PBS Frontline should interview the three Northwestern researchers right now for their expose in 20 to 30 years about how they knew of the dangers of pot smoking--but that they were "silenced" and "publicly discredited" so that Americans could continue their enjoyment of the product. They can call that episode Bong of Denial.
So again, just commit this week and this study to memory--unless you enjoy a toke or two every once in awhile--in which case you can just continue in your blissful ignorance.