Life is replete with examples of people sacrificing for the greater good. Some of these acts of sacrifice are monumental such as a soldier sacrificing his life for a comrade in battle or Marie Curie sacrificing her life in the pursuit of science and for the benefit of mankind. There are also less noticeable forms of sacrifice, like a child with plenty giving up a favorite toy to a less fortunate friend or a young person surrendering their seat on a bus to an elderly passenger.
What would you sacrifice to ensure the betterment of others?
Self-sacrifice is generally defined as “a giving up of one’s own interests or wishes in order to help others or to advance a cause.” People who were raised in the Great Depression (like my parents), for example, understood what it meant to be poor without any modern-day safety-nets, and to sacrifice for their family and friends. They were not in a position to be self-indulgent so they were thankful for what little they had, made do with the resources they earned and often shared these meager resources with others. Contrast this with modern-day America where children suffer “anxiety attacks” if forced to part with their cellphones at school or where many of the top 10 health conditions are linked to unhealthy lifestyles and are, therefore, in many cases preventable. Although I support “responsible” capitalism, putting profits before people or engaging in unnecessary self-indulgences at the expense of one’s self or the welfare of one’s community is a betrayal of the greater good.
In an effort to profit from recreational marijuana, 11 states to date have legalized its use. Despite assurances that legalization would undermine the black market, statistics show that the sale of unregulated pot is still alive and well in Canada and the United States. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knew that these assurances were bogus simply based on the tendency of consumers to want to buy products as inexpensively as possible. The burden of taxes and government regulations on “legal” sales has made the products offered by illicit sellers far more attractive to many consumers.
Whether purchased from a licensed dealer or a black-market seller, the rate of marijuana use continues to rise without the social stigmatization that once helped to deter its use by younger segments of our population. As a consequence, based on recent surveys, pot use among young people in legal states has risen by 8% in the past year and is 50% higher than use in nonlegal states. Other research recently published by professors at New York University and Columbia found that marijuana addiction among adolescents was 25% higher in states where it is legal while marijuana vaping among high school students has more than doubled since 2017.
According to an article in JAMA Psychiatry, marijuana use in adolescence is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide in young adulthood (ages 18 to 32). Data pooled from 11 studies of over 23,300 individuals revealed that “adolescents who used marijuana were 40% more likely to suffer from depression, 50% more likely to experience suicidal ideation and 250% more likely to attempt suicide in young adulthood.”
The case of Andrew Zorn from Phoenix, as highlighted in a recent USA Today article, is a tragic testament to the destructive power of this supposedly innocuous drug. After being diagnosed with “severe cannabis use disorder,” Zorn lamented in a suicide note to his parents that “marijuana killed my soul (and) ruined my brain.”
There is a moral imperative to protect the most vulnerable among us to ensure the health of future generations. We inoculate our kids to protect them against disease, we send them to school to nourish their minds but we sacrifice their futures, and sometimes their very lives, for the sake of making money and for the joy of our own momentary highs.
Shelly Aldean is a Carson City resident.