As the internets have so thoroughly noted, Easter and 4/20 happened to coincide this year.That holds little interest for me, as none of my friends even provided the amusement of posting a picture of medible Peeps (or if they did, I sadly missed it).The lure of pot passed me by, as I wasn’t cool in high school and worked my way through college. At campus rallies for gay rights and free speech, I was the one rolling my eyes at the dude yelling, “Legalize it!”I’ve heard all the arguments for marijuana in earnest — that it’s less dangerous than alcohol and can make you more creative and relax you. Maybe it’s a reaction to hailing from the so-called slacker generation (or watching “South Park” too many times), but being unmotivated and stuffing yourself with cheese balls personally doesn’t sound very appealing.Nonetheless, I’m rather libertarian about such things, as I am about birth control, gay marriage and abortion. These are essentially private decisions and I don’t see how it’s the government’s business.I’m also not a big fan of prison overcrowding thanks to a glut of nonviolent offenders. Michigan spends 21 percent of its budget on Corrections.More people are sporting a laissez-faire attitude about marijuana — not surprising when Gallup finds 38 percent have used it. Michigan in 2008 legalized medical marijuana and now 20 states and Washington, D.C. have done so.Dozens of cities, including Flint and Kalamazoo, have decriminalized small amounts of weed for recreational use. And in 2012, so did the states of Washington and Colorado. (The Rocky Mountain State has seen millions in new revenue from the law).The issue has split Republicans, with the liberty crowd favoring legalization pitted against the religious right (69 percent of evangelicals are opposed).The “Reefer Madness” hyperbole was omnipresent in a recent column by Dan Calabrese, editor of failed presidential contender Herman Cain’s website (you’re forgiven for not knowing of the existence of “Best of Cain,” but Calabrese also blogs for the Detroit News).Fellow MLive columnist Ken Braun deserves credit for flagging on Facebook the odd piece, in which Calabrese claims pot “invites demonic infestation into your spirit.”
“The use of mind-altering substance for ‘recreational’ purposes puts a person at serious risk of demonic attack because what you’re doing is rejecting the natural chemicals God already put in your body as insufficient to satisfy you physically and emotionally,” Calabrese explains.
Now I give him credit for essentially tying Easter and 4/20 in a pretty little bow, but Braun acerbically writes that Calabrese’s accompanying photo features a “bunny-boiler expression that would frighten a Branch Davidian.” (You can judge for yourself here).But here’s where things go from bizarre to disturbing. In a follow-up interview with the Raw Story, Calabrese goes even further, demonizing anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications and urging folks to focus on Christ:
“I would probably argue all psychiatric drugs — you know, even if you do have a prescription, that you’re still in spiritual jeopardy if you use those things.”
More than one in four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Illness. Arguing people shouldn’t take medicine prescribed by doctors because they’re risking their immortal souls sounds like superstition from the dark ages.
I’ve been a caregiver for someone with severe depression, and just getting people to seek help and take medication is a heartbreaking battle. Calabrese’s weirdly moralistic (and medically inaccurate) advice is the last thing they need to hear.
Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter here.