Why is there this trend, this force, in 'stoner culture', to deny any harms of cannabis, especially its addictive potential? It essentially amounts to glorification, which no one who believes in harm reduction should tolerate.
There are many reasons for this. Doubtless it is a reaction to the decades (bordering on centuries now) of slander hurled at Cannabis and its users by politicians and the religious right-wing. The now infamous 'reefer madness' (1936) propaganda hatchet job of a film claimed that Cannabis use led to violent crime and madness. The most popular argument today is the sheer incredulity anyone of sense has over Alcohol's relative harmfulness to Cannabis and yet their respective legal status' seeming to bear no relation to that reality. Defending this absurd status quo causes politicians today to continue spreading lies against cannabis. The ex-Prime minister of the UK Gordon Brown claimed that the 'skunk' variety of Cannabis was 'Lethal'. Hopefully a breaking point is reached sometime soon.
Now I could easily understand why this systematic campaign of propaganda against cannabis by 'the system' would cause stoners to be a bit sensitive and touchy about any claims about the harms of cannabis. But Cannabis has harms. What has to be realised is that glorification is just as bad as exaggeration of harm, at least when it comes to the criteria of rationality. For sure, the consequences and despicable nature of the exaggeration has been worse than the glorification I want to talk about here. But they are equally inaccurate deviations from the truth. So when it comes to accurately portraying the harms of Cannabis, as any ideal future harm reduction based approach to drug use must strive towards - the glorification of stoner culture and the propaganda of the political class are simply two opposing extremes of the same spectrum. They are both lies. Lies told with very different intent, for very different reasons and with a malignant system of power behind one and a victimised culture of minorities behind the other - but both lies nonetheless.
So I want to encourage people to realise that as drug users who believe in harm reduction, we should try to be better than the political class and other the other puritanical social classes who lied about the harms of Cannabis. We can be those who rationally accept the harms yet judge the benefits to outweigh them. That is the future. That is the attitude which will give us the best shot at legalizing too in my view.
There's another reason I think there is this denialist force in stoner culture especially against admitting that Cannabis addiction is real. The reason is, I think, that they are addicts. It's a common theme that those who are addicted to something deny it if they can. "I've got my use under control" is a phrase we all know the true meaning of. Now for harder drugs than Cannabis, addiction very quickly becomes pathological and destructive to the addicts life. However the Cannabis addict can muddle on without the same level of interference. So the "I've got my use under control" illusion isn't brought to a crushing impact with rock-bottom-reality in the same way.
This means that the denial can continue and spread. What I'm claiming then is that the belief in stoner culture that cannabis isn't addictive is actually a reflection at the cultural level of the addiction of its individuals. Once such a thing has gotten started, of course new addicts will gladly accept what is at this point essentially a fine-tuned excuse to use.
So of course stoner culture doesn't believe in Cannabis addiction. Stoner culture in many ways is just a reflection of cannabis addiction, and the denialism that comes with any addiction.
One final reason people give is that Cannabis addiction is not as bad as addiction to harder drugs and so it's somehow inaccurate or even insulting to addicts of harder drugs to suggest Cannabis is also addictive. This argument can be dealt with pretty swiftly. There is a spectrum of addictive potential and cannabis is simply less addictive and addiction to it is less harmful than addiction to harder drugs. There is no need to imply some sort of equality.
So that's that! We should be open minded about the evidence of potential harms of Cannabis, including research into addiction. It's not going to curtail the legalization movement. Presenting ourselves as wanting policy to be based on actual data can only help us. This will involve accepting that Cannabis has some harms however.
This means there is a fundamental incompatibility between harm reductionists and stoner glorifiers.