Vaping has exploded on the scene over the last few years. The e-cigarette craze is supposed to replace the stigma of the old tobacco product. Trendy people vape with an array of gadgets. It is all the rage.
However, last August, a government study reported that vaping was causing major lung and other illnesses. It has now been confirmed that the practice is responsible for the deaths of 55 young people and adults.
Upon receiving the news, the media entered into a frenzy, blaming the powerful e-cigarette lobby for the aggressive promotion of their products to youth. They blame fruity-flavored products that turn young people into victims of addiction.
The Empty Bandwagon
At the time of the report, vaping had all the potential of being the next great bandwagon to attack corporate interests and call for aggressive government measures and spending. Some actions were taken as Congress voted to raise the age for all e-cigarette tobacco products to 21. There are also plans to restrict most flavors found in the one-time-use pods used in e-cigarettes.
However, the intensity of the initial reaction has cooled significantly. The bandwagon quickly emptied when it was revealed that most of the injuries and deaths were due to THC, not nicotine. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana and its vaping is clogging lungs and scrambling minds. Most incidents involve black market marijuana oils being added to vaping apparatuses, not fruit flavors.
However, most media are now in denial. THC, cannabis and marijuana are three names for the same sacred cow that cannot be touched in society today. People can condemn cigarettes but not the smoking of marijuana. It is an idol that cannot be overturned.
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Despite a mountain of evidence linking cannabis to psychosis, it is considered “settled science” that there is no established link. Scholars know that denouncing the charade by creating a link is a quick way to end a career. Tragically, not even deaths and increased suicide rates can move people to admit that something is wrong with the conclusion.
Many will continue to blame fruity e-cigarettes marketed to youth. They will not denounce the real THC culprit, for it gives them their next high. They will live in marijuana denial to the end.
A Philosophy of Life
The vaping crisis cannot be reduced to a medical issue or a marketing scheme. It is something much more profound. Marijuana denial comes from a refusal to embrace reality. The reason why people defend marijuana literally “to the death” is that it involves a spiritual problem that they dare not explore.
The problem is a philosophy of life that claims that the main purpose of living is to enjoy life. The person becomes the center of an enclosed little universe dedicated to the pursuit of unrestrained happiness. Thus, happiness consists of maximizing pleasure and avoiding suffering at all costs. When this is not possible, then one must at least give the appearance of enjoying life.
However, this conception of life does not correspond to the reality of man’s fallen nature. It is part of the human condition to suffer hardships, sicknesses and eventual death. No one escapes it.
This Strange Religion of Self
A major crisis develops when many think they can escape misfortune. When it knocks on their door, they seek escapes to feed the delusion that they are happy. Thus, marijuana takes an almost sacramental character in this strange religion of self.
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When life’s pressures seem overwhelming, the THC fix provides a temporary escape. Cannabis soon becomes indispensable—even “medicinal.” It matters not the form taken—whether smoked, eaten or vaped. It must be had at all costs to lessen the pain. Above all, it must help create the illusion of happiness for all around them.
Thus, marijuana becomes part of a culture of delusion and failed happiness. Many, not all, will take imbibing to its final consequences. Even though they know the risks, they will inhale to the point of addiction, self-harm and even suicide. They will continue the practice even when they know it hurts those around them.
“Solving” the Vaping Crisis
The key to “solving” the vaping crisis is not to limit marketing to youth, although such measures might prevent or postpone some addictions. It is not even to debate the merits or dangers of THC, which are very real.
The real solution lies in discarding a wrong philosophy of life that demands happiness at any cost. The Church has indicated the only real path to endure life’s hardships is the Way of the Cross.
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By embracing suffering, the person better overcomes obstacles and trials. One also has the satisfaction of duty done. A person who knows how to endure suffering also knows how to appreciate life’s moments of happiness fully.
By adopting this Christian perspective, all society benefits since life is based on objective reality, not the illusions of failed happiness.
Until such clarity of vision returns, society will be in marijuana denial. No amount of arguing and legislation will help turn the tide. People will vape and die, and no one will listen.