‘Stoned Rabbits’ Concern Raised By Utah DEA, But Is Marijuana Addictive?

We have all heard “won’t someone think of the children,” but thanks to Matt Fairbanks we now have, “Won’t someone think of the stoned rabbits?”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent testified before a Utah Senate panel about the negative consequences of legalizing marijuana. One of the more unusual concerns raised by Fairbanks had to do with rabbits. Matt said that rabbits could become addicted to pot. Even worse, the stoned rabbits would lose their fear of people, putting them at risk. Matt Fairbanks attempted to assure the Senate panel that his concerns about legalizing marijuana were based on “facts” and “science” rather than mere superstition.

The Washington Post reported that Fairbanks offered up an experience involving a rabbit that was allegedly exposed to a large amount of marijuana.

“One of [the rabbits] refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”

There’s a strong possibility that Fairbanks is correct about marijuana and behavior of wild rabbits. But it’s worth noting that the addictive nature of the substance continues to be a subject of heavy debate. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about nine percent of people who use marijuana become addicted.

“Over time, overstimulation of the endocannabinoid system by marijuana use can cause changes in the brain that lead to addiction, a condition in which a person cannot stop using a drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life. It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it.”

Even this information has not deterred efforts to legalize marijuana, as some argue that the medical benefits outweigh any possible harm. There is also the readily cited belief that unlike legal drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes, marijuana hasn’t killed anyone.

It’s also worth noting that the nature of addiction isn’t limited to drugs like marijuana. It’s possible to become addicted to food, sex, and even exercise. As the understanding of what makes someone prone to addiction changes, the image of marijuana as a “gateway drug to addiction” loses its power. As such, marijuana legislation marches forward — even in the ultra-conservative Utah.

Despite the warning by Matt Fairbanks about “stoned rabbits,” the Utah Senate panel approved a bill concerning medical marijuana. It is expected to be debated sometime this week before the full state Senate.

Do you think that Matt Fairbanks is right to warn that legalizing marijuana could lead to addicted rabbits? Do you think that marijuana addiction is a legitimate concern?

[Image Credit: Mallory Elizabeth Grogan]