My argument on cannabis legalization
There is such a stigma on Marijuana and to be quite frank it’s getting ridiculous. America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. It was a law “ordering” all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. There were several other “must grow” laws over the next 200 years (you could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender (you could even pay your taxes with hemp — try that today!) Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes (including essential war requirements – rope, etc.) that the government went out of its way to encourage growth. In the early 1900s, the western states developed significant tensions regarding the influx of Mexican-Americans. The revolution in Mexico in 1910 spilled over the border, with General Pershing’s army clashing with bandit Pancho Villa. Later in that decade, bad feelings developed between the small farmer and the large farms that used cheaper Mexican labor. Then, the depression came and increased tensions, as jobs and welfare resources became scarce. One of the “differences” seized upon during this time was the fact that many Mexicans smoked marijuana and had brought the plant with them, and it was through this that California apparently passed the first state marijuana law, outlawing “preparations of hemp, or loco weed.” Other states quickly followed suit with marijuana prohibition laws, including Wyoming (1915), Texas (1919), Iowa (1923), Nevada (1923), Oregon (1923), Washington (1923), Arkansas (1923), and Nebraska (1927). These laws tended to be specifically targeted against the Mexican-American population. When Montana outlawed marijuana in 1927, the Butte Montana Standard reported a legislator’s comment: “When some beet field peon takes a few traces of this stuff… he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico, so he starts out to execute all his political enemies.” In Texas, a senator said on the floor of the Senate: “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.” Two other fear-tactic rumors started to spread: one, that Mexicans, Blacks and other foreigners were snaring white children with marijuana; and two, the story of the “assassins.” Early stories of Marco Polo had told of “hasheesh-eaters” or hashashin, from which derived the term “assassin.” In the original stories, these professional killers were given large doses of hashish and brought to the ruler’s garden (to give them a glimpse of the paradise that awaited them upon successful completion of their mission). Then, after the effects of the drug disappeared, the assassin would fulfill his ruler’s wishes with cool, calculating loyalty. By the 1930s, the story had changed. Dr. A. E. Fossier wrote in the 1931 New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal: “Under the influence of hashish those fanatics would madly rush at their enemies, and ruthlessly massacre every one within their grasp.” Within a very short time, marijuana started being linked to violent behavior. The United States underwent an alcohol prohibition from 1919-1933 in which all laws had been extremely visible and debatable on all levels. National Alcohol prohibition happened through a constitutional amendment while Marijuanna passed unknown to the public. At that time in our country’s history, the judiciary regularly placed the tenth amendment in the path of congressional regulation of “local” affairs, and direct regulation of medical practice was considered beyond congressional power under the commerce clause (since then, both provisions have been weakened so far as to have almost no meaning). In 1930, a new division in the Treasury Department was established — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana. In which he went on in misleading an entire nation about the true properties of such a plant. Anslinger immediately drew upon the themes of racism and violence to draw national attention to the problem he wanted to create. He also promoted and frequently read from “Gore Files” — wild reefer-madness-style exploitation tales of ax murderers on marijuana and sex and… Negroes. Here are some quotes that have been widely attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
And he loved to pull out his own version of the “assassin” definition:
“In the year 1090, there was founded in Persia the religious and military order of the Assassins, whose history is one of cruelty, barbarian, and murder, and for good reason: the members were confirmed users of hashish, or marihuana, and it is from the Arabs’ ‘hashashin’ that we have the English word ‘assassin.‘”Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, so he hated Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans (and the devil marijuana weed causing violence) sold newspapers, making him rich. Hearst and Anslinger were then supported by Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies. This all set the stage for the Marijuana act of 1937.
Now you know a little about the past. Now let’s look at what these false accusations and rumors have turned into.
For decades, cannabis opponents controlled the messaging around the popular plant and cultivated any number of lies about its effects. This built up a powerful stigma against marijuana, the effects of which have not worn off. The racist, expensive and failed U.S. war on drugs continues to rage on. The criminalization of cannabis users and distributors remains a top priority in that war. The government stubbornly classifies it as a dangerous Schedule I substance with no medical value, despite stacks of evidence to the contrary. While many acknowledge the truth about cannabis—that it is healthier than alcohol and more effective than pharmaceutical drugs in treating a number of illnesses—and more than half of all Americans want it legalized, marijuana myths are still repeated in some mainstream circles. Legalization opponents, determined to ignore the evidence, are grasping to justify their outdated position. But the evidence is in, and the arguments against legalization simply don’t hold up. As more people feel comfortable discussing the actual facts about marijuana, the falsehoods that dominated much of the 20th century are dissipating from the zeitgeist. Here are a dozen marijuana myths that persist to some degree today, and the facts that debunk them.
Myth #1: Stoned driving is as bad as drunk driving.
Drunk driving kills 28 people a day in America, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Studies have not found similar results for driving while high, and it’s not even clear that marijuana even increases the number of traffic accidents. That’s not to say that marijuana doesn’t affect driving ability—for many people it does. However, marijuana use is as likely as anything to make people more cautious than usual, which is an asset while driving. This same cautiousness makes some high people opt not to drive at all. Furthermore, as Sanjay Gupta explains in his documentary Weed, daily pot smokers seem to be less impaired on the road after smoking than occasional users.
Myth #2: Legalization wouldn’t hurt the drug cartels.
The most obvious and direct way that legalizing marijuana in the United States would save lives is through weakening drug cartels. While the United States is mostly insulated from the horrors of Sinaloa, Los Zetas and the other powerful and violent cartels, they are a scourge on Mexico and much of Central and South America. The cartels don’t just trade in marijuana, they are essentially armed gangs that will make money in any way they can, including extortion, human trafficking, and selling other drugs and contraband. But estimates put marijuana at 30-50% of cartel revenue. Were legal sellers in the United States to effectively steal their largest market, the cartels would continue to exist, but they would be able to fund fewer soldiers and bribe fewer politicians. The bloodshed they visit on each other and on countless civilians would be similarly reduced.
Myth #3: Marijuana causes brain damage.
This one resurfaced lately, based largely on one recent study in France. The study looked at the brains of 20 heavy cannabis users and compared them to 20 non-smokers (all participants were 18-25). Their brains showed differences in areas related to cognitive and emotional processing. The media ran with those results, claiming that marijuana reorganizes your brain. As the study authors explain, their results do not show this. Rather, they show a correlation, with no clear indication whether cannabis changes brain structure or if people with certain brain structures are more likely to enjoy marijuana. It should also be noted that the sample size of the study is very small, and that the study does not examine long-term effects of cannabis use. And, even if cannabis use does cause changes in the brain over time, there is no evidence to show whether those changes are positive or negative.
Myth #4: Pot is addictive.
A certain number pops up again and again in op-eds about the dangers of marijuana: 9%. That’s the number of cannabis users who become dependent, according to a study from the 1990s. This would still put marijuana dependence risk comfortably below alcohol (14%) and tobacco (24%) according to the same study. Additionally, the 9% figure was likely inflated because the study did not account for marijuana’s criminalization. Certain measures of dependence, such as whether someone had spent “a great deal of time” acquiring the substance, could be the result of criminalization, not addiction, but the study authors ignored this. Regardless of what percent of cannabis users can be considered dependent, it’s clear that heavy cannabis use is far less damaging than heavy use of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol.
Myth #5: You know what a pot smoker looks like.
From Scooby Doo’s best buddy Shaggy to Cheech and Chong to the legendary Dude of The Big Lebowski, pop culture has the stoner archetype firmly established. That image persists, despite countless examples of cannabis users that don’t fit the mold. It’s time we start baking in the likes of Justin Timberlake, George Clooney, Louis C.K., Bill Maher, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston, and Morgan Freeman. That’s just a brief sampling of celebrities who have talked about current usage. As for people who have admitted to trying it, or even having a prolonged pot “phase,” just google your favorite actor, musician, author or president and chances are they fit the bill. You’ll notice that most of them don’t look or act like Shaggy or the Dude.
Myth #6: Pot smokers lack motivation.
A popular refrain among weed opponents these days is something along the lines of, “everyone knows that marijuana makes you lazy, do we really want to encourage that?” Studies have not been able to separate out cannabis-induced laziness from general “amotivational syndrome.” About 5-6% of the population seems to have identifiable difficulties with motivation, but research has not successfully tied this to marijuana use. So yes, there are lazy potheads out there, but there are also lazy people and ambitious potheads. There is plenty of evidence, including thousands of years of human experience, to show that pot makes you creative, active and influential rather than lazy. Fifty examples are found on this list of the 50 most influential marijuana users.
Myth #7: Smoking pot is much worse for your lungs than smoking cigarettes.
This is another reason people like to rattle off when discussing the grave dangers of marijuana. Some argue that because weed is generally smoked without a filter, the lungs are not protected. Whatever the rationale behind this claim, it doesn’t appear to be true. A 2012 study on marijuana’s effects on the lungs came up with this conclusion: “Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.” That’s not to say smoking marijuana has no adverse effects. The crucial difference may be one of quantity. All but the heaviest pot smokers don’t average more than a couple of joints or bowls a day, whereas pack-a-day cigarette smokers are not particularly uncommon. Whatever the reason, cannabis users seem to end up with healthier lungs than cigarette smokers. On top of all of that, there are plenty of ways to ingest cannabis without any smoke. You can eat it, drink it, inhale it as a vapor, take it in tablet form, or rub it on your skin as a lotion or oil (this last one won’t give you that euphoric “high” feeling, however).
Myth #8: Marijuana turns teenagers into troublemakers.
This myth combines some science regarding early drug use with the remnants of the Reefer Madness anti-weed propaganda of the past. It is the idea that good kids can turn bad under the influence of cannabis. This silliness doesn’t hold up whatsoever under scrutiny. A 1980 study of 10,000 high school juniors and seniors found that marijuana use is one out of a host of unconventional behaviors, which correlate with each other. In other words, some adolescents are more rebellious—some would say independent —than others, and these kids are more likely to smoke pot (and drink). But pot doesn’t turn anyone into a delinquent.
Myth #9: Cannabis use leads to crime.
This one is easily debunked, but the desire of some people and groups to demonize marijuana has kept this idea around longer than it deserves. It is easy enough to find statistics that seem to tie marijuana use with crime, but these rely on a roundabout spin of an analysis. Essentially, the association with cannabis and crime comes from the fact that cannabis itself is illegal. A Norwegian study found that the laws, not the drug, were to blame:
“The study suggests that cannabis use in adolescence and early adulthood may be associated with subsequent involvement in criminal activity. However, the bulk of this involvement seems to be related to various types of drug-specific crime. Thus the association seems to rest on the fact that use, possession and distribution of drugs such as cannabis is illegal. The study strengthens concerns about the laws related to the use, possession and distribution of cannabis.”
Other research backs up this basic conclusion. A borough in London depenalized pot for a year, and a subsequent study found that crime rates dropped during this period. Really, this shouldn’t seem too profound. Stoned people are more likely to stay home and watch a movie than suddenly decide to rob a store. As with alcohol in the first half of the 20th century, it is prohibition itself that leads to crime, not the sustance that is prohibited.
Myth #10: Marijuana leads to harder drugs.
The gateway effect, as it is popularly known, is still a favorite counterpoint to the notion that cannabis itself isn’t so bad. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker cited the gateway effect in an interview in February noting that “[Wisconsin sheriffs] said when they talked about heroin and meth and other issues that they were still very concerned that [marijuana] was a gateway drug.” Indeed, almost everyone who tries those hard, often disastrous drugs did marijuana first. They also probably got drunk at least a few times in their lives before trying heroin, yet no one calls alcohol a gateway drug. What’s actually going on is that some people are generally more interested in mind-altering drugs, and marijuana is the most popular and available illegal drug. If marijuana caused harder drug use, we would not see results such as those in a recent survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Instead the study found that marijuana use had increased in recent years among adolescents, but heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine use has all dropped.
Myth #11: The jury is still out on marijuana’s medicinal effects.
One would think that around half the states in the U.S. having some sort of medical marijuana law would have quieted this one, but some opponents still take solace in the federal government’s continuing refusal to acknowledge any medicinal use of cannabis. The reality is that cannabis is something of a wonder drug. The majority of American medical doctors think marijuana should be legal according to WebMD survey reported in April—and with good reason. It alleviatessymptoms related to chemotherapy, AIDS, certain cancers and especially glaucoma. Marijuana’s ability to help people with certain debilitating seizure disorders inspired a number of mostly conservative states to adopt (highly restrictive) medical cannabis laws. Cannabis is effective medicine for millions of people, and legalizing it would provide more of them access to it.
Myth #12: Opposition to cannabis legalization is driven entirely by cautious prudence.
The opposition to marijuana legalization has come from many earnest and concerned people, but it is also fueled by industries that figure to lose profits should cannabis become legal and widely available. Alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals (see Myth #11) and cotton (which would have to compete with hemp) are all billion-dollar industries. It is less expensive for them to pay into politicians’ campaign funds than for them to face a strong competitor.
One by one, these myths are falling away. The faster they do, the sooner we will be able to enjoy cannabis laws and regulations based on common sense, peer-reviewed evidence and public health. With momentum toward legalization as great as it has ever been since cannabis was criminalized in the 1930s, vanquishing these myths could finally end one of the United States’ most senseless and harmful policies.
We already know the fashion and form in which our government works, as long as there is money flowing into the system then everything is fine. But this particular culture they are trying to suppress is becoming more and more difficult for our country to suppress. It is a story of betrayal and greed at its finest. There are more and more people realizing the good that this plant can do. People see kids smoking weed to get high and fail to realize what they really are doing is medicating.
If the federal government will not announce the medical properties of marijuana why do they have a patent on it for just that?
DEA Owns Marijuana Patent #6630507
The patent begins:
“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NDMA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants…”
Millions of Americans have been caged for marijuana while their torturers hold a patent for the illegal plant. Most justifiably agree the hypocrisy is darkly hysterical.
Let’s talk about hemp, hemp in itself.
Let’s get one thing straight: hemp is not marijuana. Marijuana is not hemp. They each have their own separate uses and benefits.
One of the first differences of how you should distinguish between hemp and marijuana is the fact that marijuana is used for recreational or medicinal purposes for psychoactive (“high”) or non-psychoactive effects and benefits depending on the cannabinoid content. However, with hemp, you can’t get “high” from it at all. Instead, hemp has been known for its industrial and environmental uses and benefits throughout history. Why hemp and marijuana typically get mixed up is because they both are from the same plant species, cannabis sativa L. Although both hemp and marijuana have male and female sexes, the female plant gender is the one that mainly distinguishes hemp from marijuana. In the marijuana plant, the female plants produce the buds and flowers for users to consume in order to gain psychoactive or non-psychoactive effects. With hemp on the other hand, the female plants bare the seeds and have strong fibers, which is what hemp is mainly used for. For this reason, hemp is used mostly for industrial and commercial purposes, and you are unable to obtain a “high” at all. To put it in perspective, marijuana can have anywhere from 5% to over 20% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, while hemp only has .3% – 1.5% of THC.
If you are unaware, hemp is one of the strongest, most durable, natural soft-fibers on this planet. Because of this, hemp has a wide variety of uses. Hemp can be used for paper, fuel, oils, medicine, clothing, housing, plastic, rope, and even food. In fact, many of these uses of hemp have been practiced throughout our history for over thousands of years. Because the history of cannabis is an extremely lengthy one, it is not necessary to list every piece of hemp’s usage throughout our history.
Hemp is an incredibly sustainable renewable resource that can be grown in many climates and conditions around the world. With that being said, there are many environmental benefits by using this sustainable plant. For one, the use of hemp to create a better quality and longer-lasting paper is extremely environmentally friendly. It would only take one acre of hemp compared to destroying 4.1 acres of trees to create the same amount of paper. This would help deforestation exponentially.E
One acre of hemp is not only a beneficial alternative for paper, but also for the production of cotton as well. Just one acre of hemp could produce as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton. The difference is that hemp fiber lasts longer, will not mildew, and is much stronger and softer than cotton. In addition, cotton requires large quantities of dangerous pesticides and herbicides. What about hemp? Hemp doesn’t require anypesticides or herbicides, and only needs moderate amounts of fertilizer.However, these are not the only aspects as to why hemp is an incredibly environmentally beneficial crop. There are plenty of others. For another example, hemp can be used as an alternative clean burning fuel and lessen our reliance on vital fossil fuels. One acre of hemp can yield nearly 1,000 gallons of methanol in a single growing season. When hemp is burned as a fuel, carbon dioxide (CO2) releases into the air, but it is the same CO2 that was taken in from the environment, which is known as a closed carbon cycle and is extremely efficient. These environmental benefits to using hemp, in addition to its usage, puts into question why hemp still has not been produced as a major crop as it once was in the U.S.