Twenty states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and two states (Colorado and Washington) now permit recreational use. Medical marijuana is largely opposed due to misinformation and the fact that it spells competition for the pharmaceutical industry, as the cannabis plant could replace a wide variety of synthetic drugs, especially for treating mood and anxiety disorders. The cannabis plant contains a variety of compounds with medicinal properties, including terpenes and flavonoids. Probably the most noteworthy is CBD (cannabidiol), which is associated with an array of health benefits. Different strains of cannabis have different ratios of CBD to THC.
There are strains of cannabis that contain high amounts of CBD, while being very low in THC, which is the psychoactive agent in marijuana. Such strains are the ones typically used for medical purposes, and will not produce a high. Just as with most medicinal plants, it is important to use the whole plant rather than isolated compounds, in order to take advantage of its natural synergistic actions. For more information about this, refer to the Project CBD website.21 If you do have cannabis in your home, please make sure to keep it away from your pets, as it is highly toxic to cats and dogs. When used appropriately, medical-grade cannabis offers a great range of benefits, including but not limited to the following:
Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic: Cannabis suppresses inflammation,22 in addition to reducing pain for chronic pain sufferers
Anticonvulsive: Cannabis is showing great promise for treating epilepsy (especially in children) by raising the seizure threshold23
Anticancer: Binds to receptors on cancer cells, causing them to die off and inhibiting their spread. Harvard researchers found THC retards lung cancer growth, which helps explain why smoking marijuana doesn't cause lung cancer24
Neuroprotective: CBD protects those with brain injury from nerve damage, and may help prevent Alzheimer's25
Treatment of Tourette Syndrome: Shown effective in reducing tics and behavioral symptoms, including obsessive compulsive behaviors26
Rusty, pot is now quasi-legal in Kommiefornia. It is a complete joke with this legalization. Next to every "herb" supply house is a business surrounded by a bunch of long haired hippies, trying to push you inside saying, "the doctor is in...come and get your pot card!" It is similar to the strip clubs we have in Tijuana, Mexico.
I have a friend here who is a Sheriff's Deputy. He is all for legalization. He says he's never had any real problems with anyone using pot. He's had a lot of drunks and other drug users who want to fight. A drunk tried to kill him with a knife last year.
My next door neighbor's kid was stoned out of his gored last year and was arrested for drunk driving. He came over swearing and yelling that he wasn't drunk driving, only stoned. Boy, did he had a rude awakening when he went to court.
"Recreational drugs have never been legal."
Opium, a very addictive drug (but relatively harmless by today's standards) was once widely used by the Chinese. The reasons for this are a whole other story, but suffice to say that when Chinese started to immigrate to the United States, they brought opium with them. Chinese workers used opium to induce a trance-like state, which helped make boring, repetitive tasks more interesting. It also numbs the mind to pain and exhaustion. By using opium, the Chinese were able to pull very long hours in the sweatshops of the Industrial Revolution. During this period of time, there was no such thing as fair wages, and the only way a worker could make a living was to produce as much as humanly possible.
Since they were such good workers, the Chinese held a lot of jobs in the highly competitive industrial work place. Even before the Great Depression, when millions of jobs disappeared overnight, the White Americans began to resent this, and Chinese became hated among the White working class. Even more than today, White Americans had a very big political advantage over the Chinese -- they spoke English and had a few relatives in the government, so it was easy for them to come up with a plan to force Chinese immigrants to leave the country (or at least keep them from inviting all their relatives to come and live in America.) This plan depended on stirring up racist feelings, and one of the easiest things to focus these feelings on was the foreign and mysterious practice of using opium.
We can see this pattern again with cocaine, except with cocaine it was Black Americans who were the target. Cocaine probably was not especially useful in the work place, but the strategy against Chinese immigrants (picking on their drug of choice) had been so successful that it was used again. In the case of Blacks, though, the racist feelings ran deeper, and the main thrust of the propaganda campaign was to control the Black community and keep Blacks from becoming successful. Articles appeared in newspapers, which blamed cocaine for violent crime by Blacks. Black Americans were painted as savage, uncontrollable beasts when under the influence of cocaine -- it was said to make a single Black man as strong as four or five police officers. (Sound familiar?) By capitalizing on racist sentiments, a powerful political lobby banned opium and then cocaine.
Marijuana was next. It was well known that the Mexican soldiers who fought America during the war with Spain smoked marijuana. Poncho Villa, A Mexican general, was considered a nemesis for the behavior of his troops, who were known to be especially rowdy. They were also known to be heavy marijuana smokers, as the original lyrics to the song 'la cucaracha' show. (The song was originally about a Mexican soldier who refused to march until he was provided with some marijuana.)
After the war had ended and Mexicans had begun to immigrate into the South Eastern United States, there were relatively few race problems. There were plenty of jobs in agriculture and industry and Mexicans were willing to work cheap. Once the depression hit and jobs became scarce, however, Mexicans suddenly became a public nuisance. It was said by politicians (who were trying to please the White working class) that Mexicans were responsible for a violent crime wave. Police statistics showed nothing of the sort -- in fact Mexicans were involved in less crime than Whites. Marijuana, of course, got the blame for this phony outbreak of crime and health problems, and so many of these states made laws against using cannabis. (In the Northern states, marijuana was also associated with Black jazz musicians.)
Here is where things start to get complicated. Put aside, for a moment, all the above, because there are a few other things involved in this twisted tale. At the beginning of the Great Depression, there was a very popular movement called Prohibition, which made alcohol illegal. This was motivated mainly by a Puritan religious ethic left over from the first European settlers. Today we have movies and television shows such as the "Untouchables" which tell us what it was like to live during this period. Since it is perhaps the world's most popular drug, alcohol prohibition spawned a huge 'black market' where illegal alcohol was smuggled and traded at extremely high prices. Crime got out-of-hand as criminals fought with each other over who could sell alcohol where. Organized crime became an American institution, and hard liquor, which was easy to smuggle, took the place of beer and wine.
In order to combat the crime wave, a large police force was formed. The number of police grew rapidly until the end of Prohibition when the government decided that the best way to deal with the situation was to just give up and allow people to use alcohol legally. Under Prohibition the American government had essentially (and unwittingly) provided the military back-up for the take-over of the alcohol business by armed thugs. Even today, the Mob still controls liquor sales in many areas. After Prohibition the United States was left with nothing to show but a decade of political turmoil -- and a lot of unemployed police officers.
During Prohibition, being a police officer was a very nice thing -- you got a relatively decent salary, respect, partial immunity to the law, and the opportunity to take bribes (if you were that sort of person.) Many of these officers were not about to let this life-style slip away. Incidentally, it was about this time when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was reformed, and a man named Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as its head. (Anslinger was appointed by his uncle-in-law, Andrew Mellon, who was the Secretary of the United States Treasury.) Anslinger campaigned tirelessly for funding in order to hire a large force of narcotics officers. After retiring, Anslinger once mused that the FBNDD was a place where young men were given a license to steal and rape.
The FBNDD is the organization which preceded what we now call the DEA, and was responsible for enforcing the new Federal drug laws against heroin, opium, and cocaine. One of Anslinger's biggest concerns as head of the FBNDD was getting uniform drug laws passed in all States and the Federal legislature. (Anslinger also had a personal dislike of jazz music and the Black musicians who made it. He hated them so much that he spent years tracking each of them and dreamed of arresting them all in one huge, cross-country sweep.) Anslinger frequented parent's and teacher's meetings giving scary speeches about the dangers of marijuana, and this period of time became known as Reefer Madness. (The name comes from the title of a silly movie produced by a public health group.)
To make a long story short, during the first decades of this century, opium was made illegal to kick out the Chinese immigrants who had flooded the work-force. Cocaine was made illegal to repress and control the Black community. And, marijuana was made illegal in order to control Mexicans in the Southeast (and Blacks.) All these laws were based mainly on emotional racism, without much else to back them up -- you can easily tell this by reading the hearings held in state legislatures. Also at this time, the end of Prohibition left us with a large force of unemployed police officers, who looked for work enforcing the new drug laws. Consequently, these same police officers needed to convince the country that their jobs were important. They did so by scaring parents about the dangers of drugs. All this set the stage for a law passed in the Federal legislature which put a prohibitive tax on marijuana. This is what killed the hemp industry in 1937, since it made business in hemp impossible.
Before the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, the state of Kentucky was the center of a relatively large American hemp industry which produced cloth and tow (rope for use in shipping.) The industry would have been larger, but hemp had one major disadvantage: processing it required a lot of work. Men had to 'brake' hemp stalks in order to separate the fiber from the woody core. This was done on a small machine called a hand-brake, and it was a job fit for Hercules. It was not until the 1930's that machines to do this became widely available.
Today we use paper made by a process called 'chemical pulping'. Before this, trees were processed by 'mechanical pulping' instead, which was much more expensive. At about the same time as machines to brake hemp appeared, the idea of using hemp hurds for making paper and plastic was proposed. Hemp hurds were normally considered to be a worthless waste product that was thrown away after it was stripped of fiber. New research showed that these hurds could be used instead of wood in mechanical pulping, and that this would drastically reduce the cost of making paper. Popular Mechanics Magazine predicted that hemp would rise to become the number one crop in America. In fact, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was so unexpected that Popular Mechanics had already gone to press with a cover story about hemp, published in 1938 just two months after the Tax Act took effect.
There's more. 'Chemical pulping' paper was invented at about this time by Dupont Chemicals, as part of a multi-million dollar deal with a timber holding company and newspaper chain owned by William Randolph Hearst. This deal would provide the Hearst with a source of very cheap paper, and he would go on to be known as the tycoon of 'yellow journalism' (so named because the new paper would turn yellow very quickly as it got older.) Hearst knew that he could drive other papers out of competition with this new advantage. Hemp paper threatened to ruin this whole plan. It had to be stopped, and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was the way they did it. As a drug law, the Tax Act really was not a very big step -- it did not really accomplish much at all and many historians have caught themselves wondering why the bill was even written. Big business interests took advantage of the political climate of racism and anti-drug rhetoric to close the free market to hemp products, and _that_, my friend, is how hemp became illegal.
For the 1930's, this business venture was one very large transaction; it included other timber companies and a few railroads. Dupont's entire deal was backed by a banker named Andrew Mellon. Don't look up! That's the same Andrew Mellon who appointed his nephew-in-law Harry Anslinger to head up the FBNDD in 1931. The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in a very unorthodox way, and nobody who would have objected was informed about the bill. The American Medical Association found out about the bill only two days before the hearings, and sent a representative to object to the banning of cannabis medicines. A hemp bird seed salesman also showed up and complained. However, the bill was passed, partially due to the testimony of Harry J. Anslinger.
Not that Americans would have protested against this bill, even if they had known it existed most Americans did not know that cannabis hemp and marijuana is the same thing. The separate word 'marijuana' was one of the reasons for this. Nobody would associate the evil weed from Mexico with the stuff they tied their shoes with. Also, this was the time when synthetic fabrics were the latest fad -- nobody was interested in natural fibers any more. To top this all off the word 'hemp' was often wrongly used to refer to other natural fabrics, specifically jute.
The ignorance of hemp continues today, but it is even more scary. During the 1970's (Reefer Madness II) all mention of the word 'hemp' was removed from high school text books here in the United States. So much for free speech! When Jack Herer, the world's most beloved hemp activist, asked a curator at the Smithsonian Museum why this word had been removed from all their exhibits, the answer he got was astounding: "Children do not need to know about hemp anymore. It confuses them." Jack Herer went on to uncover a film made by the United States government, a film which the government did not want to admit existed. The film "Hemp For Victory" details how the United States government bypassed the Tax Act during World War II, when they needed hemp for the War Effort, and ran a large hemp-growing project in Kentucky and California.
"I don't think you can convince me that drug use will not climb if legalized."
"Isn't marijuana a gateway drug? Doesn't it lead to use of harder drugs?"
This is totally untrue. In fact, researchers are looking into using marijuana to help crack addicts to quit. There are 40 million people in this country (U.S.) who have smoked marijuana for a period of their lives -- why aren't there tens of millions of heroin users, then? In Amsterdam, both marijuana use and heroin use went *down* after marijuana was decriminalized -- even though there was a short rise in cannabis use right after decriminalization. Unlike addictive drugs, marijuana causes almost no tolerance. Some people even report a reverse tolerance. That is, the longer they have used the less marijuana they need to get 'high.' So users of marijuana do not usually get bored and 'look for something more powerful'. If anything, marijuana keeps people from doing harder drugs.
The idea that using marijuana will lead you to use heroin or speed is called the 'gateway theory' or the 'stepping stone hypothesis.' It has been a favorite trick of the anti-drug propaganda artists, because it casts marijuana as something insidious with hidden dangers and pitfalls. There have never been any real statistics to back this idea up, but somehow it was the single biggest thing which the newspapers yelled about during Reefer Madness II. (Perhaps this was because the CIA was looking for someone to blame for the increase in heroin use after Viet Nam.)
The gateway theory of drug use is no longer generally accepted by the medical community. Prohibitionists used to point at numbers which showed that a large percentage of the hard drug users 'started with marijuana.' They had it backwards -- many hard drug users also use marijuana. There are two reasons for this. One is that marijuana can be used to 'take the edge off' the effects of some hard drugs. The other is a recently discovered fact of adolescent psychology -- there is a personality type which uses drugs, basically because drugs are exciting and dangerous, a thrill.
On sociological grounds, another sort of gateway theory has been argued which claims that marijuana is the source of the drug subculture and leads to other drugs through that culture. By the same token this is untrue -- marijuana does not create the drug subculture, the drug subculture uses marijuana. There are many marijuana users who are not a part of the subculture.
This brings up another example of how marijuana legalization could actually reduce the use of illicit drugs. Even though there is no magical 'stepping stone' effect, people who choose to buy marijuana often buy from dealers who deal in many different illegal drugs. This means that they have access to illegal drugs, and might decide to try them out. In this case it is the laws which lead to hard drug use. If marijuana were legal, the drug markets would be separated, and less people would start using the illegal drugs. Maybe this is why emergency room admissions for hard drugs have gone down in the states that decriminalized marijuana during the 70's.
" I don't want children (minors) to be able to smoke marijuana. How can I stop this?"
Legalize it. They can smoke it now; it is about as easy to get as alcohol. There would be less marijuana being sold in schools, playgrounds, and street corners, though, if it was sold legally through pharmacies -- because the dealers would not be able to compete with the prices. If you are a parent, the choice is really up to you: Do you want your children to sneak off with their friends and use marijuana which they bought off the street, or do you want to talk to them calmly and explain to them why they should wait until they are older? Your children are not going to walk up to you and tell you that they use an illegal drug, but if it was not such a big deal they might give you a chance to explain your feelings. Besides, would you rather children use speed, cocaine, and alcohol?
Consider, also, that children have a natural urge to do things that they aren't supposed to. It is called curiosity. By making such a fuss over marijuana, you make it interesting (some call it the 'forbidden fruit' factor.) This is made worse when children are lied to about drugs by teachers and police -- they lose respect for the school and the government. In a lot of ways, it is the hysteria about drugs which causes the most harm. When marijuana users do none of the horrible things they are supposed to, children may think that other more harmful drugs are OK, too. Your children will not respect you unless you are calm and give good reasons for your rules. The first step is for you, the parent, to learn the facts about drugs.