Have you ever been in a social gathering when the word ‘marijuana’ was mentioned?
Chances are that there were a flurry of mixed reactions. And there always seems to be that one person who’s opinion is shouted above all the others.
A lot of inaccurate information has been circulated since the 30’s. And most of it seems to persist.
One of the more effective ways of educating the public is to keep correcting the errors that pop up – in a sane and rational manner. Over and over.
To assist you in this endeavor here are 5 common misconception about marijuana and the current truth of the matter – as science sees it.
1. The Use of Marijuana Will Skyrocket if it’s Not Prohibited
The concern seems to be that if marijuana were legal it would result in many of the same problems associated with alcohol and tobacco. The most logical argument is that prohibition of alcohol didn’t work. It did not stop people from using alcohol. Period.
If one were to compare the activities that took place in the Prohibition Era with what now goes on between the drug cartels and the Federal Government, one finds many significant correlations.
- violent confrontations between those who restrict it and those who traffic in it
- death of innocent bystanders
- enforcement expenditures exceeding expenditures for public education and health
- overcrowding of incarceration facilities – with resultant evils
Statics can be bent and maneuvered easier than silly putty. On both sides of the argument, the words ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ and ‘points to’ are heard again and again.
The truth of the matter is that we do not know if the legalization of marijuana will increase its use.
What seems apparent is that the majority of adults in the US favor the decriminalization of marijuana. Let the issue be decided on the local level. Those who are in favor of legal weed live here. Those who don’t, live over there.
2. Marijuana is illegal because it’s dangerous
Marijuana may be dangerous. Again, there are studies that support either opinion.
What we do know it that life is dangerous. It almost always ends in death.
Society as a whole now supports activities that science says will dramatically alter our environment – most likely for the worse. And humans voluntarily continue to engage in behavior that causes climate change.
There needs to be priorities here.
- 1 in 4 people in the US are obese. And the danger is well documented
- cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death – and prevention is still counter culture stuff
- Big Business and special interest groups are permitted to lobby and influence our elected representatives
Our lawmaker’s time would be better spent ensuring that the planet will be inhabitable for the next generation. If it’s not, what does it matter that marijuana might be dangerous?
3.Marijuana use leads to crime
Pretty much a no brainer. If marijuana is illegal then anything associated with it would be considered a crime. Prohibition results in crime, no that which is prohibited.
And, there are some interesting figures to consider;
- in 2010 the war on drugs cost the US government $500 per second
- over 1.5 million arrests in 2012 were for drug ‘abuse’ violations
- it costs about $30,000 per year to house and feed one prisoner.
Isn’t it evident that an educational reform is needed?
4. Marijuana has no medicinal value
Since 1968 the US government has been growing marijuana to distribute to reputable research facilities. And some interesting findings have been coming forth.
- since the 70’s it’s been known that smoking marijuana lowers intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma
- a study published in the JAMA stated that smoking marijuana does not impair lung function and can improve lung capacity
- findings published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics showed that marijuana use can prevent epileptic seizures
And there’s more.
A chemical found in marijuana may prevent cancer from spreading. Remember that statistic above about cancer being the number one killer in the US?
Since 1998 states have been legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. With certain limitations. As of this writing 21 States and the District of Columbia do so. Only 3 have waived a fee to be eligible. The maximum charged is $200.
So, if entities as prestigious as the AMA are saying that marijuana has medicinal properties – what’s the hold up??
5. Marijuana is addictive
First of all, what those who ‘know’ are saying.
- marijuana users may experience a craving to continue its use
- no physical withdrawal symptoms are experienced by the majority of users
- there are as many ways to define addiction as there are people who define it
Experience states that, with compelling reason, it is possible to alter any habit. The only limiting factor is desire.
Among substances that are legal (that is, regulated and taxed) some are notoriously addictive. To wit;
- opioids (yes, they’re legal with a prescription)
- benzodiazepines (again, legal with a prescription)
- drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- ambien – a sleep aid
- codeine cough syrup
- anabolic steroids
Experts say that addiction is a stress response. Once an addictive substance is used to lower feelings of stress, chemicals are released in the brain that begin to associate the use of the substance with pleasure and reward. Repeated use strengths the association and a vicious cycle begins.
Far better to educate people how to deal constructively with stress. Without drugs.
In the early 30’s an anti marijuana campaign was started that has lasted to this day. It has been one of the more brilliant advertising endeavours ever undertaken.
Almost everyone has an opinion. And most of them are based upon hearsay.
That’s what we need now. A newer, more relevant line of advertising. A campaign to educate everyone, regardless of class or race or economic status. To teach people that each of us has a unique talent that must be developed and shared with the world.
Once personnel managers cease trying to pigeonhole people into slots where they don’t ‘fit’ we might be surprised how few drugs we need to relieve stress. Or be happy.
Maybe then we could replace tobacco fields with fields of hemp. Make environmentally friendly fabric out of the fiber – and catch an occasional buzz.