Sunday, January 31, 2010

My thoughts...

I haven’t always felt the way I do about Cannabis. I would say that I was of the same mind set as most people you meet.

Throughout my adolescence, I had heard bits and pieces of both sides of the controversy. I had never really taken the time to actually pay much attention to it, as my beliefs were already set. I am of the DARE generation and school taught us that it was not okay to take drugs, all drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, especially if we were underage. We were taught that drugs cause long term physical harm, addiction, and will ruin your life.

At the same time, I learned through my observations of our society that it is acceptable to occasionally alter your state of mind. That it is acceptable to use alcohol and cigarettes, despite what they had told us in school. I saw constant advertisement for drugs, especially in the media. Movies showing people drinking and smoking. State-run liquor stores. Smoking sections. Bars and night clubs. As long as you don’t drive drunk, or drink all the time. Alcohol is okay. As long as you do it in certain areas, and not around kids, cigarettes are okay… even though both will kill you eventually. And through my own experimentations, I decided that Marijuana was a drug like that and I grouped it in the same category as Cigarettes and Alcohol. The Soft Drugs. Drugs that really shouldn’t be abused, except for when you are celebrating, depressed, stressed out, or when you just want to have a good time… etc. And it is acceptable once you grow up because it is your choice. And being an adult is about making your own choices. I viewed the laws against Marijuana as silly contradicting laws. Why was alcohol legal and marijuana was not?

I had heard that hemp and marijuana were of the same plant. I knew hemp made jewelry and rope and clothing. I heard the stories of Marijuana helping with Glaucoma and with Nausea from Chemotherapy and AIDs. I heard about California and Oregon passing their medical laws.

I felt that there might be some legitimacy to the claim for medical use, but I figured most people were just using it as an excuse to get high.

Once I became a parent I was okay with my husband using Marijuana occasionally, since I used Alcohol occasionally. As long as he did it outside the home, or when we had a baby-sitter. It was my belief that Marijuana killed brain cells and made you stupid, as I had been taught long ago, and my husband sure acted like an idiot on it, so I didn’t touch the stuff. Besides, all it did was make me sleepy.

It was shortly after I found out through experience that Marijuana worked for pain that I started doing my own research and I learned that there was so much that I didn’t know. The very first thing I found was a study by a doctor in Madrid, Spain who injected Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) into the cancerous brain cells of lab rats, and the THC killed the cancerous cells but left the normal cells alive. So in essence, THC, the drug found in Marijuana, which I had been taught kills brains cells, actually does not… and in fact it actually helps kill cancer?? This find lead to more research and to numerous surprising discoveries of what the Cannabis plant is actually capable of.

Paper, Plastic, Fiber, Fuel… you name it, we could probably figure out a way to make it out of Cannabis. As a recreational drug, Cannabis is safer than alcohol for both the consumer and the public. It has been the direct cause of death for exactly ZERO people… in the entire history of mankind. I started to wonder why this plant was illegal, and why our politicians continued to say more research needed to be done. With the overwhelming amounts of studies and research that has already been done that show the benefits of Cannabis, you would think it would be common sense to utilize the plant to its fullest potential. I didn’t understand why this information wasn’t being shouted from the rooftops.

One of the most important things I teach my own child is to determine what is right instead of who is right. And from my point of view, once you know all the facts, its common sense that our policies surrounding the Cannabis plant are not right, and they need to be changed. I believe that raising awareness is the only way that is ever going to happen.

It is important that our government and our corporations research and utilize Cannabis for all of its potential benefits. I’m not saying that Cannabis is a cure-all, wouldn’t that be nice… but they don’t exist. But it can help with many many different things.

Cannabis is a sustainable and renewable crop that is ready for harvest just 120 days after going to seed, compared to trees which take decades or even centuries to reach maturity. The trees on our planet are rapidly being depleted, and thousands of distinct animal and plant species are being destroyed. The use of hemp could possibly end deforestation, and the need to recycle paper.

Plastics can be derived from plant cellulose instead of cellulose taken from petroleum. And Since Cannabis is the greatest cellulose producer on Earth, it only makes sense to make non-toxic, biodegradable plastic from Cannabis, instead of letting our dumps fill up with refuse from plastics derived from toxic petrochemicals.

Compared with corn as a possibility for bio-fuel, Cannabis is much more productive and cost – effective. One acre of hemp can produce ten times as much bio-fuel as an acre of corn, and at a much faster rate of growth. Cannabis can produce ten tons of biomass per acre in less than four months, and it would only take 6% of American Land to grow enough Cannabis to completely eliminate our need for fossil fuels which would make us energy independent from the rest of the world. No more oil wars.

It doesn’t make sense that a harmless substance with so many medical properties like Marijuana is a schedule one drug, and alcohol which kills thousands of people each year and has no medical use is not. The American Medical Association agrees that Cannabis has medical properties and that we need to seriously rethink it’s scheduling as a controlled substance.

The White House says that smoking Marijuana is not considered modern medicine. I agree with that. It’s the medicine of our forefathers. George Washington smoked it to control his chronic toothaches and Thomas Jefferson smoked it for inspiration and reflection.

But I say they need to make it into Modern Medicine. Make pharmaceuticals out of it. But at least for now it’s simply just a compassionate decision, to allow those who have found a safer and more effective medicine than the ones they can get from their doctors, to actually obtain that medicine without risking their life or their freedom. We need to help these people, not give them a criminal record and hinder their quality of life by throwing them in jail. We need to reschedule Marijuana so that it can be readily available as medicine, until our government can catch up and acknowledge what the future of medicine really looks like.

But seriously, if our government thinks more research needs to be done, then they need to actually do the research and do it now.

I hear a lot of the time that people think it would be wrong to legalize Marijuana because it would tell our kids it’s okay to smoke pot. I don’t agree. It is our job to tell them its not okay. Just as it is not okay to use any mind altering substance when your mind is still developing.

But regulating marijuana would tell them that, like alcohol and cigarettes, recreational use of marijuana is an adult decision. And educating them to the risks and benefits of the plant is a much better choice than lying to them. We are the parents, and as such we are the teachers. And we need to be teaching the truth. They will learn it eventually. I would rather have him learn it from me, then have him find out that I lied and then come to believe that I lied about everything else too. That in itself could be a gateway to him trying harder and more dangerous drugs because they no longer believe anything I have taught him.

Kids are going to make their own decisions, and some of them will experiment with drugs no matter what we tell them. The point is to teach them what is right so that they can make educated decisions. Drugs are not going to go away, and Drug dealers are everywhere.

Legalizing Marijuana, and putting age restrictions on it, would get it off the streets and make it more difficult for our children to obtain. And a lot of the time, Marijuana isn’t the only drug the dealers are selling, and having access makes another gateway to trying harder drugs.

Besides, regulating and taxing it would greatly boost our economy, create new jobs and put the millions of dollars that are spent each day on marijuana consumption back into our community and into our schools rather than fund the violence and supply of the gangs, drugs dealers and drug cartels.

Marijuana is not going to go away. There is a demand, so there will always be a supply. We need to make consumption beneficial for our society, instead of ruining the lives of our citizens and filling up our prisons with non-violent people, when there are murderers, rapists, child molesters and other people who are actually dangerous that we need be focusing on.

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