Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Brief History of Marijuana, and the Modern Marijuana Legalization Movement

Medical Marijuana use is already Widespread: Click to enlarge.

Disclaimer: this information is given here for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, nor is any information in this blog post to be construed as condoning or encouraging any illegal activity.

In the 1920s and 1930s when "reefer madness" was the norm in public dialogue regarding marijuana, a host of powerful forces came together to destroy, once and for all, the devil's weed: call it wwhat you will, mary jane, pot, weed- it made no difference, surely this plant, above all others, was a threat to public safety.

Around that time, an unholy alliance of prohibitionists, corporations (particularly paper, oil, and fiber companies) and politicians seeking wedge issues came together to attack the very existence of the cannabis plant- which had been growing wild in areas across the world and had been used by numerous ancient cultures since time immemorial.

According to the propaganda of the time, marijuana drove people into a lunatic frenzy, causing them to crash cars, hold wild orgiastic parties, and kill one another (as well as have premarital sex, oh the horror!)

In the years that followed (alcohol prohibition having been repealed) the public stuck to drinking, smoking good ol' American tobacco (tastes good like a cigarette should) and huffing model airplane glue.

Around the late 1950s and into the wild days of the 1960s, a host of hippies, eastern shaman, occultists, and amateur chemists brought substances like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline (and substances which didn't actually exist like bananarine) onto the wide scope of society- the hippies, in their drug induced stupor, actually did act much like the people in reefer madness minus, of course, the killing each other and crashing their cars in a frenzy- as it became clear to people that these "new" substances were a lot more powerful than marijuana, the paradigm shifted away from "marijuana will make you go insane" and towards "marijuana is unpatriotic, look at these goofy hippies smoking dope and skinny dipping!"

In the 1970s and into the 1980s a new wave of propaganda emerged- a field of early studies suggested that marijuana might not be as harmful, addictive, and terrible for you as previously thought.

How, oh how, would the wedge issue moralist politicians, scared suburban soccer moms, and megachurch pastors keep their children from smoking marijuana and thus becoming communist sympathizers?

The answer was clear- in the dead of night Ronald Reagan and his entourage got together and decided on a plan of action- henceforth, marijuana itself wasn't "that bad" but, now, it morphed into a "gateway drug" that would cause the new pot smoker to seek out harder substances until finally they lay dead in an alleyway, having injected heroin into their eyeballs while also smoking a five pound crack rock, chuckling all the way to an early grave.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton revealed that he had tried marijuana (but magically, Clinton never inhaled the drug, assuring the public that he wasn't a lunatic and hadn't committed the ultimate sin of using any drug that isn't produced domestically like tobacco and alcohol tends to be.) As the number of people who dared to inhale a puff of the devils' weed increased, support for legalization slowly increased as well- putting the moralists in a tight position.

In the waning hours of the Bush era, as states began to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, a new batch of ready propaganda emerged from the government and their pastor friends, courtesy of as much money as the oil, religious, and paper industries could field in their favor- marijuana was now not a gateway drug, and wasn't itself overtly harmful to most smokers, but a few people would become raging paranoid schizophrenics and would get lung cancer from using it! The public was now assured that marijuana should only be allowed for the very sick and dying, preferring to dispense morphine (which by the way comes from the same species of poppy that produces heroin precursors) to the sick anyways because "it's legal."

Now though, in the fine year of 2013, two states have fully legalized marijuana, and the federal government is not getting in the way of its use- Colorado and Washington State, so far, have not been overrun by violent, dangerous addicts whose sadistic gaze falls upon your young daughters and upon every twinkie available- why people in these states are biologically capable of smoking marijuana without ill effects is as yet unexplained by the moralists, who continue to insist it's a danger to our health.

The reality is this- that marijuana never was, and never will be, a significant threat to public health, and that the war on the devil's weed has resulted in tens of millions of people being imprisoned, tens of thousands being shot during drug raids, millions of ruined lives as people convicted of no violent crime whatsoever are thrown in jail for years or decades- surely, the ramifications of jailing a significant proportion of the population and rendering a largely safe, natural substance illegal, especially since it is now known to be medically significant, are evident to anyone with a working brain.

In fact, in some of the more reasonable states (IE those not run by bible thumpers) movements are active as we speak in the struggle to either legalize or decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana- here in my home state the authorities mostly turn a blind eye to its use, unless the person happens to have a large amount of maruijuana on their person- otherwise typically they just get their pipe broken and their weed taken (it is likely then smoked joyfully by the same officer(s) involved.)

So now we have to answer a few questions about marijuana...

1. Can marijuana kill you?

Answer: Strictly speaking, no- the compounds in marijuana are themselves only slightly toxic, and you'd likely die of smoke inhalation long before you succumb to the chemical effects of marijuana- however, marijuana is sometimes laced with other, more dangerous compounds, and thus it makes sense to get marijuana from a reliable source. (Note 1)

2. Is marijuana nowadays stronger than in the past?

Answer: Yes and no- new strains have been bred which do contain a huge amount of THC and other cannabinoids, but most marijuana bought on the street remains about the same as it always was before, and is not a special strain, nor particularly well grown- of note is that the gram dosage used in the present era is smaller than in the past, accounting for any increased potency. (Note 2.)

3. Is smoking marijuana a sin?

Answer: I don't know- I suppose it depends on whether your god uses logic or not- if you believe in a deity, surely the deity put marijuana on the planet for a reason. Most of the pastors and priests which declare marijuana use to be a sin, seem to be funding political campaigns. (Note 3.)

4. Is marijuana addictive?

Answer: Yes, slightly- any substance which alters the mind carries a possible addiction potential, however cannabinoids aren't particularly chemically addictive (like alcohol or cigarettes are) and thus any addiction is psychological dependency. I found it easy to stop smoking marijuana, as do many others, but some people do, admittedly, use it too often and become dependent. (Note 4.)

5. Can marijuana cause schizophrenia?

Answer: This was widely claimed in the past, but new studies suggest no link between marijuana use and schizophrenia- this old claim might be the result of schizophrenics (who were already afflicted) self-medicating with marijuana to help ease their symptoms, or the side effects of antipsychotics. (Note 5.)

6. Is marijuana medically significant?

Answer: Studies seem to indicate that it is- it seems to treat glaucoma and certainly is a pain reliever as well- claims of its anti-cancer properties may be true, but more tests are needed. It also seems to relieve depression symptoms and headaches. INote 6.)

7. Is it safe to use marijuana and drive/work/etc?

Answer: No, as with any mind altering substance, this is a bad idea (and even where it's legal, would result in breaking the law with a DUI.) While I have known people who have driven while high, I don't encourage it. (Note 7.)

8. Why was marijuana illegal to begin with if it's medically active and not nearly as harmful as other, perfectly legal drugs?

Answer: Because hemp would have driven oil companies and paper manufacturers out of business, and because when it was first banned the prohibition movement encompassed more than just alcohol- most people don't realize that the same prohibitionists also went after gambling, marijuana, and supported the eugenics movement (which you should google, it might give you an idea the kind of geniuses we're talking about who became prohibitionists.) There were also a host of other reasons marijuana was targeted. (Note 8.)

9. Is there a historical precedent for marijuana being used spiritually?

Answer: Yes, the scythian people apparently used to burn it on an open fire inside their huts and sit around and get baked. (Note 9.)

10. Is marijuana as harmful as cigarettes, since it is usually smoked?

Answer: The smoke of marijuana, unlike that of cigarettes, does not contain a mix of chemical additives designed for it to not go out when not being continuously inhaled, as is the case with tobacco in cigarettes- additionally, the tobacco plant has a nasty habit of leeching soil anyways, and absorbs all sorts of toxins from it- whereas marijuana plants seem not to have this biological proclivity. (Note 10.)

Additionally, some marijuana users employ a vaporizer, which releases no smoke at all and is (probably) better for their lungs.

11. Is marijuana a gateway drug?

Answer: No. (Note 11.)

12. Are synthetic legal highs (spice, K2, etc) safe alternatives to marijuana for those who get drug tested?

Answer: Absolutely, unequivocally, NO. These substances are research chemicals, some of which cause violent hallucinations and stupor when accidentally consumed in high doses- I speak from my own personal experience. If you are being drug tested, best bet is not to use drugs (don't worry though, as it is slowly legalized in new states, drug testing might catch up and stop targeting pot.)

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