Since the turn of the 20th century, the government has had it out for cannabis. What was once seen as a harmless natural substance property owners could grow is now the target of numerous anti-drug campaigns to stomp out the “problem” once and for all.
But is cannabis truly a harmful gateway drug that menaces the public? Or are there other interests at play? As the research piles in on marijuana, the evidence is overwhelming that numerous health conditions, from Parkinson’s to chronic pain, can be alleviated with the use of cannabinoids —including the ones that don’t contain THC.
What, then, is that they don’t want us to know?
The Big Lie
First and foremost, the biggest lie we’ve been told decade after decade is that marijuana use is somehow harmful. There are many reasons why this statement is false, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at the logic behind this claim.
In children whose brains haven’t reached full maturity (approximately by age 25), some studies suggest permanent impairments in memory and cognitive function as a result of THC use. However, the research isn’t entirely conclusive—it may be that those children prone to use drugs already have brain development issues that instead predispose them to drug use in general.
But even if we take this research as true, it says nothing of problems in adults. It also fails to suggest any fatal conditions later in life more threatening than any other legal drugs (and no current research supports adult marijuana use as harmful in any case).
Additionally, we’ve been sold that cannabis is the “gateway drug” that will lead you to use all types of dangerous drugs. However, there is little analysis about the socioeconomic reasons behind this supposed phenomenon: marijuana is one of the cheaper “illegal” drugs, making it only natural to come first for future abusers.
Even playing devil’s advocate, most of the anti-drug propaganda falls flat in the face of sound logic and research. These are at best distractions to prolong a poor argument.
Follow the Money
That said, what is the benefit of taking such extreme measures to demonize marijuana? Is it just about not admitting a poor decision? We don’t think so—in fact, the reason is fairly straightforward.
Each year, billions of dollars go to funding anti-drug organizations. Marijuana is a chief target of these efforts—with legalization comes the irrelevancy of these offices and related jobs. This is doubly true in the court system where thousands of annual convictions drive our dollars into prisons and reform programs (to the detriment of other social goods).
The more obvious beneficiaries of cannabis demonization are the big pharmaceutical companies. They make their living selling patented drugs to “treat” conditions—especially those such as the Parkinson’s that are chronic and will always require therapy. This guarantees them a consistent customer base and exclusive “first to market” rights for years.
Were a natural, un-patentable and easy-to-grow remedy to hit the markets en masse, surely Big Pharma’s business model would suffer. There’s evidence of this fear all throughout the states currently voting on or debating the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana use.
A good example of this is with what is going on in Florida where only five licenses will be granted across the entire state to grow and distribute medical marijuana, and they will be given only to those able to raise more than $5 million. This fear over the replacement of Big Pharma as the key supplier for medical therapies (fueled by the industry itself) is what made passage so difficult. The only thing we can do in this case is shake our heads and ask: Is gardening really that dangerous?
Some might call this the natural defense of corporate interest. Unable to defeat science or popular opinion, they’ve opted to crush competition legally by becoming the sole distributor under the law. Unfortunately, this isn’t something most voters are aware of when voting for legalization.
Combatting Chronic Illnesses
Spending on chronic disease is the number one consumer of healthcare dollars in the United States. It accounts for more than three-fourths of hospital visits and over 90 percent of all medical prescriptions.
Of all the drugs being sold, the highest grossing drug, Humira, is given to treat chronic inflammation as a result of autoimmune diseases. It is a potent immunosuppressant drug that often leads to infection and/or cancer.
Another top category of drugs is NSAIDS. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are, as their name suggests, used to combat inflammatory conditions in the body. They also cause liver and kidney damage depending on the duration of use and the mechanism of activation.
Interestingly enough, cannabinoids also carry a potent anti-inflammatory effect and are used to treat many of the same conditions as the above prescription and OTC drugs. Yet cannabinoids haven’t been shown to have any side effects—meaning there is no need for supplemental drugs to combat other problems down the road caused by the treatment itself.
Staying Off the Watch List
Until the federal government totally strikes down the marijuana prohibition, it’s a good idea to stay off their list. Police still actively arrest cannabis users using both traditional and non-traditional methods—especially through the internet with the growing use of technology.
As a means of safety, it might be best to make your efforts discrete by using safeguards such as proxies, VPNs and anonymous online handles. This is not to suggest paranoia when supporting worthwhile causes such as total legalization, but rather to highlight the importance of being careful when venturing into these territories.
As an educated society, it’s important we understand that change rarely happens without event. With some degree of certainty, most of us agree that cannabis will be available in virtually every state within the next ten or twenty years.
But in the meantime, don’t forget that the government and its major lobbying interests will be biting back. Their interests are far too valuable to give up without a fight—let’s try to make sure we don’t lose our own interests in the process!
How will you educate yourself and others on the benefits of cannabis? Do you think Big Pharma is one of the main reasons legalization is stalled? Why or why not? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
About the Author: Carla is a social activist and champion of scientific truth. Despite the negative view cast over the last century on cannabis, she is confident that renewed interest will soon replace the falsehoods of yesteryear.