23 states have now legalized weed in some form or another and four states and the District of Columbia have (finally, yay) legalized weed for recreational use.
But weed has always been on the long and winding road from cultural staple, to labeled as toxic, to recreational to illegal, to kind of legal and finally (hopefully) legalization for over a hundred years. People have been fighting to get pot legalized since the 1970s. And we thought prohibition was a bitch, sheesh.
There have been many justifications for keeping cannabis illegal in the United States. The government has called it a “gateway drug,” we’ve likened it to heroin and cocaine, we’ve kept our children from it, warning them not to become “potheads.”
We’ve spent so much time demonizing weed that we’ve neglected to cover the actual truth behind the drug: it’s relatively harmless, non-addictive and serves as a pain reliever for many illnesses including cancer and glaucoma.
We’re so busy calling marijuana “bad” and talking about how weed is illegal that we don’t even acknowledge the good.
It’s time we called bullshit on this whole charade and look at the actual facts. If marijuana has helpful benefits, why keep it illegal?
Follow me, my friends, and we will debunk every single sanction and decree that has ever stood in the way of you and your marijuana.
1. People think marijuana is addictive.
And those people are wrong. The 1970’s Controlled Substance Act deemed marijuana a Substance I, meaning it has potential to be highly addictive and could be abused.
The truth is, most pot smokers do not become addicted. In fact, alcohol is far more addicting than marijuana. In a survey recorded in Scientific American, of 8,000 subjects ages 18-64 drug and alcohol users, only 9% ever developed a dependence on cannabis, whereas 15% developed a dependency on alcohol.
Not to mention alcohol kills 88,000 people every single year and is regularly overdosed on. You cannot OD on pot.
Yet, alcohol remains perfectly legal while weed is outlawed. It’s easy to see how this is massively messed up.
2. Immigrants get the short end of the stick.
In the 1900s, just after the Mexican Revolution the US saw a huge influx of Mexican immigrants into the United States. The immigrants, as all do throughout history, brought with them “marihuana.” According to Drug Policy.org, in Mexico, the plant was used a means of relaxation and pain relief.
Unfortunately, it is frequent practice in the US to look down upon immigrants and to therefore exploit them. We used “marihuana” as a means to vilify the people we saw as intruders to our homeland.
Here we were, wholesome, corn-fed Americans being subjected to the terrible horrors of pot. All those bad things you did, Johnny, those were the fault of damn Mexicans and their “marihuana!”
Sadly, using a culture’s customs as a means of marshall control has proved very effective throughout history and has been a common practice.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which criminalized all sale and consumption of cannabis, was actually born of the conspiracy that weed was linked to causing black males to become more violent. Basically, marijuana’s criminalization is deeply rooted in racism.
3. Nixon was an asshole.
After the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was declared unconstitutional (because, obviously) it was replaced with the 1970’s Controlled Substance Act “which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction.”
Pot was placed in the Substance category I the most intense, blue-balled category. Basically, it was considered as horrible as crack and heroine. While it was decided that weed should definitely not be considered a Substance I, President Nixon decided to keep it on lock because he was a tyrant.
Thanks a lot, Dick.
4. Weed is thought to have harmful effects on the body…which it doesn’t.
Fun fact, kids. Weed is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Mind blown or nah?
In fact, a study recorded in Scientific Reports shows that marijuana is actually the least harmful of basically all recreational substances. Of all the things can can fuck you up, pot is the least of your worries. And not even by a little bit, my friends, but by A LOT.
Isn’t that fun?
So, while authorities have historically informed the masses that if you smoke pot, you’re going to end up a homeless junkie, hopeless addicted to heroine, living in a castle made of cans under a highway bridge– (okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but hey) — maybe take those “deadly” assessments with a grain of salt.
If alcohol is perfectly legal, how can pot be illegal? Riddle me that, maestro.
5. Marijuana is thought to be a gateway drug…which it isn’t.
The government has made keeping weed illegal by calling it a gateway drug, meaning that it is often one of the first substances tried before a user moves on to heavier, more addictive and destructive drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Uncle Sam, but there are holes in your argument. The problem is that weed actually is not a gateway drug at all. According to data from the United State’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 60% of marijuana enthusiasts went on to try harder drugs.
Now, you may think that this means weed is, in fact, a dangerous drug that leads poor little children down the dark and dangerous path of junkie-dom, but that is actually not the case. If you look at the data collected from the survey, 88% of drug users began their abuse with alcohol.
As The Independent points out, you may be inclined to try other drugs if you enjoy the effects of marijuana but no more so than if you begin your substance experimentation with alcohol.
Calling marijuana a “gateway” drug suggests that once you try it, it is “the tipping point” before a freefall into unabashed drug abuse. This simply is not the case. It just happens to be the weakest and cheapest drug that one can come by when on a path of experimentation.
As The Atlantic so poetically puts it, “Marijuana isn’t a ‘gateway’ to harder drugs in the same way that ordering an appetizer isn’t a ‘gateway’ to an entree: One comes before the other, but you’re eating both because you’re already at the restaurant.”
6. Legal pot means big trouble for big pharmaceutical companies.
You know who is backing most of the anti-weed legislation that overruns Washington D.C.?
I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with shmaraceutical shmupanies.
Yes, pharmaceutical companies, FTW!
Why, my dear readers? Let me tell you. As I mentioned briefly in the intro to this little adventure down Bullshit Americans Are Fed Lane, marijuana can actually be used as both as a highly effective pain reliever and a nausea reducer.
Big-man pharmaceutical companies make many a dollar off of prescription pain pills doled out to their various, suffering cliental.
Let’s play the guessing game again, just for fun, shall we?
Can you guess what would happen to pharmaceutical companies if marijuana were completely legalized?
Did you guess LOSE A LOT OF MONEY? Because if you did, you are right!
As you can see, these big companies have a lot of stake in the fight to keep marijuana out of the hands of the people who need it. Isn’t that lovely?
To top it all off, to add just a little more delightful icing to the cake: prescription drugs kill more people in a year than cocaine and heroin combined.
You know what doesn’t do that?
(The answer is pot.)