Legalization of marijuana, from medical only to full recreational use, is becoming quite the trend.

Interestingly, many of us who gladly passed the joint after a strong toke when we were in college, now frown upon the substance’s legalization. The usual reasons:

  • I used it in my youth and I know how bad it is
  • I may have used it but I don’t want my children/grandchildren using it
  • Didn’t use it then…don’t like it now

The problem with this oppositional view is twofold:

  • It’s hypocritical (we also drank up the proverbial storm in college, maybe still do, but gladly serve our offspring their favorite cocktail on their 21st birthday – alcohol – known to be both quite physically addictive, with a high potential for abuse and a gateway drug to harder substances)
  • doctors/scientists have had many years, in fact decades, to review the substance, study its effects and qualities, and get a handle on what it does…and does not do.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am for the legalization of marijuana. As my mother lay dying, in great pain and with persistent nausea caused by the drugs given to “help” her, I one day said to her “Mom, I wish I could get you some marijuana…I know it would help you so much…” To which she retorted, “so do I.” She was 90, and understood its benefits.

Here’s what the science has shown:

  • It’s not addictive (physically, that is)
  • It has very powerful medicinal qualities
  • It can be a gateway drug, equal to cigarettes, less so than alcohol
  • When compared to other pain relievers of equal impact, which are in the class of synthetic/semi-synthetic opiates such as OxyContin, Demoral, Percocet, Fentonyl, and Vicatin, marijuana’s medicinally has far fewer (if any) side-effects, and, again, is not addictive.

Even more interesting is the sociological/political/scientific history of marijuana (also known as marihuana and cannabis); here’s the abridged version compiled from a number of sources (Live Science; erowid, the #1 drug info website in the world; UCLA medicine):

  • Marijuana has been used medicinally for millennia – humans have grown and used the cannabis plant (marijuana) since the beginning of recorded history. As early as 2737 B.C., the emperor of China touted cannabis tea as a treatment for gout, rheumatism, and malaria. The drug’s popularity as a medicine spread throughout Asia, the Middle East and then to Africa and India, where Hindu sects used it for pain and stress relief.
  • By the late 18th century, early editions of American medical journals recommended hemp seeds and roots (from the stalk of the marihuana plant) for the treatment for a variety of conditions.
  • Then, in 1937, in order to raise revenues, The Marihuana Tax Act was passed by Congress over the objections of the American Medical Association – imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation/manufacturing. The tax was so high, cannabis fell out of favor, strictly for reasons of cost.

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