Marijuana: America’s Most Wanted Plant

I wanted to talk about a topic very dear to my heart. And that topic is marijuana. This may be a bit taboo, depending on your view on the plant. I’m going to discuss pot, my views on it, and its relation to my life. To begin, I’m going to start off with a bit of history.

Marijuana has had a very complicated history. Early history shows the plant used in food, material, and medicine. As far back as 2,000 B.C.E., cannabis (the dried leaves, seeds, and stems being called Bhang) was considered one of the five sacred plants of India. It was used medicinally, listed in Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as a “sacred grass”. Indians used it to release anxiety, aide in meditation, and achieve transcendental state. It was also used to treat skin disorders, nervous disorders and wounds. In the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, known as The Vedas, the mystical origin of cannabis is revealed. They state that as the Gods and demons churned the oceans in order to acquire their nectar, a drop of this desirable nectar landed on Mount Madra. This drop sprouted a plant, and a tea was made from the brewed leaves that became a favorite of all the Gods. Lord Shiva in particular was enthralled by this tea, and brought the plant down from the mountain for all of mankind to enjoy. This legend caused cannabis to be used ceremoniously, specifically in ritual offering to Shiva.

Other instances of cannabis’ usage in earlier history include Ancient China, where the earliest extant Chinese pharmacopoeia, called The Pen Ts’ao Ching, greatly details the plant and its many medicinal uses. The West came to value marijuana as well. In 1533 C.E., King VIII came to appreciate cannabis so much that he fined farmers who did not grow the plant. Settlers of Jamestown used the plant’s strong fibers in clothing, rope, and sails. From 1850 to 1915, marijuana became a major medicine in the United States, even being sold in stores and pharmacies. Seeing the popularity and obvious usefulness of the plant for such a long period brings about a very obvious question; how did such a valued plant become illegal?

It all boils down to race. After the Mexican Revolution, the U.S. saw an influx of Mexican immigrants migrating to states like Texas and Louisiana. Along with a rich culture and language, they brought marijuana. Of course, Americans were familiar with cannabis due to it being so prevalent medically, however the word “marijuana” that the immigrants referred to was new. This was used by the media to scare Americans and was basically an extension of the condemnation of the Mexican people.

The mix of cannabis and racism hit the roof in the 1930s, when claims that the plant caused men of color to become aggressive and rape white women became one of the main causes of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively banned sale and use. “Reefer Madness” became a popular term, referring to a propaganda film made to scare young adults away from marijuana. It was quickly removed from the U.S. pharmacopoeia and was no longer recognized as a medicine in the United States. For 59 years it reigned as an illicit drug with no medicinal use, until California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996. Since then, many more states have joined California (including Colorado, who legalized recreational use in 2012) and have led many to reevaluate its illegal status.

Considering marijuana’s lengthy and controversial history, it’s hard to see this plant as an illicit drug. All I understand is that a valuable medicinal plant that can produce paper, food, rope, plastics, biofuel, and clothing has been clouded by bigotry and greed. Anyone that agrees with the idea that marijuana is dangerous has been blinded by one very popular study done in 1980 that became the backdrop for Reagan’s infamous campaign against the plant through the war on drugs. Rhesus monkeys were strapped in chairs and fitted with gas masks. Through these gas masks, cannabis smoke (an amount equivalent to 63 joints) was pumped into the orifice of the primates in five minutes. The study concluded that marijuana did destroy brain cells. Obviously, there are many reasons that this study is straight false. First of all, no oxygen was allowed through the gas mask. Secondly, the pure concentration of smoke led to asphyxiation. Although the study demonstrated how cruel, inhumane carbon monoxide poisoning and animal asphyxiation led to loss of brain cells, marijuana was not proven to.

Secondly, marijuana is never isolated from other Schedule 1 drugs such as heroin, meth and cocaine when tested. When demonstrating the “dangerous” nature of cannabis, the plant is lumped into the same trials as the other synthetic drugs. Of course, these studies are conducted by the government, who refuse to de-schedule the drug.

I believe my previous points made demonstrate my opinion on marijuana. Its illegalization is the result of government corruption and systematic racism. I believe that marijuana can be one of our most important resources on this earth, due to its sustainability and versatility. Most importantly, its medical usage is one of the most powerful forces on this earth and could benefit millions of people. Across the country, many cancer and AIDS patients turn to CBD oil for relief that chemotherapy and other costly treatments do not provide.

I am a medical marijuana patient. I have been for a little more than 6 months. Marijuana has a played a large role in my life. I mainly use the medicine as an anxiety and pain reliever. I also use it for menstrual cramps. Marijuana has changed the way I see modern medicine and health. It is innovative, painless, and renewable. I will always recommend getting a medical marijuana card to people I meet who suffer daily from chronic ailments. Why are we spending billions on the pharmaceutical industry each year when the earth yields superior and side-effect-free medicine for a fraction of the price (or free if you are legally able to grow your own plants)? It all comes down to greed. Americans are getting sicker and sicker, and making more money for Big Pharma and the government. When we have control over our own health, they lose money. That is why I support marijuana and its legalization. And if you drink alcohol, consume caffeine, or smoke cigarettes don’t you dare tell me that it’s unhealthy or morally wrong. My advice to you is to put down that poison, sit back and smoke a joint.

 

Sources used:

  1. http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/history.html
  2. http://www.sanskritimagazine.com/indian-religions/hinduism/why-does-lord-shiva-drink-bhang/
  3. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/chinesemedicine/emperors.html
  4. http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-did-marijuana-become-illegal-first-place
  5. https://www.hgabmag.com/40-years-since-marijuana-monkey/
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