Medical Uses of Cannabis

Cannabis (or marijuana, weed, pot, and grass in modern day slang), has been one of the most infamous plants in history since its discovery and use in the ancient times. Theorized to have originated in Asia and eventually spreading to other regions such as India and Europe, cannabis has been used for treating various ailments and connecting with spirituality. The early Vikings used it for toothaches and pain management during childbirth, while the Chinese found it useful for treating rheumatism and absent-mindedness, oddly enough. After establishing a Middle Eastern patronage in Muslims, it was eventually introduced to the New World and was grown not just for its medicinal effects but for its tough fibrous hemp. The hemp was used for paper, textiles and oil extracts that have recently gained popularity due to its positive effects on the body as well. Cannabis maintained its safe recreational reputation until the 1930’s when it was noted as a Schedule I drug due to its addictive qualities and zero medical uses, bumped together with heroin in the classification. It was eventually used as a symbol of rebellion during the 70’s by hippies, which further pushed its status as a harmful drug that should never be used. It still retains its controversial status today because of the countless cases of possession, intoxication, and unstable behavior of marijuana users. But is cannabis as bad as how it is depicted by authorities and in the cases we see in the news?

 

The plant has been one of the most controversial topics to date as experts have pingpong discussions on cannabis’ benefits and hazards, its public image, and future in the medical field. Although more than half of the United States population (around 55%) approve of its legalization, not all states have adapted to its support and some of the states that do approve its legalization for medical use still condemn marijuana users. It is normally seen as a harmful drug, but there are also reports on its medicinal uses in treating seizures, alleviating pain in cancer patients, and increasing focus in mentally unstable individuals. Although there are only a few cases conducted in safe conditions, cannabis shouldn’t be entirely ruled out as a harmful drug. A thorough understanding should be in place before cannabis is to be classified as the dangerous plant it is known to be today. Its chemical process in the human body is not yet fully understood to date, which increases the need for more research on its effects and benefits. Yes, the drug has been used for centuries as a treatment for various illnesses, but science needs to fully understand marijuana before it can be deemed as a harmful drug and ultimately inappropriate for consumption.

         

So far, there is some evidence that provide information as to what chemical attributes play a role on the effects of cannabis, but there is more data that has yet to be identified before coming to a solid conclusion. As a whole, cannabis can have good and bad results on the body depending on variables that still need identification. The outcome would depend on the individual, though no specifications prove as to why this happens.

How Cannabis Affects the Body

Cannabis can be ingested in many ways: smoke inhalation, eating, brewing into drinks, topical application, and oil extraction are just some of the options people have in using marijuana. The most instantaneous effect comes from smoking the shredded leaves, flowers, and seeds of the cannabis plant. This is achieved through rolling them in a cigar-like fashion and treating it the same way as how a cigarette is used. Marijuana is also infused in ingredients such as butter and milk, but the effects take longer to kick in than in smoking but can stay in the body for lengthy periods.

 

Once the smoke enters the lungs, it is taken into the bloodstream until it reaches the brain. In eating or drinking cannabis, the stomach absorbs the components and circulates it throughout the body, specifically targeting the brain. There is a chemical component in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which acts on the brain and stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, both are hormones in the body that are related to pleasure and the flight-or-fight response respectively. It also lowers pain perception in the body, which has benefited patients with chronic pain. THC actually resembles chemicals that are also found in our body, specifically the chemical anandamide which is a natural neurotransmitter. This increases neural activity in the brain and allows it to become continuously stimulated, wherein the normal process would require breaks within each transmission.

 

Another chemical that has benefited the body is cannabidiol or CBD, a component that was initially found in lower levels than THC. In recent years, CBD has garnered attention for its positive effects on the body without the feeling of being ‘high’. Medical marijuana growers are now able to grow cannabis that does not only have higher levels of CBD, but lower to zero levels of THC, making it the ideal treatment for patients experiencing chronic pain. Below are the effects of THC and CBD in the brain:

 

  1. Euphoria – or “high”, this effect is highly sought after by individuals who use it for recreational purposes. It is likely that addiction stems from wanting to recreate this powerful effect.

 

  1. Relaxation – the most common effect of marijuana consumption. This has proven to be beneficial in patients who experience neural and behavioral disorders.

 

  1. Paranoia – recent studies have shown that some cannabis users experience powerful fear of harm when ingesting the plant. This does not happen to all consumers, and regular users don’t experience feelings of paranoia.

 

  1. Decreased ability to perform/complete tasks – this is most likely due to the feelings of relaxation produced by cannabis.

 

  1. Pain Modulation- pain receptors in the body temporarily decrease in sensitivity most likely due to the stimulation of the pleasure areas of the brain.

 

The plant also poses effects on the body, which can vary from person to person. But experts believe that marijuana is actually more harmful to teens than to adults because their bodies are still at a growing state, particularly the brain. Brain maturity usually happens at around 25-26 years of age, and marijuana impairs brain and body development which is said to lead to schizophrenia or dementia in the future. Other common harmful effects include:

 

  1. Heart attacks – there are growing heart attack cases related to cannabis use as a person is 4.8 times more at risk of acquiring a heart attack in the first hour of smoking it. This can be related to the increase in heart rate that commonly occurs after smoking but gradually subsides within an hour or so.

 

  1. Lung damage – studies suggest that marijuana contains relatively the same amount of toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. The cell linings of major airways are damaged which lead to acute bronchitis, chronic cough, and wheeze.

 

  1. Addiction – this is the most common side effect, as the euphoric sensation becomes addictive to many users. It is this reason that has classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug in the United States. Although it is odd that cocaine and meth are considered less dangerous as they are classified as Schedule II drugs and have more dependents compared to marijuana, cannabis lobbyists continue to rally against this ranking and its overall classification as a dangerous drug.

 

Despite the recent portrayal of marijuana as a dangerous drug, history and modern research have given examples that show how beneficial marijuana can actually be. With recent studies, beneficial effects include:

 

  1. Reduced depressive state – research has shown that marijuana lowers depressive symptoms, though to be brought about by its euphoric effects. Endocannabinoids are chemicals found in our body that are responsible for mood, pain perception, appetite, and memory. Chronic stress is one of the chief causes of depression, wherein it reduces the amount of endocannabinoids in the body. In a preliminary study performed on rats, CBD has a similar formation to endocannabinoids, and once ingested, the cannabis was able to bring the chemical to a normal state, thus lowering depression.

 

  1. Lowered Anxiety – anxiety reduction has been seen as a result in cannabis use and is a choice of treatment for people suffering from chronic anxiety. But there is a variation in results, as some patients experience worse anxiety which could be related to the increase in norepinephrine.

 

  1. Weight loss – although marijuana is known to produce the “munchies”- meaning the user experiences food cravings, some studies have reported that people who smoke it have smaller weight circumferences than non-smokers. This can relate to other factors between smokers and non-smokers such as religion and underlying illnesses, as researchers have yet to understand this phenomenon.

 

  1. Pain relief – marijuana is commonly used by cancer patients to decrease the inflammatory process of chemotherapy. It is also beneficial for rheumatism, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and inflammatory bowel syndrome. Further discussion of illnesses that cannabis treats can be found below.

 

There is admittedly a variation in results when it comes to cannabis. It has been highly useful in reducing pain and calming nerve impulses, but there are also some studies that mention cannabis’ long term effects of cognitive impairment and memory loss as well as its relation to psychosis. Despite the growing number of testimonials, experts and physicians require more substantial evidence in order to recommend it as a treatment drug.

 

With regards to its consumption, the most harmful method of using marijuana is through smoking it. While infusions and oil extracts are known to be relatively safe for consumption with little or no side effects according to studies, newer studies suggest otherwise. Regardless, there is still a lot to learn about how marijuana affects the human body and what makes the effects vary aside from the span of time a person has used the drug and how often it is taken. In any case, further research is still required. But this in itself poses a problem, as many countries deem it illegal and researchers require permits to perform sufficient research, which can cost more money if anything goes amiss in the eyes of the federal government. It is unfortunate that the research of this plant is slow because of the many restrictions, but pro-marijuana societies and groups are hopeful that future studies will show how the benefits can reshape lives and promote a better way of life.

Treating Illnesses with Marijuana

Throughout the years, the amount of THC in cannabis has vastly increased compared to its pre-illegalization days, which has contributed to how more and more people are addicted to it. But despite its increased levels in recent years, cannabis has become immensely beneficial to people who use it purely for medicinal purposes. This is mostly caused by CBD. This chemical component has opened up a new way of treating illnesses without the risk of getting high. People who are in favor of illegalizing cannabis can’t deny the mounting evidence that suggest its usefulness and benefits that has been given to people with serious conditions. In no way has the Schedule I classification of marijuana been more misleading than with the growing evidence that suggests otherwise. Here are some of the diseases that cannabis has helped treat/alleviate, according to recent studies:

 

  1. Glaucoma – an increase in pressure within the eyeball can cause severe optic nerve damage and can result in permanent blindness, known as glaucoma. It is known to be one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States today. According to studies conducted in the 1970’s, smoking marijuana has lowered the intraocular pressure (IOP) in people suffering from glaucoma, especially those with diabetes as well as the IOP in people with normal eye pressure.

 

  1. Epilepsy – Due to the calm and relaxation that goes with marijuana, children and adults who suffer epileptic episodes of seizures as a result of underlying diseases are able to live better lives without worrying about seizures that could occur. This is particularly true with children suffering from Dravet’s syndrome, which causes extreme seizures and developmental delays. One case has been so successful that the child’s previous count of 300 seizures per week was reduced to a staggering seven. According to experts, marijuana that is high in CBD and low in THC is the reason for this feat. It quiets the excessive neural activity that is normally found in individuals suffering from frequent seizures and enables the brain to work at a normal pace.

 

  1. Cancer – not only has marijuana been used in the alleviation of pain in individuals with cancer. Studies have shown that it can even hinder the growth of cancer cells. The Id-1 gene, which is present in cancer cells, failed to duplicate when exposed to CBD. This has become a breakthrough in the field of cancer research and further studies are being done to better understand it and to create a drug that will prevent the spread of cancer in the body without any harmful side effects. Another benefit is that marijuana increases the appetite of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, due to the “munchies” side effect. As patients usually lose their appetites resulting in extreme weight loss, this is a welcome change for patients and doctors like.

 

  1. Chronic Pain – medical marijuana has helped people suffering from chronic pain as with cancer. Other diseases with such pain include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and migraines. Nerve pain associated to HIV, spinal surgery, and amputation have also benefited from marijuana use.

 

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease – a degenerative disease of the brain where thought processing and memory recall are destroyed, Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million Americans. Recent studies suggest that medical marijuana can prevent the neurodegenerative process of the disease better than the commonly prescribed medications tacrine and donepezil. Marijuana has greatly benefited Alzheimer’s patients because it treats both the disease and its symptoms. The protein beta-amyloid is a key component in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but patients who have taken small doses of CBD have shown that the production of this protein is slowed, thus delaying the disease’s progression.

 

  1. Multiple Sclerosis – this disease affects the myelin sheath that covers every nerve cell in our body. These insulating covers are so damaged that the cell is no longer able to carry out an impulse to the connecting cells, which show in an array of symptoms that are physical, mental, and even psychiatric in nature. It is known to be the leading autoimmune disorder in America with no cause as to how it occurs. Medical cannabis works as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-spasmodic, and antidepressant for MS. It has benefited MS patients so much that the amount of medication they consume is vastly reduced because medical marijuana encompasses majority of the disease’s symptoms. Muscle spasms, tremors, intense pain and other symptoms are significantly reduced due to the consumption of the plant.

 

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – also known as PTSD, this is caused by traumatizing experiences that affect a person’s way of life after the experience has occurred. It is a common problem in military veterans wherein cases of suicide have increased dramatically within the past decade. Studies related to medical marijuana and PTSD are still at their preliminary stages and no sufficient medical evidence can be given aside from patient anecdotes of its benefits in reducing nightmares, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Some states are gradually opening its doors to the prescription of medical marijuana for war veterans suffering from PTSD, as prescription mainstays such as Paxil and Zoloft are unable to effectively treat the symptoms.

 

  1. Crohn’s Disease – it is the inflammation of the digestive tract, characterized by diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal pain, and weight loss. One study has shown that almost half of the subjects who had Crohn’s and were regularly smoking cannabis experienced complete remissions with no side effects. This is most likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant. They also experienced better sleep patterns, as Crohn’s disease causes defecation of around 20 times a day and often during sleeping hours.

 

These are just some of the many ailments marijuana has helped treat despite the lack of scientific study. This has been a barrier that researchers have yet to overcome since the plant is classified as dangerous. But there are increasing anecdotal reports that suggest the plant should be given a chance to be better understood and used for its medical benefits. Patients who are forced to take 10-15 drugs per day now only take 2-3 thanks to marijuana and its effective treatment of symptoms. Despite its ability to induce psychosis and addiction, there is a chance that modern medicine can alter the plants chemical components so that it can be used for good.

 

It is a shame that an herb that has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal benefits is shunned by modern society because of something that we have the ability to alter with the help of technology. We instead turn to prescription drugs that provide temporary relief but do nothing for us in the future. They even have the chance of being fatal when taken incorrectly. Scientists are reluctant to shed light on how beneficial cannabis is to the body because of the stigma that is placed on the plant. But there is a ray of hope: the growing number of research and stories that are holding influence of how we see cannabis today. It will slowly raise awareness on the herb and eventually open its doors for symptomatic care and treatment for the public.

The Argument for Legalization

Before the recent push of legalizing marijuana, it has been a tedious process of trying to break the initial concept of the “War on Drugs”. This refers to the various government programs initiated to stop the use of recreational drugs such as cannabis. Tactical techniques, agencies and campaigns spawned after its conception in the US in 1972 as a way to ban their usage. Many countries have followed in their wake as for banning the drug, but it varies in each country as to whether they suppress usage completely or permit only a specific amount for personal use. Whatever the case may be for all countries, the discussion as to whether cannabis should be legalized or not is still a hot topic.

 

Cannabis consumers have valid reasons as to why the plant should be legalized based on views or actions made by other countries on the drug. Here is a general list of the benefits in legalizing marijuana:

 

  1. Lowered crime rate – statistics have shown that Colorado, a state which legalized cannabis in 2010, had a decrease in property and violent crime rates ever since they legalized its use. The misconception that crime is associated to marijuana use stems from the movie “Reefer Madness” which was released around 80 years ago. To this day anti-cannabis supporters use this film to instill fear and doubt about cannabis usage. Not only is the data misleading, it is also outdated and still used as a rallying point for believers that marijuana is a dangerous drug. This leads us to another false belief is that cannabis is a “gateway” drug. Nicotine and alcohol are better suited under the term “gateway drugs” than cannabis as the plant usually follows the use of these two rather than precede them. Using other harmful drugs such as cocaine and heroin has a stronger likelihood of crime compared to the solitary use of marijuana.

 

  1. Medical benefits of marijuana – as previously mentioned in the topic above, cannabis has been extremely beneficial in treating all kinds of diseases, not just to alleviate symptoms but to negate them entirely. This should be a breakthrough in science as we are at a constant search for cures to cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy to name a few. Again, further research is the only way to determine its true efficacy but the federal government poses extreme notions to not let it happen. The legalization of marijuana would be especially beneficial in the medical field as patients would experience relief from pain and a better chance of living normally.

 

  1. Biases in Law Enforcement – black Americans understand this point because they are contenders for having more arrests related to marijuana possession than any other race. They are four times more likely to be arrested despite the fact that the usage of marijuana is relatively the same for all races. It also costs approximately $3.6 billion to fund cannabis enforcement with arrests that are mostly placed on non-violent offenders. Economists agree that legalizing marijuana would save around $13 billion in expenses which could be placed in healthcare or education. Countless resources are wasted because of this and should instead be directed towards more pressing matters. In 2012, more arrests were made on the possession of marijuana than heroin and cocaine which are both far more harmful than marijuana.

 

  1. Legalization will not lead to increased use – this was pointed out by one study held in London, where cannabis was legalized for one year. Within that span of time proper education and information dissemination was performed in order to teach people the facts about cannabis. The results showed that not only did the crime rate decrease, it showed that there was a decrease in the use of marijuana as well.

 

  1. Tobacco and alcohol are worse than marijuana – it is a fact that marijuana poses a lesser threat to society than tobacco and alcohol. These two have been criminalized in the past but to no avail. Both substances bring worse diseases such as liver cirrhosis, lung cancer, bronchitis, hepatitis and many other diseases. Cannabis is also over a hundred times less toxic than alcohol making it safer to consume. In fact, cannabis is less addictive than alcohol or tobacco, with 9-10% of users admitting to their addiction. Tobacco triples marijuana’s amount with 30% of users being addicted. The stigma surrounding marijuana doesn’t just come from the government: tobacco companies are joining the bandwagon in criminalizing cannabis because it would be compromising in their part if it were legalized.

 

  1. Zero cannabis overdosing – in the history of marijuana use not a single person has died from an overdose. In relation to the 30,000 deaths from overdosing in other drugs, cannabis has the cleanest record of all the illegal (and probably legal) drugs in the market today. Even prescription drugs pose a larger threat than cannabis: opiates, antidepressants, even painkillers are more addictive and hove more cases of drug overdose than cannabis.

 

  1. Potential tax revenues – whether a person is pro- or anti-cannabis legalization, it is generally agreed upon that not taxing marijuana is giving black market dealers more income for a plant that actually does more good than other substances. The United States is missing out on approximately $1 billion in supposed tax revenues if they were to legalize marijuana.

 

Marijuana is currently the only substance that has the closest chance of claiming legalization, but the work is far from over because the federal and legal government turn a blind eye to the achievements marijuana has contributed to the health and well-being of many individuals. Despite the opportunity countries would have if they were to legalize it, studies are further needed to confirm that cannabis isn’t as harmful as it has been portrayed for the past 8 decades. But given the advantages that marijuana brings based on stories and testimonials, there are still people who question its addictiveness, effect on productivity and health. These can only be addressed through proper education of the masses on what marijuana really does, not how it is thought to do. This could mean the difference of how people perceive and use it. Moderation in consuming marijuana is the key to balancing it out as with anything we do. Exercise, food, smoking, all these require moderation and it is no different with marijuana. Changing the countless misconceptions people have about the drug is slowly forming, with almost half of the US population admitting that they have tried marijuana. But this has yet to affect the entire world’s perception of the drug and the people who use it.

Amsterdam – A Success?

While people continuously haggle over the legalization of marijuana, one location has welcomed it to their coffee shops and immediately garnered the attention of the world – Amsterdam. People have automatically expressed their thoughts on how much of a disgrace Amsterdam is because of not only legalizing marijuana and “mushrooms”, but allowing it to be sold to locals and tourists alike. The thought itself was scandalous: people (or in the eyes of anti-cannabis supporters, stoners) from all over the world clamoring to the streets of Amsterdam to buy hashish from over 220 cannabis cafes.

Amsterdam is globally known for its tolerance, as marijuana and mushrooms are not the only things they’re open to. Aside from the picturesque canals and vibrant tulips that are found all around the city, their toleration for prostitution and certain recreational drugs has attracted both curious and adventurous people to escape the confines of modern society and experience freedom, if only temporarily.

 

But this is one of the big misconceptions about Amsterdam. It is actually a place that upholds many laws that are passed throughout the Netherlands. One law is the illegalization of recreational drugs, which also includes marijuana. This may come as a shock for some, but in 1976, a tolerance policy was issued by the Dutch parliament which decriminalized the consumption of marijuana under 5 grams. This led to the opening of businesses across the country of coffee shops, but not the ones we typically see. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are known to sell marijuana and mushrooms in small quantities and mixed in brownies to form the infamous “hash brownies”. Tourists flocked into the city to sample the various flavors of marijuana from the menus these coffee shops would hand to their customers. Business was booming in Amsterdam thanks to the tolerance of marijuana, as weed museums and seed shops sprouting up throughout the years.

 

In 2008, there was a complication in the Netherlands, where smoking was banned in public places. This restriction was imposed in other countries as well, but this posed a problem for coffee shop owners. They argued that their shops would run out of business if it were to be implemented in areas where cannabis was freely sold. As a compromise, smoking was banned in most establishments but coffee shops were fine. As a clarification on the legality of drugs in Amsterdam, all non-medical drugs are illegal including marijuana. But they are classified under two categories. The first are “hard” drugs that are completely banned in the country, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Marijuana and some forms of mushrooms are in a separate class called “soft” drugs and are also illegal, but largely tolerated. Hashish is also a substance with usage that varies from each city.

 

The distinction of tolerated drugs also has strict policies that the city adheres to. The possession of marijuana that is over 5 grams, in below 18 individuals, growing and selling of marijuana without a permit, export and import of product, and possession of hard drugs are all subject to prosecution and can lead to imprisonment. Their relaxed view on marijuana has influenced the tourism of Amsterdam immensely. The tourism in the city has boomed due to foreigners or “drug tourists” purchasing high quality marijuana Amsterdam coffee shops offer compared to their locally grown product, though this is seen as a problem. Amsterdam’s diversity of marijuana strains is another distinguishing factor where connoisseurs from around the world travel to in order to buy. The industry has been widely discussed and evidently criticized. The country’s permissiveness has cost Holland to pay a fine for allowing such drug usage to occur. This was due to pressure from surrounding countries that have “abided” their laws in banning the selling and use of marijuana. It is an interesting concept, given the fact that France has a higher drug-related death rate compared to cities such as Holland and Amsterdam who have permitted the use of marijuana.

 

A recent policy was also passed that required marijuana users to have a “weed pass”, certifying that the person is a Dutch citizen and is of legal age to use marijuana. This pass has been used in bordering countries of the Netherlands because of the influx of tourists from neighboring countries that are only visiting the country for marijuana. Destination cities such as Amsterdam and Holland have trashed this policy, citing it as being bad for business and therefore not requiring any pass other than identification that the person is of legal age to use marijuana. The Dutch parliament has not forced this upon its states as the larger cities continue to ignore this requirement.

 

The Dutch standard of allowing the distribution and sale of marijuana is a tricky one. Although officials turn a blind eye to selling cannabis, the growing and supplication of the plant still holds an illegal status as the Dutch are prohibited from growing it themselves. This paves the way for illegal activity to occur by purchasing the plant from criminal syndicates. Although this is tolerated in Amsterdam, there is a mounting pressure from other countries to ban growing and eventually selling cannabis. Apart from this looming problem, the Netherlands has paved the way to better understand the use of drugs of all kinds, which has benefited the country and its people.

 

Because of the country’s views and actions toward harm reduction, treatment of drug-related issues is easy to access. It has also reduced criminal activity, as citizens are no longer sentenced for nonviolent or harmful activity. The harm reduction measures also lowered drug-related fatalities and recent HIV infections were no longer reported because of proper education and management through prevention and awareness in needle use. The Dutch have benefited from their unique take on illicit drugs as they experience lower criminal activity and a significant number of “drug tourists” who enter Amsterdam for marijuana are from neighboring countries like Germany and France. Although drug tourists and criminal syndicates still pose a problem with the distribution of marijuana, Amsterdam has moved forward in addressing issues relate to drug classification and use.

How Legalization Could Work

Marijuana and its supporters are still in an ongoing battle for its legalization. Although many countries are vehemently banning the plant, there is an apparent change of tides in the United States. Colorado and Washington are the first states to declare the decriminalization and legal distribution of medical marijuana, while Oregon and Alaska have followed suit a few years later. This has been a major improvement from the decades where marijuana use was thought to precede violence and even rape. These ridiculous allegations have been thwarted by scientific evidence that suggests cannabis’ possible contributions to healthcare and science. Today’s views on marijuana are indeed different from 80 years ago, but there is still a long way to go before people of legal age are able to use cannabis without repercussions.

 

It is predicted that in the next few years, other states will join in on the fight against marijuana legalization. States such as California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, Hawaii, and even Missouri are showing great interest in following Colorado’s lead in legalizing marijuana. Supporters are hopeful that the following states will give the needed push for the rest of the US to follow suit. The legalization can pave the way for more extensive and innovative research to be made which will prove its efficacy in treating diseases and improving a person’s way of life.

 

If one of the most influential countries in the world will legalize cannabis, there is a large possibility that other nations will follow suit. Of course, there are other countries that have legalized marijuana aside from the Netherlands and a few states in the US. Canada, Nepal, North Korea, Peru, Russia, and Switzerland are just some of the countries that have either previously or just recently (in the case of Jamaica) decriminalized marijuana. Its legalization has been growing in such a way that even Spain plays host to over 500 “cannabis clubs” and is dubbed as the next Amsterdam with its legal growing and selling of the plant. There are even more countries that still see marijuana as a threat, but the possibility of the United States legalizing marijuana might influence other countries to follow in their lead.

 

The movement in legalizing marijuana has gradually come to life as a huge portion of the US population having already tried using pot and vote for its legalization. About one in ten Americans admit to have used cannabis in their lives and around 6% of the population uses it regularly despite being labeled as a Schedule I drug. A country’s population holds the power to either continue their criminalization of marijuana or realize the benefits it could bring not just for recreational use but for medical purposes as well. Evidence is another factor that could determine cannabis’ potential legalization. Although medical studies are still at their initial stages and testimonials aren’t formidable in the eyes of medical practitioners, another component holds a crucial role in the validation of marijuana use. Statistics might just be numbers for some, but they are actually the key that helps us understand the population. It is beneficial in justifying the harmlessness cannabis poses on a person and the people around him/her. With statistics we can better understand possible trends in using cannabis and its implications. From there, experts can assert that even criminal activity is lowered as shown by other legalized areas and the positive effects it could have on the federal government especially in cutting costs for better more deserving programs. They even show that not one person has died from using marijuana, but we can’t say the same for nicotine and alcohol.

Hypocrisy has surrounded cannabis since its criminalization in the 1930’s. Being surrounded by propagandas that say “marijuana kills” can understandably direct a person’s thoughts to relate and practice that notion. But today we are able to use science and technology to our advantage in better understanding things. We are allowed to ask why and how things work, instead of merely nodding and accepting information without any qualms. That type of understanding is confining and in the past because of the growing support for a plant that has changed the world since its first written account in China. Since then marijuana has been one of the most misunderstood plants in history because of one side effect that can be scientifically altered.

 

It’s time for society to face the facts: cannabis is a safe substance. It does far less damage than tobacco and alcohol, which we sell readily in convenience stores across the globe. But why can’t a person relax at home and smoke cannabis without thinking about getting arrested for doing something that isn’t harming anyone? A lot of hate is placed on the plant but endless commercials pop on our television screens which glorify smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. A change of perception needs to take place, and proper education is the answer to understanding marijuana. Instead of directly labeling something as bad, knowing the facts prior to that can save a lot more time, energy, and money. The same thing goes with cannabis. Understanding its uses has not only proven beneficial, but it can also lead to future successes in science as well as being a great move for the federal government in terms of costs and even earning money once marijuana is taxed.

 

There is no guarantee as to whether or not marijuana use will increase once it is legalized, no one can know for sure. But once certain measures are taken to ensure that the plant is consumed within safe parameters then there is no reason to ban it. Cannabis shouldn’t be seen as an enemy, but rather as an opportunity. Cannabis is the chance for people to live better lives and to improve the economy through business and innovation. This plant may have had a bad reputation in the past but it has proven to be one of the most powerful substances in history.

 

THIS WAS A GUEST WRITTEN POST FOR CORPORATECHRIST.CO.UK