Thank you for taking the time to learn more about cannabis with me. This blog is for all my friends and family who may see my #CannabisCovers project and think, “Oh no, weed is bad!” I am writing this educational article to better inform you guys about the cannabis industry and how it is helping our society, rather than hurting it. With these cover videos, I’d like to show the world how this plant helps create beautiful things. I guess you can say I am officially coming out of the “Cannabis closet.” I decided it was time, because I’d like to make cannabis activism an integral part of my music and art, and because cannabis just became recreationally legal in California on January 1st!
The first time I tried smoking cannabis was my first year of college (after doing vast research on it, the little nerd I am). I maintained all A’s and B’s in college, despite my cannabis use (okay, fine, I got one C!). I think my good grades prove cannabis doesn’t necessarily turn you into a typical “lazy stoner.” Laziness is on you, not the plant. After these past four years of having cannabis in my life, I have come to quite a few realizations. One of these realizations is I am more of an anxious person than I would ever have liked to admit to myself, but cannabis helps me relax. Another realization (which came mostly from my classes at USC) is cannabis is not illegal because it is a “destructive drug,” it is illegal because certain powers that be--the paper industry, for example--have lobbied to keep marijuana illegal for their own financial interests. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind the legality of cannabis.
History of Cannabis and Legality
Hemp could destroy the paper industry, along with many other industries, throwing off the world’s current power balance. Cannabis didn’t become illegal in America until the 1930s. In fact, in 1619, the “colony of Jamestown passed a legislation forcing all the settlers to grow marijuana.”1 So, what happened? Around the time of the Great Depression, Americans were getting upset with the amount of Mexican immigrants coming into the country. These immigrants had brought with them the culture of recreationally smoking “Marijuana” (this term was created to make the plant sound more evil and Mexican, which is why I usually refer to the plant as cannabis).
During the Great Depression, “massive unemployment increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana. This instigated a flurry of research which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by ‘racially inferior’ or underclass communities.”2
Marijuana was associated with minority crime, as it still is today, yet studies have shown Marijuana actually makes people less aggressive.3 Who was behind the fake news stories and research about “Marijuana crimes”? The Hearst Paper company-- owners of the newspapers at the time. William Randolph Hearst and Dupont Corporation “stood to lose billions from the potential industrialization of hemp. Hearst owned vast acres of timber for his publishing company while Dupont was trying to patent new technology to process wood into pulp paper; the industrial use of hemp would have rendered their paper products obsolete.”4
Around this same time, Henry Anslinger, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, received responses from 30 scientists on whether marijuana should be illegal. Only one of them responded “yes.” Anslinger took that one “yes” and popularized the idea that smoking weed would make you insane. “Reefer Madness” turned America against cannabis. If you’d like to read more on this story, click here.
So, there you have a very short history on why you may have a negative worldview on cannabis. Now, let me show you why you should change that worldview.
**Side note: For anyone with a negative view on cannabis because of your religion, let me ask you this: If God supposedly does not want you to smoke weed, why did he create the Cannabis plant? It is a part of God’s creation, is it not? Something to think about.
**As a disclaimer, I do agree with the legislation regarding cannabis being regulated, as alcohol is, to have an age limit. There is research showing slower brain development when cannabis is consumed as a child, so if you’re a youngin’ who is reading this, keep in mind that cannabis must be used responsibly, as an adult.
CARRYING ON :)
Cannabis v. Alcohol
I have never been a huge drinker, as I prefer smoking some herb with friends rather than getting sh*t-faced at a party. I lose control of myself when I’ve had too much alcohol, something that doesn’t happen with cannabis. With cannabis, I usually feel ultra creative and philosophical (from Cannabis Sativa), or relaxed and hungry (from Cannabis Indica).
This brings me to my first point on why cannabis should be normalized: “An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.”5 Cannabis has caused zero deaths in the history of ever, yet somehow it is illegal in most parts of the world.
If nothing else, should cannabis not be more legal than alcohol, if these are the facts? Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than cannabis, but somehow we have accepted it as our favorite social pastime. In addition, alcohol has proven to be more of a “gateway drug” than cannabis. According to American Addiction Centers, “of alcohol users, nearly 66 percent indicated it was the first substance used.”6 The second substance listed as “first substance used” was tobacco, at 24%. While marijuana has been bashed for being the “gateway drug,” it is not always the first substance people experiment with. Alcohol deserves the bad reputation of being the gateway drug, because as I previously mentioned, I feel much more out of control with alcohol than with marijuana, meaning I could be way more susceptible to trying other substances when drunk than if I smoked a little weed.
Cannabis as Medicine
My second point on why cannabis should be fully legalized and normalized is cannabis can actually save lives. Cannabis has been known to treat cancer patients’ pain, multiple sclerosis patients’ spasms, asthma, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and loss of appetite in HIV patients.7 Cannabis also treats PTSD, according to the firsthand accounts of these Veterans smoking pot in a Facebook video.
According to a JAMA study, cannabis was found to primarily ease patients’ chronic pain. Most people with chronic pain currently take prescription painkillers, but “prescription painkillers are highly addictive and deadly -- they killed more than 16,000 people in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest numbers.”8
This is why I say cannabis could save lives: if people with chronic pain turned to cannabis for pain relief as opposed to prescription painkillers, there would be substantially less deaths caused by drug overdoses every year. It’s already happening in Colorado! If you’d like to read a beautiful story about how cannabis saved a 14 year old boy’s life, click here.
This was a quick review of cannabis for all those who didn’t know too much. I didn’t cover nearly everything I could have, but if you’d like to know more, do your own research, or feel free to ask me questions and I will do my best to find the answers. ☺ All of my references are attached below if you’d like to read further.
Here are a few fun facts:
“Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the country's first hemp activist, encouraging farmers to grow hemp instead of tobacco.”9
“George Washington grew cannabis in his backyard for medical use according to his statement.”10
“From one hectare cannabis you can produce four times more paper than with one hectare of timber.”10
Click here to watch my first Cannabis Cover video!