Marijuana is...self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?
P. J. O'Rourke, writer and humorist
Cannabis sativa is how botanists know it, but many others know it from its Mexican colloquial name Marijuana. In Africa it’s known as dagga, in China as ma in northern Europe as hemp, in India as bhang, ganja and charas. I bring this up because this week, I have seen two articles on the medicinal benefits of marijuana regarding tests on mice and that the active ingredient in the drug is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which may have a role in combating heart disease and strokes, according to a in the last week’s Nature by Sabine Steffen of Geneva University Hospital.
These articles in The Economist and The Los Angeles Times as well as the in-depth article in the book “Reefer Madness, Sex Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market” by Eric Schlosser author of Fast Food Nation, inspired this post. According to Schlosser’s book (which is well worth reading and most of what follows is from his book), there is a lot of racial prejudice behind laws against marijuana, and surprisingly not because of black jazz musicians, but because of Mexican immigrants during political upheaval in Mexico in 1910.
Hemp goes all the way back to the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who grew the crop on their plantations. The plant’s fibers were used to make sails and riggings, and its byproducts were turned into oakum for the caulking of wooden ships.
In the latter half of the 19th Century marijuana became a popular ingredient in patent medicines and was sold openly at pharmacies in one-ounce herbal packages and alcohol-based tinctures, as a cure for migraines, rheumatism, and insomnia. Dr. Browns’s Sedative Tablets contained marijuana, as did Eli Lilly’s One Day Cough Cure.
President Richard Nixon appointed a bipartisan commission to study the health effects, legal status and social impact of marijuana. The commission found that possessing small amounts of marijuana in the home should no longer be a crime. Growing, selling, using in public or driving should all remain criminal. Nixon felt betrayed by the commission and rejected its findings and privately blamed the agitation of marijuana law reform on the jews.
President Ronald Reagan endorsed the view that marijuana “is probably the most dangerous drug in America today.” He appointed Carlton Tuner head of the White House Drug Abuse Policy office. Turner thought that marijuana use linked to anti-military, anti-nuclear power, anti-big business demonstrations. He also thought that smoking pot could turn young men into homosexuals.
Today drug manufacturing companies are rolling in cash as they charge high prices for drugs that often help us, but also have some terrible side affects – such as death – just ask Pfizer about the deaths linked to Celebrex.
Although the misuse of over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and antihistamines kills thousands of people every year, not a single death has ever been credibly attributed directly to smoking or consuming marijuana in the 5,000 years of the plant’s recorded use.
There have been few large-scale studies about marijuana because and this is a huge reason – the marijuana plant cannot be patented. Therefore, corporations that back research are more interested in establishing the drug’s harmful effects rather than helping people find an economic cure.