Marijuana: the medicine, the misinformation, and the legality

James Harkness

Guest Writer

April 20, 2017


Reefer, pot, weed, or even the somewhat menacing devil’s lettuce are all terms many of us are familiar with. So many names given to the plant more formally known as marijuana, or cannabis (whichever rolls off your tongue nicer). Though native to Asian climates, marijuana, and its cousin hemp, are known for their remarkable ability to grow and thrive in a variety of climates. Until its recent illegalization, marijuana has been used for thousands of years, possibly even predating alcohol (the research is scarce on this topic). But now, due to a series of misguided, ineffective, and racist laws, marijuana has become federally illegal.

This article isn’t meant to be a history lesson, but a quick Google search will reveal the truth about why cannabis is illegal. Let’s put it this way; the D.A.R.E. program many of us were subjected to in grade school is now under a lot of scrutiny for spreading misguided information about drug use and prevention. Don’t get me wrong, drugs should be avoided at all costs, especially for any recreational value they hold, and many drugs are extremely dangerous. However, tossing marijuana into the same category of drugs that supposedly “fry your brain” is unfair and extremely inaccurate. I’m sure you’ve heard that there has never been a single death attributed to weed… ever. And remember, marijuana has been around for thousands of years.

This article isn’t meant to glorify the recreational value of cannabis either. However, the fact that cigarettes and alcohol are not only legal, but socially acceptable while cannabis is frowned upon boggles my mind. Oh yeah, it’s perfectly fine to get drunk and bash someone’s face in with a baseball bat and chief on cigs until you’re speaking through a hole in your throat. But Heaven forbid somebody enjoys some cannabis, giggling to movies no sober-minded person would enjoy, minding his own business. Not to mention there are numerous health benefits to marijuana consumption that alcohol and cigarettes simply do not share. One, for example, is bronchial dilation. Essentially this means that marijuana opens up your airways in a way similar to that of an inhaler, allowing for deeper, more fulfilling breaths. The bronchial dilation also aids in cleaning the lungs, which some researchers speculate contributes to why lung cancer isn’t found in marijuana-only smokers.

There isn’t enough paper in the world to explain the medicinal benefits of marijuana. From treating/killing cancer cells to stopping seizures in its tracks, cannabis has medicinal worth equal to or greater than that of commonly prescribed and dangerous medications like opiates. Cannabis is also far less addictive and not physically harmful.

Unfortunately, despite a societal and stately shift towards a more progressive approach to marijuana, it still remains illegal under federal law. This creates a strange and unprecedented environment in states where it’s legal to sell and consume. Though they have an efficiency rate of less than 1%, the D.E.A. still dedicates numerous resources and tax money to catch these “criminals” who are breaking federal law.

This article wasn’t meant to sway opinion one way or another, but it was rather an effort to separate myth from reality.


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