Posted April 5, 2013 by evergreen-culture in Advocacy

Why We Don’t “Use” Marijuana


e grew up children of the 80′s. That means that we experienced the full force of the Reagan era. As a kid, “Just Say No” was heard or seen almost daily as I attended countless classes, discussions, and cheesy school assemblies that attempted to drive into us the dangers of drugs, especially the “evil weed” marijuana. They, educators and counselors, taught us – with the best of intentions I have to believe – that drugs were dangerous and that staying away from them was the best course for success. Overall, not a bad program nor something that wasn’t needed to a certain degree when it came to a lot of dangerous trends that were peaking then such as crack cocaine. The issue was that marijuana took center stage as “potentially the most dangerous drug on the face of the planet” according to old Ronnie. And since it was considered such a dangerous drug, the people who consumed it were referred to as “users”. You see, you “smoke” or “chew” tobacco, you “drink” alcohol, but you “use” marijuana.

Let us first just hit on the level of understanding and modern scientific inquiry that “The Gipper” demonstrated during that little speech. None. Even if you go back to 1980 when we was elected, there were studies – some commissioned by the U.S. Government – that stated in no uncertain terms that marijuana was not dangerous and posed less health and social risks than either tobacco or alcohol. Those who actually looked into this plant at the time knew this then – it just didn’t serve the political environment at the time and thus, once again, the rights of Americans were determined more by what politicians believed would get them elected, not by what made sense. Even if you excuse the lack of information that was publicly available 30 years ago (no Internet and all), today you literally can get the skinny on the latest tests, studies and understanding in seconds on a device that you likely have with you at all times.

So, here is the problem. We have new understanding, scientific research that not only shows that cannabis is far less dangerous than many of the substances that the government says are healthy and legal, but we continue to cling to old terminology and thinking. It would seem that part of the issue when it comes to the general lack of modern, factual takes on marijuana by the general public is due to the fact that we have not adjusted the vocabulary we use in reference to this plant. We still call it a “drug” and people still “use” it. However, if it is medicine (for some), or a recreational substance (like alcohol or tobacco), then shouldn’t we begin talking about cannabis in more correct terms. When we hear of someone “using a drug” we think of someone doing meth or heroin or snorting a line of cocaine or popping some pills or sipping some codeine-laced cough syrup. I don’t think of someone vaporizing some marijuana, smoking a joint, hitting a bong or eating a pot brownie. Does it effect you, elevating your mood and making you feel good? Yep. So does coffee every damn morning/afternoon for us. So do cigarettes or cigars or chew to people who choose to consume tobacco. So does a glass of wine or a beer or a cocktail for those who choose to partake, legally I might add, of alcoholic beverages. We don’t say, “do you use alcohol”. That would put alcohol into the same category as addictive and socially dangerous drugs that could ruin your life (See what we did there?). Today, in reality, ¬†virtually everyone looks at alcohol in that light today because years of experience, scientific studies, and social impact data have revealed it to be one of the most damaging substances in our culture today – and yes, marijuana was included in those comparisons. In fact, many studies speak of marijuana as not only less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, but far less dangerous and dependence-building than many of the prescription medications that multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies pay huge sums of money to have drugs pushed through federal approval and then pushed on you by your doctor.

We don’t “use” marijuana. We consume it in various ways, sure. But we don’t “use” drugs. We vaporize, smoke and eat a dried flower that grows on a plant that has evolved alongside humanity in some very startling ways for millions of years. We literally have a system in our bodies that not only produced many of the same cannabinoid compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant (and only the cannabis plant by the way), but also serve as receptors for cannabinoids that allow cannabis to work its magic on our minds and bodies – evening out moods, stimulating appetite, controlling seizures, dealing with nausea, relieving pain, and the list goes on and on (read more about this reality here). Study after study even reveals that cannabis has some mysterious abilities when it comes to preventing and treating certain cancerous growths – a list only limited by the pace at which science progresses through innovation, acceptance and, of course, funding. We are more than confident that it will only be found to be more beneficial to humanity as social acceptance pushes cannabis more into the mainstream of scientific research and inquiry. Socially, marijuana is far less destructive than alcohol. There is a reason you don’t hear of someone smoking a joint and then beating up his wife and kids. It doesn’t happen. However, it happens thousands of times daily across the country as addicts head home from the bar drunk – that is if they don’t kill someone or themselves along the way in their car. And yet, people don’t say they “use” alcohol.

Here’s the bottom line. Unless you want to start speaking of substances like alcohol, tobacco, and coffee using the same vocabulary you would for heroin, cocaine, opium, meth, and crack, you can’t continue speaking of marijuana with these terms. We live in a time when so much info is available, and yet no one seems to be reading it. And so, we are in a state of social and state opinion lagging behind actual facts and scientific results by decades – with people suffering and having their lives ruined because of it. Don’t be one of those people. We don’t care if you start consuming marijuana in the least, and we are not suggesting that it is “harmless” or has zero things to consider. What out there could you say that of?! But if you want to hold onto a “Just Say No” mentality when it comes to cannabis, you are putting yourself into a category of ignorance, and that has never served our society. Just ask women and people of non-white ethnic backgrounds or same-sex couples. These other social issues serve as examples of thinking that we (the vast majority of us thinking people anyway) would now consider “backwards”, “ignorant”, and “stupid”, true? So why would we want to be like that with any other issue when a vast supply of modern-day evidence exists to bring us up to speed on what is really going on?

Be informed and stay lifted.

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