Marijuana isn’t a legal substance to grow or possess in much of the United States. Some states have legalized its medical use, but continue to face issues with the federal government disregarding their state laws. In Mississippi, where I currently live, it is definitely not a legal substance.
In talking to various friends and acquaintances lately in regards to long term pain management, the differences between states became blatantly apparent in regards to the use of marijuana for this purpose. Using it for pain management is in some ways far different than using it for recreational reasons. Many people who had never experimented with it in their “younger days” use it in their middle age for pain management. Even those who have used it for recreational reasons tell me that the type of marijuana available in “medical grade” is far different from the street version, as well as more expensive.
The reasons people have for not supporting the legalization of marijuana are all things that they believe to be true. But, when you really look at the reason, is it really true?
One reason is that people believe that many doctors will frivolously pass out prescriptions for marijuana. This is true, otherwise we wouldn’t have any doctors ever disciplined for their prescribing habits through state medical boards. On the other hand, is it really so common that it is going to be a wide spread problem? How does frivolous marijuana prescriptions compare to the other types of frivolously prescribed medication compare? I don’t think that it is going to be as big of a problem as many people fear, mostly because of the restrictions that are placed on when and where marijuana is used by the patient. These typically are things like not using it before driving or while in a motor vehicle, not in public, etc. Possessing it ceases to be a crime with the prescription, which allows them to take it with them while traveling, have it in their home, etc.
Other people believe that it will result in widespread addiction to marijuana. Marijuana isn’t an addictive substance, this has been well documented in scientific research. It is, however, like almost everything on earth, potentially psychologically addictive. It’s a lot less addictive than most prescription painkillers, as well as having far fewer side effects.
Others fear that it will increase the number of people who use it as a recreational drug. There isn’t anything to support this, and many people who currently indulge in marijuana use may stop using it entirely because of the loss of the thrill of escaping detection. For those that already use it as a recreational drug, buying it through a legal source would mean that it is taxed, increasing revenue for local, state and federal programs of all kinds, from education to road construction.
Others believe that it is going to increase crime. In reality, this has been proven incorrect by American history. The Prohibition Era saw the rise of organized crime to unprecedented levels as the sale of alcohol funded their entire organization. The same thing is true today with marijuana and other drugs. By removing marijuana from their product offerings, we are removing one of their biggest income sources and turning it into a legitimate crop that both large and small farmers can raise and market legally. These farmers, processing companies, and even marketing companies will then employ more people, pay more taxes, and help fuel a stagnating economy with a product that is legally produced and sold. It is highly doubtful that we’ll see a sudden arrival of “marijuana booths” in local farmer’s markets any more than we see “tobacco booths” today, for largely the same reasons.
Others regard legalizing marijuana as tantamount to admitting defeat in the “War on Drugs” as marijuana has always been regarded as a drug. Whether we admit defeat or not, it’s blatantly obvious that our “War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure as organized criminal gangs continue their home invasions, robberies, murders, assassinations, and kidnappings along the Mexican border, on both sides of that border. Once again, by removing one of their primary sources of income, we will succeed in making business more difficult for them to conduct. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have another legal “Made in America” product, in this case, raised in America product?
Marijuana production, especially for the medical trade, is perfectly suited to the small family farm as well, since it is a much more labor intensive crop than raising most current agricultural crops. It would also yield higher profits per acre, making the family farm a profitable enterprise, and saving the family farms from extinction in the current climate of agribusiness and corporate farms. Saving the family farm would preserve the same family values that our entire country was founded on, rather than destroying them, which is what many people’s fears of the legalization of marijuana are. Creating more jobs in rural areas where it is produced by locating the plants to process and package the marijuana for sale would also help preserve this same traditional family value concept, as rural areas are always struggling to keep jobs and their economies alive.
People are not going to become marijuana addicts just because it is legal to buy, possess and use marijuana any more than everyone over 21 is an alcoholic or smokes tobacco, both of which are legal and have far more known side effects to their use than marijuana does. Far fewer people, according to current research, are likely to become belligerent, aggressive, or violent when using marijuana when compared to using alcohol. While most research indicates that marijuana does not contain carcinogens, even if it does, it contains far fewer than tobacco does, and tobacco is also addictive.
So why IS there so much opposition to the legalizing of marijuana?
I believe that the Big Pharma companies are one of the sources behind it. If a simple solution such as marijuana use, which can also be grown at home by the patient and easily processed into the usable form without a laboratory, pharmaceutical companies will lose a substantial portion of their current giant-sized income on the sale and marketing of prescription pain killers and the drugs that are used to counteract their side effects.
These giant corporations can lobby Congress and state legislatures in opposition of the legalization process. It’s simply good business to them, while thousands of people are left in a position to use other solutions to long term pain management, nausea, etc. that make them even more money while providing less effective relief and more side effects for the patient. It’s the same lobbying effect that makes herbal and wholistic treatment of medical conditions difficult, if not impossible, as these entities lean on the FDA for more regulations each year. What better way to ensure that your company makes more money than by eliminating the competition from the scenario?
These same companies prey on the public, turning the issue from a simple herbal solution to a loud protest about the idea, encouraging their opposition. They paint pictures of derelict addicts neglecting their children, spouses, and jobs to smoke one joint after another. They encourage the vision of drivers killing people because they are “high” on marijuana. They lead the public to believe that every doctor will be on the street, hawking their prescriptions for marijuana like it’s the latest edition of the newspaper.
The complete legalizing of marijuana would move it from the jail house evidence room to liquor stores, where it would be available in a variety of brands and varieties. There, it would be sold in packages of twenty like cigarettes with a hefty tax, just like cigarettes and alcohol. Sure, some times, it might be your mechanic, co-worker, or doctor that buys a package to take home on a Friday night, and they may smoke the entire package over the weekend too. But what does that mean on Monday when they come to work again?
It means a lot less than working with someone that has spent the weekend drinking currently legal alcohol. There is no ‘hangover’ effect from marijuana, another research proven fact. That means that they aren’t going to be inattentive and suffering from a headache and nausea. They are less likely to call in “sick” to work on Monday, as well as less likely to make an error while on the job as a result of their weekend’s recreation. Once the “high” effect of marijuana wears off, that is all that results from the previous use of alcohol. There is also research indicating that it has far fewer long term effects than even occasional alcohol use.
So what does this mean for me personally?
Not a whole lot, other than advocating the legalization of marijuana. It isn’t legal in Mississippi where I live, and I do believe in obeying the law. I don’t know if it would be something that would work for me in terms of medical pain management or not. I don’t really have an interest in using it recreationally, but I also don’t drink alcohol very often. I personally don’t see it becoming something that is in widespread use by other people in terms of recreation either, although many people may buy a package just to see what it was all about, smoke one or two, and leave them on the shelf until the dust gathers on them. I would far rather have my car repaired or see a doctor that used marijuana rather than one that was recovering from a weekend party.
What do you think? Do you see marijuana as the downfall of our society, a good source of tax money, a potential “cash crop” or something else?