I am a product of the DARE education system. I signed a pledge card in 5th grade vowing to never use drugs, and I have more than followed through on that pledge. In fact, not only have I avoided illegal drugs, but I have avoided most legal substances, as well. By the grace of God, I have never consumed alcohol, I can count the number of tylenols/ibuprofens/over-the-counter-pain-relief that I have taken on one hand, I have never taken a prescription drug (that I can recall), and I have definitely never touched marijuana.
Even though this popular herb has never entered my lungs/body (first hand), I may be one of the biggest supporters of its free use, especially for medicinal means. There is an overwhelming amount of information I could cover here, and so many different paths from which to approach this conversation. So I have decided to let the philosophies of permaculture guide my outline. Permaculture thrives on the most natural or simplistic way of living and seeks abundance for humanity and earth, alike. I believe in living an abundant life, and so I will attempt to address this debate from the most holistic point of view possible.
From a health perspective.
- Pain & Nausea Relief.
- Cannabis has been proven to help with pain relief and nausea. It is especially helpful for cancer patients, HIV patients, and those suffering with chronic pain like peripheral neuropathy or other neuropathic pains. I love this website that collects scientific peer reviewed articles regarding medicinal marijuana. The page I am linking shares information on how cannabis can be used for pain management and even aid in healing diseases like Cancer, ALS, Huntington’s, Bi Polar, Parkinson’s, and many others!
- Comparison to other TOTALLY LEGAL medications. (Beware, I am about to step onto my soap boxes…)
- Legalized Pharmaceuticals. Opiate use and addiction is one of the fastest growing concerns among our youth today. There are SO many numbers and statistics I could throw out here, but I am including just a few…
- “In an eight year study comparing the number of deaths from marijuana use to seventeen FDA approved drugs conducted from January 1st, 1997 to June 30, 2005, showed zero direct deaths from marijuana and 11,687 from the seventeen FDA approved drugs.” –Van Isle Medical Marijuana.
- “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.” — National Cancer Institute
- “Unlike many of the drugs we prescribe every day, marijuana has never been proven to cause a fatal overdose.” — Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon GeneralSome of these quotes were found on this website. which is full of other great quotes regarding this topic.
- Alcohol is legal? Pot is not? Do I really need to cover the level of stupidity this fact reveals about our national policies and beliefs? Alcohol has done so much damage to the framework of society, that I cannot fully elucidate my disdain for this drug. It is highly addictive and terrible for a human’s health. And when it isn’t an assisting substance to murder, rape, abuse, suicide, destructive behavior, and death, it is drop by drop aiding to diseases, lowered mental capabilities, and cell damage. There is arguably no point at which alcohol is healthy for our bodies. And while we encourage people to “let loose, and have a drink”, we demonize a person who uses a non-addictive substance, like cannabis, to relieve constant pain or aid their general health. **note the glass of wine a day is “healthy”…no. It is the grape juice that makes it so healthy, and some fermentation in our lives in extremely low doses, can be healthy. However, the “healthy” part of wine is NOT the alcohol. Wine can be healthy, in spite of the alcohol, but would be healthier, without.**
- Tobacco. Really? Please don’t make me explain how tobacco being legal negates all arguments for cannabis being illegal. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, who wrote the article, “Why I Changed my Mind on Weed”, explains that some people about 9-10% of all users show signs of addiction to weed. This addiction can be determined through signs of withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety, and nausea, but there has not been a documented case of death by marijuana addiction. He also writes that tobacco hooks about 30% of all users, many of which die from their need to smoke. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) “[M]ore than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.”
- Seizures and Epilepsy in Children.
- Cannabis is one of the ONLY viable options for children with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and seizures of unknown causes. Brilliant minds have been able to take the THC out of the plant to lower the “high” that comes with cannabis. The CBD portion of the plant is actually showing ability in improving brain function, so not only is this helping these children avoid seizures and pain, but they are seeing progressive mental functions! There is an AMAZING treatment with the marijuana plant named “Charlotte’s Web”, talked about in this TEDtalk by Josh Stanley.
From a spiritual perspective.
- Frontal Lobe.
- Let’s speak frankly. Any substance that effects the frontal lobe is a substance that can have a spiritual implication. I believe that the fogginess or cloudiness that comes with the use of marijuana can ABSOLUTELY be detrimental to one’s quest to know God and focus on spiritual growth. However, there are certain strains of the herb that do not leave such a dense fog or high. In addition, if the pain one is experiencing is so distracting and debilitating, I cannot see how a natural, safe, and non-addictive herb would not be a better solution than living with the pain or taking a more dangerous medicine.
- There are religions which include marijuana as a form of worship or a “higher” experience with God. I do not agree with this stance, as I find a self inflicted “high” to be unbiblical, and yet, when a person is able to control the amount and the variety used, in order to experience clarity without the high, I would be willing to argue they are more able to commune with God in a state of comfort.
- As a follower of Christ, I must recognize His undeniable focus on free will and the protection of it. Christ never forced anyone, love cannot force, it can only convince and persuade through its actions. From this point of view, I believe that as Christians, we should allow people to make their own decisions (so long as they are not harming another living being or their free-will), and instead of “banning” bad decisions, we should focus on educating society so that they can make better decisions. Better decisions, which, admittedly, in some cases, includes avoiding this substance. Some truth is always good for our free-wills…
- Overall, while marijuana would definitely not classify as a spiritual need, I do believe it can be used as a healthy form of medicine. We are meant to take care of our bodies and our minds, and that often means abstaining from substances which affect the frontal lobe. However, if pain or disease are present in a person, I fully believe marijuana is most often the best choice. It was created by God, and its power can be misused and also properly used. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ,
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
From a political perspective.
- Conservative vs. Liberal.
- I find myself avoiding politics more and more everyday, especially as I realize the Democratic/Republican system is faulty, polarizing, and corrupt. (But this is not a blog about my budding libertarian/moderate/anarchist views ;)) I really hate that this has become a conservative vs. liberal battle. This is a plant that can be used poorly and likewise, can be used for immense goodness. Conservative thinkers and liberal thinkers throughout history have taken puffs on a joint and while we love to create stereotypes of the “type” of person that uses pot, they are myopic and often erroneous. When it comes to health, the bounds of politics should not be considered. Does medical marijuana have health benefits? Yes! Can it benefit industry? Yes! Can it benefit humanity? Yes!
- A super quick case for cannabis…
- Government control.
- The process of demonizing cannabis was a fairly recent phenomenon, and it is one of many freedoms we have seen slowly disappear. This video does a great job showing some of the government control that has come as a result of our country’s war on weed.
- In speaking of confusing government control tactics, it is interesting to note that our government classifies cannabis as a “Schedule 1” drug. There are many meanings to this categorization, including that it has NO medical benefits. Meanwhile, the government also holds a patent for the medical use of the plant. The patent states, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
- Police/Citizen relations.
- I believe cannabis is one of many factors that have divided the police force from the general public. Now, I am extremely grateful for the presence and influence of our police force and the selflessness with which the vast majority serve our country. However, the war on drugs has created trouble because it seems like marijuana violations have been rising, and are punished akin to much grander violations like operating with more dangerous drugs, murder, robbery, or rape. According to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010, 52% of all drug busts were marijuana related, and 88% of those arrests were not major drug dealers, but rather everyday citizens with their own marijuana. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YWe5kjG35M
From a business/fiscal perspective.
- Cannabis usage costs far less than money spent on synthetic drugs. Why? Cannabis is natural, and while it takes about 6 months, a well run facility, and lots of tender loving care, for a cannabis plant to reach maturity, it takes far more man-hours in a laboratory, scientific testing, marketing, building and packaging to create a pill than it does to create oils, powders, and herbs from the marijuana plant.
- This would be a HUGE and highly successful industry to add to our economy. It is essentially a farming industry and a new marketing field. It would utilize many different talents, from the soil the plant needs to be grown in, to the lights it needs, to the care and the knowledge that can be gained and passed through its caretakers. There are SO many job possibilities that can be created by adding this industry, and the jobs that would be hindered, like law enforcement and big pharma, would not be taking a great hit. Law enforcement has MORE than enough to deal with, without the war on weed, and (believe it or not) big pharma could probably handle a significant cut to their cash flow. Another quick video for you 🙂
- Drug Industry.
- By making this plant illegal we are supporting a deep and dangerous drug industry. This is a dark industry here in the states, but it is far worse in Mexico and other South American countries. To put it simply, by legalizing this herb we would put a lot of very terrible men and women out of business. Yes, many of these evil hearts would find another way to illegally make money, but at least we, as a country and society, wouldn’t be supporting their under-handed activities so markedly. The Culture High, a documentary about legalizing mariuana covers this topic very well.
From a natural perspective.
- Natural plant.
- I think there is so much about the natural world that we have not become aware of, yet. We are learning more and more everyday about how the plants that surround us are actually usable and beneficial to us or the environment. My faith causes me to believe that EVERYTHING created by God was created for a reason. We might not be able to determine all of the reasons, but in the case of this amazing plant, I HAVE to believe that God wanted us to utilize its mind-blowing abilities. So yes, because it is a natural, I tend to put more trust in it. I like being able to pronounce ingredients or at least have some idea of how/where they are derived. When substances are mutilated, combined, and/or scientifically created in a lab and then patented, like more pharmaceutical drugs, I have a really hard time trusting them. This is not to say that ALL pharmaceutical creations are untrustworthy, but rather that if we have a natural option, I believe that should be our first choice.
- I love the idea that cannabis uses the earth and all of it’s affordances more than relying on scientific labs to create a bunch of synthetic material. I believe its growing, marketing, and waste processes are much less detrimental to the planet, than heavy pharmaceuticals.
- The Future. In addition to what we already know about cannabis, I am hopeful for the research and studies that are continuing to shed light on its amazing qualities. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains,
“Looking forward, I am especially intrigued by studies like those in Spain and Israel looking at the anti-cancer effects of marijuana and its components. I’m intrigued by the neuro-protective study by Raphael Meschoulam in Israel, and research in Israel and the United States on whether the drug might help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. I promise to do my part to help, genuinely and honestly, fill the remaining void in our knowledge.”
From a personal perspective.
- Unfortunately this is the type of discussion that can cause both societal judgement and legal trouble. So, I will not be naming names. However, I have seen a large variety of amazing and upstanding citizens (not your typical “potheads”) use marijuana for its undeniable health benefits. I am stepping out as someone who has never used marijuana to talk about it from an outsider’s perspective. I have seen people in the midst of cancer or suffering from the residual effects of cancer greatly benefitted by this herb. I have seen it help anxiety and depression. I have seen it used as a part of cancer treatments and as a salve for increased healing and pain management. I have seen it help in cases of neuropathy and undistinguished chronic pain. The ways it can be used are numerous and well documented, but these are only the cases I have personally witnessed. So, all this is to say, open your mind, weigh the pros and cons, give Mary Jane some genuine consideration and possibly your support in this controversial battle.