Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.
Cannabis (commonly called pot, ganja, weed, marijuana, etc.) is the most diversely effective and efficient medicine known to man, with the added benefit of having far less harmful side effects than most prescribed drugs, not being physically addictive, being minimally psychologically addictive and being impossible to overdose on. Unlike most substances approved by the FDA, Nobody has ever died from ingesting cannabis. It is one of the least toxic substances known to man; less toxic than much of the food we eat as well as many non-nutritious substances we consume, especially alcohol, tobacco, and even sugar.
Even more amazingly, studies all around the world have concluded with exponentially growing empirical affirmation that cannabis completely and totally cures cancer. It additionally acts as a preventative, stopping cancer from ever coming back. Don’t believe me? Continue reading, or just ask the US government; they own the patent for cannabis as a successful cure and/or treatment for a whole array of medical conditions.
So why then is cannabis labeled as a schedule 1 drug, or in laymen terms, a dangerous, highly addictive substance devoid of any medical benefit? Tobacco has absolutely no medical benefits, is proven to cause cancer, is proven to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and is one of the most physically and psychologically addictive substances on the planet. However, tobacco, like alcohol, isn’t even scheduled. Additionally, cannabis is scheduled as even more dangerous, more addictive, and less medicinally beneficial then cocaine or methamphetamine, which are labeled as schedule 2 substances. As another example of the illogical scheduling process, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and DMT, which have been proven to be highly effective to cure cluster headaches as well as an invaluable tool in psychotherapy, are labeled as schedule 1 drugs despite these psychedelics having little to no addiction potential. Are you starting to see how silly this is? So what gives?
Let’s walk through this one step at a time. We are going to go over the historical use and legality of cannabis, the current legal status of cannabis around the world, the effects of keeping cannabis and other drugs illegal, and finally, the miraculous medicinal properties of cannabis. Feel free to jump around, but to gain a fully comprehensive understanding of this complex issue, I highly recommend reading all of this information.
Cannabis has an extremely long history of use. Although cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia, it spread all over the world very early in human history. While humans in Taiwan were growing hemp as early as 8,000 BCE, the historical use of cannabis as a physical and psychological medicine began over 5,000 years ago.
Researchers even found over two pounds of still green, highly potent cannabis in a basket near the recently discovered 2700 year old Ice Man. It has been historically used by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and Atheists alike. Cannabis was even used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as in medieval Islamic countries.
Cannabis is a natural human pastime, embedded into our epigenetic expression. It was used for centuries as a form of relaxation, as a tool for meditation during religious ceremonies, and as a way to foster creativity. Additionally, hemp is one of the oldest domesticated plants known. Hemp was used in various industries, optimizing productivity, efficiency, and waste management. Then one day, cannabis and hemp were suddenly seen as cesspools of sin originating from the pits of hell.
To understand the history and legality of cannabis you must also understand the history of hemp. The difference between these plants is that industrial hemp contains little to no THC (meaning it can’t get you high) and is also more fibrous and tough, making it more useful as a productive material. Additionally, hemp seeds are highly nutritious, containing the most easily digestible protein in the world, as well as a nearly perfect ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.
As mentioned above, both plants were used all over the world for various purposes since time immemorial. The plants were brought to the new world for the first time (in Chile) by the Spaniards in 1545. Cannabis seeds may have been brought to Brazil even earlier in the 16th century by African slaves. Cannabis and hemp were used widely in England and America even before the US existed. Both cannabis and hemp were grown in the original colonies by the boat load and exported to international buyers. Hemp was used as a cheap yet high quality textile source for clothing and rope. It was also used to make paper products (the first two copies of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp), dyes, housing, etc. and began gaining prominent use in many other fields as scientific innovation progressed.
Even before the early colonial era, cannabis was used as a highly effective pharmacological agent and was listed as a viable option to cure many ailments. Even today, hemp is considered one of the most important and functionally diverse materials on the planet and would pave the way for incredible innovation and efficiency in more industries than you could probably name if given the legal opportunity (refer to the picture). So why did cannabis and hemp become illegal?
Both hemp and cannabis were made illegal for multiple reasons, but the most prominent reasons were due to money, ignorance, and irrational racism. All around the world cannabis and hemp were being criminalized simply by default; by tossing them in a category with substances that were highly addictive (opium, morphine, etc.). There was no consideration for each substance’s individual pros and cons, and certainly no empirical scientific basis. Anything with even the slightest amount of potential for addiction was just labeled together as a harmful/addictive substance, and that was that. The US took a similar approach.
As the US began to buckle down and ensure that all of their medicine was regulated and safe, they also realized that it would be a good time to help rid the country of addictive substances like opium. Although there wasn’t any serious problem with cannabis abuse, our ancestors figured that once opium and morphine were no longer freely available, people would turn to one of the most readily available and easily procured substances in the country: cannabis. States began arbitrarily tossing it into the growing legislation of criminalized substances, not giving much thought to the actual dangers or potential pit falls of such an action.
In an attempt to make substance regulation laws more uniform, all states were encouraged to regulate cannabis in the same way, essentially handing over control to the federal level. Up until this point cannabis was still legal and available as a medicine; it was simply regulated while its recreational use was criminalized. Then along came Harry Anslinger, the future head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and a nuclear bomb of lies, deceit and propaganda was dropped onto the US and the world at large.
Harry Anslinger Versus Science
Harry Anslinger claimed that cannabis, which he referred to as “marijuana” to incite racial fear and rage, (the word marijuana originates from the Spanish word marihuana, which is Mexican Spanish for cannabis) was the most dangerous and fatal substance ever known to mankind. He developed highly racist rhetoric devoid of any science and contrary to statements made by the American Medical Association at the time. He paraded in front of congress and across the country spouting his ridiculous, unfounded claims. Here are some classic Harry Anslinger quotes actually used as ‘fact’ by prominent newspapers and regurgitated as reasons for stricter cannabis laws by congress in the 1930’s:
There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.
…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.
Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.
Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.
Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.
You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.
Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.
We recognize these claims as utterly ridiculous nowadays, but congress back in the day wasn’t very bright. I guess some things never change.
Anslinger and his buddies were also directly responsible for the propaganda video entitled “Reefer Madness,” depicting young men and women becoming violent, sex crazed, and downright insane after smoking cannabis. “Reefer Madness” was seen as a legitimate informational source at the time of its release and for many decades afterward. It is now shown to students as a form of retrospective humor. Anslinger used baseless scare tactics in an attempt to bolster criminalization laws in the US regarding cannabis, and even more astounding, industrial hemp, which can in no way get a person high.
Many seemingly separate parties were involved with the criminalization and illegality of cannabis/hemp. Big name players such as the banker Andrew Mellon, industrial wood company Dupont, and media mogul William Randolph Hearst were all directly and passionately involved in the senseless fight against cannabis/hemp for the sake of their wallets. William Randolph Hearst owned a string of newspapers across the nation. Unfortunately for Hearst, he had a great deal of money invested in timber, and hemp is far more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly than wood. What’s a man to do? Make your competition illegal of course.
Anslinger used Hearst’s publications to create an onslaught of propaganda that reached millions of households, killing two birds with one stone by furthering his career and outlawing hemp. Because cannabis and hemp were viewed as the same plant at the time (which is like comparing a Great Dane to a Shih Tzu and saying they are the same animal because they are both dogs), after congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the production of industrial hemp, despite being unable to get people high, was also criminalized and exorbitantly taxed.
Various highly researched, credible reports (from the American Medical Association, members of the DEA, medical professionals, and patients) like the La Guardia Report, were issued by medical journals in 1944 directly refuting every single claim made by Anslinger. These reports were blatantly ignored.
After 1937, cannabis and hemp continued to become more and more controlled with increasingly harsh criminal/mandatory sentencing. Cannabis and industrial hemp were eventually made completely illegal in the 50’s through a series of further restrictions and mandates. Eventually both substances were listed as schedule 1 narcotics, losing any and all hope of finding a place in society.
What should you take out of this brief history lesson? Congress made cannabis(a great medicine) and hemp (a product that would revolutionize countless industries) illegal because of a silly, sensationalized, utterly unscientific movie shown to school children. They disregarded the claims made by experts and medical professionals. They ignored the pleas for rational thought and sensibility. They had no reason to make cannabis illegal, and still don’t. I guess that’s why times are changing so quickly!
In the latter half of the 20th century, rational substance reform finally began to take a turn with actual long term medical/economic/political/social implications of each individual substance in mind. It became clear that the historical basis for keeping cannabis illegal is entirely political and has nothing to do with science. Just think, even main stream media and most countries around the world still refer to cannabis with a name spawned from mindless propaganda; marijuana.
People all around the world have begun to see that the war on drugs has completely failed in every way imaginable, actually leading to more drug use and significantly more violence worldwide. This is due to the fact that the war on drugs only fights the symptoms of a disease deeply ingrained into our society, and I’m not talking about drug use; I’m referring to gangs/organized drug cartels. In response to the effectiveness of incarceration on drug crimes, the Public Safety Performance Project found that:
Once incarcerated, drug dealers tend to be quickly replaced by new dealers and, as during the crack epidemic, the new recruits can be younger and more prone to violence than their predecessors. Thus while drug dealers no doubt deserve punishment, most leading researchers, and many law enforcement officials, now agree that incarcerating the foot soldiers in drug gangs, not to mention drug users, has a negligible impact on crime. Moreover, by creating job openings in drug-dealing organizations, it draws more people into criminal lifestyles and may in certain cases exacerbate crime.
The war on drugs is also one of the major reasons the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world, with more than 1% of the entire population currently behind bars, and an additional 2% of the population on supervision, probation, or parole. That accounts for about 3% of the US population under correctional supervision. By a large margin, the US has the largest percentage of prisoners based on population in the world. The International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College in London lists some startling statistics:
More than 9.8 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners. Almost half of these are in the United States (2.29m), Russia (0.89m) or China (1.57m sentenced prisoners).
After Nixon and all subsequent presidents became serious about the war on drugs and started punishing non-violent, hard working Americans for ingesting substances responsibly and safely, from 1960 to 1980 the number of total arrests nationwide rose by 28% while the number of drug related offenses rose by more than 127%, with the number continuing to rise exponentially. Nearly 40% of all federal and state inmates are non-violent drug offenders. Moreover, more than half of all drug-related arrests are entirely cannabis related.
This is a staggering waste of financial resources.
Taxpayers spent about $68.7 billion in 2008 to feed, clothe, and provide medical care to prisoners in county jails, state and federal prisons and facilities housing legal and illegal aliens facing possible deportation. From 1982 to 2002, state and federal spending on corrections, not adjusted for inflation, rose by 423%, from $40 to $209 per U.S. resident. Corrections spending, as a share of state budgets, rose faster than health care, education, and natural resources spending from 1986 to 2001. The average cost of housing a prisoner for a year was about $24,000 in 2005, though rates vary from state to state.
That incredible spending increase from 1982 to 2002 coincides precisely with the increase of drug arrests due to the failed ‘war on drugs.’ This is an especially important point to consider since drug offenses are almost entirely non-violent, and rehabilitation costs significantly less for tax payers.
Treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent such crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year. A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime. In comparison, prisons only yield $.37 in public safety benefit per dollar spent. Releasing people to supervision and making treatment accessible is an effective way of reducing problematic drug use, reducing crime associated with drug use and reducing the number of people in prison.
The war on drugs only serves to bolster the monstrous prison-industrial complex of the US, increasing the profits of private prisons across the nation. Despite the statistics, the US continues to permanently destroy the lives of hard-working, non-violent citizens. Additionally, private prisons and jails are a total loss of revenue.
… the benefit to counties where private prisons are built and operated can be quite scant — some receive less than $2 per prisoner per day from the private prison operator…the federal government agreed to pay CCA [one of the largest private prison firms] almost $90 per day for each detained immigrant at a San Diego facility.
Today, private companies imprison roughly 130,000 prisoners and, according to one group, 16,000 civil immigration detainees in the United States at any given time. As states send more and more people to prison, they funnel ever greater amounts of taxpayer money to private prison operators. By 2010, annual revenues of the two top private prison companies alone stood at nearly $3 billion.
Famous, influential, intelligent individuals all around the world are voicing their opinion that cannabis, and additionally hemp, should at the very least be decriminalized. These individuals include prominent politicians, actors/actresses, presidents, comedians, performers, philosophers, scientists, economists, doctors, judges and more.
The people who advocate the decriminalization/legalization of cannabis along with other substances are from every walk of life; many don’t even ingest cannabis. The one thing they have in common though is that their opinions are founded in scientific evidence, empirically tested data, and time tested proof. Previous and current presidents and politicians have admitted to smoking “pot,” (including president Obama who admitted to smoking pot regularly with his high school friends) yet they continue to stagnate with reform at the federal level (despite, again, the federal government owning the patent on cannabis as a medicine). Amidst all the hurtles and lack of progress, let’s take a look at what is changing within the US and the world at large.
Compared to the rest of the developed world, America is definitely lagging behind a significant amount of its rational, forward-thinking brethren. As recent examples, the Czech Republic legalized medical cannabis, Ireland legalized medical cannabis, and the United Kingdom is currently working to legalize cannabis completely, as medical cannabis is already legal. Additionally, in an attempt to combat gang crime, increase economic development, and provide its people with a cheap or free form of potent and effective medicine, Uruguay recently legalized cannabis.
As seen on the map, a significant number of countries around the world have chosen to legalize medical cannabis and/or cannabis as a whole with strong domestic and international support due to the positive effects of the decriminalization of cannabis. There is a surprisingly large number of countries with sensible cannabis laws.
Many political leaders, heads of agencies, and medical professionals are also pointing out how ridiculous it is that extremely addictive, highly toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol go unchecked while a harmless substance like cannabis remains globally demonized. Ask yourself, if alcohol were discovered today would it even be legal? In the UK, the chief drug adviser Prof. David Nutt was fired for pointing out the dangers of alcohol and nicotine and further explaining that they are for more dangerous and harmful than cannabis. Another UK drug adviser recently resigned from his job in protest of David Nutt’s silencing.
In America, progress is slow, but the wheels of rationality are beginning to turn. The most cited (and dubbed a genius by his peers) federal judge in America recently urged for the legalization of cannabis for the sake of economic development and to “let the punishment fit the crime.” 15 separate states have decriminalized or legalized the personal use of cannabis, while 19 states have passed medical cannabis laws. 9 other states currently have pending medical cannabis laws. As you’ve probably smelled, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with seven more states likely to legalize cannabis as well within the next couple years. Another piece of great news is that the Kentucky Senate Committee voted unanimously to approve legal hemp. The country is waiting with bongs in hand to see how the federal government will react.
It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.
President Obama’s response was typical of all political speech; evasive and vague. While tokers all around the country take bets on the fed’s actions, there is a significant amount of pressure on the white house to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Various bills are being presented in Congress to repeal cannabis laws and broaden economic opportunities. Although there are steps you can take, like signing this petition to give states the right to regulate cannabis however they want, decisions and movement at the federal level remain slow and stagnant as usual.
One of the strangest pieces of this entire puzzle is that despite continued sentiments from the US federal government that cannabis is still a hellish scourge upon the planet, the federal government has been supplying high grade medical cannabis to select patients since 1978.
Come on America, even the utter craziness that is North Korea has 100% legalized cannabis, and they’re the world’s mentally challenged cousin. Maybe that’s why their attempts to scare the world with a video featuring a nuclear missile hitting New York failed utterly; through their glazed, blood-shot eyes the video looks state of the art!
So, countries all around the world along with a growing number of US states are decriminalizing cannabis for personal use, legalizing cannabis as a medicine (or entirely legalizing it), and the US government owns a patent on medicinal cannabis as well as supplies certain patients with medical cannabis for life. What’s all the hype over cannabis? It just so happens that cannabis is a wonder-drug; a miracle for millions; potentially billions.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabis is one of the most highly effective medicinal substances in the world. It has the power to treat and/or cure a countless number of illnesses and syndromes, including a whole array of different types of cancer. But how can a single substance have such an extraordinary effect on our biology? It all begins with the endocannabinoid system.
The endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), wasn’t fully discovered until 1992. All vertebrates share the endocannibinoid system along with various invertebrates. It is made up of compounds called endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, and is found throughout your entire body: in the brain, organs, tissue, and cells of all shapes and functions.
The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in pre and post-natal life. The purpose of the endocannabinoid system remains uniform throughout our bodies; to maintain a stable internal environment amidst an endless stream of external fluctuations, a process called homeostasis. It modulates energy intake, and is also in charge of nutrient transport, metabolic storage, and much, much more.
Because the discovery of the endocannabinoid system is relatively new, and despite there being over 12,000 scientific articles concerning the endocannabinoid system, there are still gaps in our understanding. There is still a significant amount of research that needs to be done, and educating people on the actual science of cannabis’ activity in the body will help to clear the smoke of ignorance and closed mindedness. Once people embrace the current research that is taking place, further research into more specific and particular roles of the endocannabanoid system will take off at lightning speed. What we do know is the following:
Cannabinoid receptors are found in every part of the body and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system in our biological system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different function. Researchers are currently seeking to discover additional cannabinoid receptors as studies suggest that they do exist. As for endocannabinoids:
Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesized on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs, such as echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well.
The information above focuses on the two most well known endocannabinoids in the body, as well as the most well known cannabinoids in cannabis, but there are far more. Cannabinoids are split into three categories:
- Phytocannabinoids (found in plants)
- Endocannabinoids (found in humans)
- Synthetic Cannabinoids (derivatives of natural cannabinoids synthesized in the lab)
Cannabinoids appear throughout all of nature. For example, besides being found in cannabis and humans, cannabinoids are found in large abundance in chocolate, flax seeds, and breast milk. Additionally, hemp seeds aid the body in creating natural cannabinoids with the help of omega fatty acids.
Due to the nearly identical structure of phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids, as well as their identical mechanism of bonding to the same receptors in our body, we have a natural form of cannabis flowing through us at all times. What this means is that the compounds found in cannabis fit perfectly well into our own body‘s natural systems, ensuring highly efficient and proper uptake of the plant’s remarkably beneficial multitude of cannabinoidal compounds.
Cannabis Cures Cancer
This is more than just a theory or hypothesis. There is an insurmountable pile of evidence that cannabis cures/treats cancer (and a multitude of other illnesses) in a large amount of cases, and may even prevent it from coming back. The amount of evidence is daunting, and the science is sound.
It is through the encocannabinoid system that cannabis is able to perform its magic. Cannabis has the ability to treat and/or cure a constantly growing list of illnesses, including cancer. Dependent on the individual and the type of cannabinoid used, most types of cancer have been observed responding positively to the introduction of cannabis in the system, including cancer found in the breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, colon, skin, pituitary gland, ovary, pancreas, as well as melanoma, leukemia and more! The cannabinoids in cannabis act through the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to cure and/or treat cancer in several ways, the most prominent and well researched being:
- Antiproliferative Effects of Cannabis: Prevents cancer cells from reproducing, which is fundamentally the biggest issue with cancer cells.
- Antiangiogenic Effects of Cannabis: Prevents the formation of new blood vessels needed by tumors to grow; tumors can no longer be supported. (Click for further reading on other foods that contain highly antiangiogenic properties).
- Antimetastatic Effects of Cannabis: Prevents cancer from spreading to other organs, acting as a biological shield.
- Apoptotic Effects of Cannabis: Seeks out and induces cancerous cells to kill themselves: cancer cells die, healthy cells live. In fact, the healthy cells are specifically protected by cannabinoids like THC. Because cancerous cells continue to produce CB2 receptors, they act as an obvious target for the cannabinoids found in cannabis to easily seek cancer cells out like a heat seeking missile, link up, and persuade them to commit suicide.
One of the greatest benefits of cannabis as medicine is that it stimulates and acts in harmony with a system that is already present throughout the body. Instead of prescribing five or more different, highly addictive pills to treat various symptoms, and additional pills to treat the endless side effects (often worse than the illness itself) of all the pills, doctors are able to use cannabis and the cannabanoids within it, as a single, natural medicinal source without any physical addiction potential and little to no harmful side effects. Plus, don’t forget, it is impossible to overdose on.
Cannabis Cures Everything Else
Along with treating various forms of cancer, cannabis can be used to treat a constantly growing list of other diseases and syndromes as well. It may even slow the aging process. Additionally, the cannabinoids found in cannabis are exceptional anti-oxidants and neuroprotectants. It is such a remarkable substance that it is able to treat seemingly opposite illnesses simultaneously, like obesity and eating disorders/malnutrition. Again, the key is the activation and involvement with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis has shown results ranging from promising potential to revolutionary effectiveness in curing and/or treating:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Auto-Immune Diseases
- Bacterial Infections
- Bipolar Disorder
- Blood Disorders
- Bone Loss (reverses bone loss)
- Brain Damage From Binge Drinking
- Brain Injury/Stroke
- Cluster Headache
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Eating Disorders
- Fungal Infection
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Heart Diseases
- Huntington’s Disease
- Infant Mortality
- Liver Fibrosis
- Mad Cow Disease
- Motion Sickness
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Nail Patella Syndrome
- Nausea/Vomiting (including nausea due to chemotherapy)
- Nicotine Addiction
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Periodontal Disease
- Phantom Limb Pain
- Poison Ivy Allergy
- Proximal Myotonic Myopathy
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Septic Shock
- Sickle Cell Disease
- Sleep Apnoea
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Traumatic Memories
- Wasting Syndrome
- and more…
It is because the cannabinoids in cannabis are so influential on the endocannabinoid system, a system that spans every part of our body, that they are able to have such an effective, overarching, revolutionarily positive effect. Keep in mind that the above is what researchers have found with limited funds, little time, and immense legal obstacles. The golden age of cannabis research hasn’t even started yet.
What the Critics Have to Say(And Why They’re Wrong…)
On the flip side, critics are quick to point out the consistently noted dangers of cannabis ingestion. These are the same arguments that have been used for decades. They remain aggressively debated without compromise, despite decades of rational evidence suggesting falsity and fallacy. The seemingly valid concerns regarding cannabis use that top the critics’ list are: the gateway drug theory, short-term memory loss, psychosis, decreased intelligence, harm from cannabis smoke, depression, an elevated heart rate, and worries over driving while high. Let’s allow science and logic to save the day, shall we?
Many critics of cannabis use claim that cannabis is a gateway to harder and more persistent drug use. They are implying that if a person uses cannabis, recreationally or medically, they are more likely to use dangerous drugs like cocaine (again, ironically listed as a schedule 2 drug) or heroin. Although multiple studies have found that cannabis users are more likely than non-users to engage in the use of more ‘hardcore’ substances (meaning higher addiction potential and/or more biologically detrimental), there are endless holes in this argument.
First, let’s start with the fact that there is no definitive evidence that cannabis use is responsible for the ingestion of harmful drugs. According to former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders:
Much of their [US drug-policy leaders] rhetoric about marijuana being a ‘gateway drug’ is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to use harder drugs. If there is any true ‘gateway drug,’ it’s tobacco.
Alcohol and tobacco are more accessible and far more likely to be used by teens, consequently making those substances more likely to lead to further drug use. As stated by Elders, they are the true gateway drugs. In one of the most highly credible and sourced assessments on the science of drug use, the Institute of Medicine stated that:
In fact, most drug users do not begin their drug use with marijuana–they begin with alcohol and nicotine, usually when they are too young to do so legally…
There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.
Starting to see the trend here? Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous and addictive than cannabis. If the gateway drug theory did have any legitimacy, it would have to be applied to alcohol and nicotine, two completely legal substances, before it could be attributed to any other substance.
The best analogy I’ve ever encountered for the ridiculousness of the gateway drug theory comes from Lynn Zimmer, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Queens College at the City University of New York:
In the end, the gateway theory is not a theory at all. It is a description of the typical sequence in which multiple-drug users initiate the use of high-prevalence and low-prevalence drugs.
A similar statistical relationship exists between other kinds of common and uncommon related activities. For example, most people who ride a motorcycle (a fairly rare activity) have ridden a bicycle (a fairly common activity). Indeed, the prevalence of motorcycle riding among people who have never ridden a bicycle is probably extremely low. However, bicycle riding does not cause motorcycle riding, and increases in the former will not lead automatically to increases in the latter.
Nor will increases in marijuana use lead automatically to increases in the use of cocaine or heroin.
Not surprisingly, a study of 4,000 participants suggests that cannabis use discourages the use of harder drugs. Another study suggests that any trace of the gateway effect disappears by age 21. What is more likely to lead to additional drug use is not cannabis itself, but the overly harsh penalties of cannabis use. Karen Van Gundy, who is a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire, did not set out to disprove the gateway theory, but nevertheless found that, rather than cannabis itself:
If we overly criminalize behaviors like marijuana use among teens, this could interfere with opportunities for education and employment later on, which, in turn, could be creating more drug use.
The gateway drug theory is weak and unfounded. It is in fact not a credible theory at all. It has no place in the realm of science.
It is a propaganda technique that we have been hearing for nearly the entire 20th century and it continues into the 21st century; cannabis makes you stupid, a loser, a burnout.
While there is clear evidence that cannabis, like other substances, alters perception and brain function, there is no evidence that cannabis alters brain function in a purely negative way. Additionally, there is absolutely zero evidence that the biological effects of cannabis are permanent. On the contrary, science tells us that all of the consistently noted negative biological aspects of cannabis are entirely temporary.
According to Igor Grant, MD, Executive Vice Chairman at the University of California, San Diego Department of Psychiatry:
Smoking marijuana will certainly affect perception, but it does not cause permanent brain damage. ‘The findings were kind of a surprise. One might have expected to see more impairment of higher mental function. Other illegal drugs, or even alcohol, can cause brain damage…
If we barely find this tiny effect in long-term heavy users of cannabis, then we are unlikely to see deleterious side effects in indivduals who receive cannabis for a short time in a medical setting…
If it turned out that new studies find that cannabis is helpful in treating some medical conditions, this enables us to see a marginal level of safety.
Dale Gieringer, PhD, State Coordinator of CalNORML explains that the notion that cannabis decreases intelligence is based entirely on a study that was later proven to be inaccurate:
Government experts now admit that pot doesn’t kill brain cells.
This myth came from a handful of animal experiments in which structural changes (not actual cell death, as is often alleged) were observed in brain cells of animals exposed to high doses of pot. Many critics still cite the notorious monkey studies of Dr. Robert G. Heath, which purported to find brain damage in three monkeys that had been heavily dosed with cannabis. This work was never replicated and has since been discredited by a pair of better controlled, much larger monkey studies, one by Dr. William Slikker of the National Center for Toxicological Research [William Slikker et al., ‘Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Rhesus Monkey,’ Fundamental and Applied Toxicology 17: 321-32 (1991)] and the other by Charles Rebert and Gordon Pryor of SRI International [Charles Rebert & Gordon Pryor – ‘Chronic Inhalation of Marijuana Smoke and Brain Electrophysiology of Rhesus Monkeys,’International Journal of Psychophysiology V 14, p.144, 1993].
Neither found any evidence of physical alteration in the brains of monkeys exposed to daily doses of pot for up to a year.
The surprising truth is that cannabis actually promotes the creation of new neurons in hippocampal regions of the brain, the part of the brain most responsible for memory. Xia Zhang, an expert at the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada along with other medical researchers, points out that cannabis is the only illicit drug ever found to promote the creation of brain cells:
We show that 1 month after chronic HU210 [high-potency cannabinoid] treatment, rats display increased newborn neurons [brain cell growth] in the hippocampal dentate gyrus [a portion of the brain] and significantly reduced measures of anxiety- and depression-like behavior.Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- [anxiety reducing] and antidepressant-like effects.
Multiple long-term studies have found that there is no significant difference in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users, and nonusers of cannabis. Intelligence, or a lack thereof, depends on a great deal of variables, including genetic makeup, nutritional status, health status, formal education, and age-related developmental processes, but cannabis use is not one of them.
From a social standpoint, studies have even found that kids who use cannabis and other illicit substances usually have a higher IQ than their peers. Additional studies found that:
College students who smoke cannabis demonstrate comparable or even higher grades than their cannabis abstinent classmates, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree.
The short answer is yes, cannabis alters your mind and body, like any other substance in the world, but it does not make you stupid (certainly you’re not going to claim any of these highly successful cannabis-users are stupid), and all of the physiological and psychological effects are temporary.
Critics of cannabis use argue that memory loss, especially short-term memory loss, occurs more prominently in cannabis smokers. They also claim that it is a permanent effect. All of these claims are either exaggerated or wrong. We’ve already discussed how all the effects of cannabis ingestion are completely temporary; the same applies to memory.
To begin, it is true that cannabis has a noticeable effect on short-term memory as well as working memory, while the user is under the influence. Cannabis affects working memory through the mechanisms stated above, by encouraging neurogensis, or the creation of neurons, in the hippocampus region of the brain. Although this has a positive effect on memory overall, it disrupts short-term memory while the user is ‘high’ by creating ‘noise’ in the hippocampus. These effects are detectable at least 7 days after heavy cannabis use,
but appear reversible and related to recent cannabis exposure rather than irreversible and related to cumulative lifetime use.
Furthermore, after extensively studying cannabis use, lead researcher and Harvard professor Harrison Pope came to the conclusion that:
From neuropsychological tests chronic cannabis users showed difficulties, with verbal memory in particular, for ‘at least a week or two’ after they stopped smoking. Within 28 days, memory problems vanished and the subjects ‘were no longer distinguishable from the comparison group.’
These tests affirm that the physio/psychological effects of cannabis are temporary and reversible.
As for the seriousness of the temporary effects on short-term memory, studies have found that the effect is negligible. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine headed by Dr. Igor Grant analyzed data from 15 previously published controlled studies involving 704 long-term cannabis users and 484 nonusers and found that:
long-term cannabis use [is] only marginally harmful on the memory and learning. Other functions such as reaction time, attention, language, reasoning ability, perceptual and motor skills [are] unaffected. The observed effects on memory and learning, [show] long-term cannabis use [causes] ‘selective memory defects’, but that the impact [is] ‘of a very small magnitude.’
In fact, rather than having deleterious effects on memory, Ohio State University scientists have shown that
specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.
Research supports this claim as past studies have revealed that cannabinoid receptors stimulated by cannabinoids in cannabis act as an anti-inflammatory agent and serve to improve memory in old rats.
Surprisingly, recent research into the activity of the hippocampus suggests that the key to a good memory is forgetting. Think of the brain as a computer with enormous hard drive space. Despite this incredible amount of storage, it is still finite. The more memories our brains create, the harder it is for our working memory to properly remember and recall. In this way, forgetting a few things actually isn’t a bad thing. It is in fact highly beneficial overall.
Another important point is that different cannabinoids found in cannabis affect memory centers in the brain in remarkably different ways. Through further legalization, scientists will have the freedom to perform more extensive research, while growers will have the opportunity to create strains of cannabis that have an even more minimal effect on the memory centers of the brain.
These studies reveal that in the short run, short-term and working memory are disrupted by the ingestion of cannabis by creating new neurons in the memory centers of the brain. These additional neurons disrupt working memory by acting as additional ‘noise’ to the active, recalling mind. These short-term memory lapses are completely temporary though, and in the long run the brain is actually left with additional neurons and a more expansive memory center. To use the analogy of a computer again, think of heavy-cannabis ingestion as a temporary lapse in primary memory functionality for the sake of upgrading the storage capabilities of secondary memory.
Elevated Heart Rate
It is true that many cannabis users describe symptoms of panic and consequently an elevated heart rate, especially during their first time trying cannabis. What still remains debated is whether cannabis itself biologically causes heart rate to increase.
The most well known study done on the correlation between cannabis and heart rate, and subsequently the only truly credible and widely used study, is one performed by a man named Dr. Murray A. Mittleman. Mittleman’s study focused on:
information on cannabis use from 3,882 middle-aged and elderly patients who had suffered heart attacks. A total of 124 patients were identified as current users, including 37 who reported smoking the drug up to 24 hours before their attack, and nine who had used it within an hour of experiencing symptoms.
Mittleman’s conclusion was that the first hour after taking cannabis heart attack risk is 4.8 times higher than during periods of non-use. In the second hour, the risk drops to 1.7 times higher. According to Mittleman this was the first study to document that smoking cannabis could trigger a heart attack, but that the trigger mechanism remained unknown. So what’s the issue with this constantly cited study?
Besides the fact that any type of smoke entering the lungs produces the same effect (it is not necessary and not medicinally optimal to smoke cannabis, a subject that is covered later in this report), Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who is one of the world’s foremost cannabis researchers as well as Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a former senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for 40 years, explains why this study should be dismissed. Dr. Grinspoon tells an interviewer, in response to Mittleman’s study:
..let me say that since 1967 there have been numerous reports and studies, each of which the American media has blown out of all proportion, stating one or another supposed ill effect of marijuana use. I can list them, if you’d like. ‘Increase in the size of the ventricles, decrease in testosterone, destruction of chromosomes.’ All were front-page stories, none of them have ever been replicated. In other words, they didn’t pan out scientifically. Of course, the studies that contradicted them ended up on page 31 or thereabouts, if they got mentioned at all… I would point out that out of 3,882 patients, we’re talking about 9 who used marijuana within an hour of the onset of a heart attack. That’s around 0.2%. By sheer mathematics, given that people sleep eight hours per day or so, we can deduce that 6.7% of those patients emptied their bowels within an hour of onset. It’s incredible to me that the numbers here could be said to constitute a significant risk factor.
So, as is typical of the main stream media, a report was utterly sensationalized and relatively negligible data was heralded as proven truth. Dr. Grinspoon elaborates on the shortcomings of the study by reminding the interviewer that:
[Mittleman] put that increase [in heart rate] at 40 beats per minute. In truth, that number is closer to 20 beats per minute, which is probably consistent with running up the stairs in one’s house...I blame the media far more than I do Dr. Middleman. I read his abstract, and in its conclusion he cautioned against making too much of the data…in 1997, Kaiser Permanente did a large-scale study which included more than 65,000 admitted marijuana users, and they could not demonstrate any impact of marijuana use on mortality. If marijuana use really was a significant risk factor for heart attack, it is hard to believe that it didn’t turn up there. Again, I’m not saying that there is absolutely no risk demonstrated here. But given the history of the research since 1967, I’d be surprised if these findings don’t go down the same chute as all of the other front-page scare stories.
It’s really not that hard to believe. We have seen the same baseless scare tactics take place 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago, 100 years, and more!
With regards to actual significant scientific data, cannabis has in fact been shown (as stated in the ‘Cannabis Cures Everything’ section of this report) to treat and protect the heart, as well as help prevent heart disease through the interaction with the endocannabinoid system of the heart and surrounding regions of the body. It is consequently a likely tool for fighting and preventing obesity (along with hemp seeds). The science is still emerging, but what little research exists strongly suggests that cannabis will serve an extremely positive role in keeping the heart healthy in the future.
The single study that is consistently used to argue that cannabis poses a danger to cardiovascular health is far from significant and only became prominent through sensationalized media. Repeat studies suggest the cannabinoids found in cannabis play a pivotal role in cardiovascular health and the prevention of heart disease.
An historically major issue concerning cannabis is the worry that it may induce schizophrenic symptoms or intensify various forms of latent schizophrenia. The subjective experience of ingesting cannabis is highly personal and varies greatly among users around the world. Common experiences include:
- Greater enjoyment of food taste and aroma
- An enhanced enjoyment of music
- A greater enjoyment of comedy and humor
- Distortions in perception of time and space
- Short-term memory loss
- Improved long-term memory recall
- Creative thinking
- New perspectives
- Increased libido
- Elevated mood
- Heightened sensitivity to external stimuli
At extremely high doses common experiences include:
- Altered body image
- Auditory/visual illusions
- Hallucinations (extremely rare)
- Mild dissociation of mind and body
- Panic attacks
While the vast majority of the effects of cannabis are viewed as positive, panic attacks and paranoia are obviously unwanted. Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis.
While these symptoms usually occur due to thoughts of legal ramification for ingesting cannabis, exaggerated worry over a thought process, or general anxiousness over trying something new, it has been reported that the symptoms can happen spontaneously as well. It is possible and plausible that these symptoms could lead to greater and more persistent symptoms of psychosis. However, there are multiple aspects of the psychosis worry that needs to be discussed.
First, through our increasing knowledge of cannabinoids and the role they play on the endocannabinoid system, researchers have discovered that certain cannabinoids have a marginally stronger effect than others with regards to producing hallucinations delusions, and subjective psychological stress.
While the THC (the most psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) offers incredible physio/psychological health benefits, it has been linked to being the sole culprit of producing more schizophrenia-like symptoms.
When comparing multiple subjects under the influence of only THC, a mixture of THC and CBD (cannabidiol), and no cannabinoids, researchers found that only THC produced subjectively negative psychological effects. The subjects with no additional cannabinoids in their system and the subjects with the mixture of THC and CBD both experienced a nearly identical psychological effect. The only major difference was that the subjects who had ingested the mixture reported less anhedonia (unable to experience pleasure) then the other two groups. The researchers concluded that if anything, their research highlighted
the importance of distinguishing between different strains of cannabis.
Once we break cannabis down into its component cannabinoids it is easy to see why users describe such incredibly varied experiences. Cannabidiol is extremely effective in treating and preventing symptoms of schizophrenia, as research continues to suggest. Many researchers believe that cannabis legalization will herald a revolution in the treatment of various psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. According to a 2005 double-blind study analyzing the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, researchers found that:
cannabidiol treatment was accompanied by a significant increase in serum anandamide levels, which was significantly associated with clinical improvement. The results suggest that inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol potentially representing a completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Other studies on the topic affirm that many subjects report
while self treating themselves with cannabis.
Even in the Netherlands, where cannabis use is widespread and often harshly judged internationally, scientists have reported an utter lack of evidence that cannabis use leads to schizophrenia. The report states that:
A group of Dutch scientists say that there is no proof that cannabis induces schizophrenia. These findings will be embarrassing for the Dutch government, which has been bearing down on Marijuana Coffee Shops saying the drug induces schizophrenia.
The truth is that much of the research done thus far has been skewed and largely unscientific. Under proper guidance, and using the correct strains, researchers all around the world agree that cannabis is a wonderfully effective psychotropic medication. Researchers discussed the consistently shown promise and proof of cannabis as an effective psychotropic medication in the British Journal of Psychiatry:
I considered Arseneault et al‘s (2004) search for evidence of the association between cannabis and psychosis as quite skewed. They did not explore the evidence regarding positive, therapeutic or beneficial psychoactive effects of cannabis in mental health in the context of appropriate, rational and clinical usage…Signalling, mostly inhibitory, suggests a role for cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in central nervous system disease where inhibition of neurotransmitter release would be beneficial. Evidence suggests that cannabinoids inhibit the neurotransmitter glutamate, counteract oxidative damage to dopaminergic neurons and may be potent neuroprotective agents (Croxford, 2003)…knowing [cannabis’] potent neuroprotective function, its potential role in psychiatric practice should not be discarded lightly.
The most important thing to remember is that symptoms of schizophrenia generally (nearly always) precede cannabis use. Schizophrenia and general psychosis have far more to do with genetic make up than anything else (refer to the graph).
Research regarding the connection between cannabis and psychosis, especially symptoms of schizophrenia, remains historically lacking and skewed with regards to component cannabinoids in cannabis. Cannabis produces highly varied subjective experiences, and research has revealed that each cannabinoid within cannabis has a markedly different effect on individuals. Multiple recent studies have shown that cannabis, specifically the cannabinoid CBD, is a highly effective agent in treating schizophrenia and other psychological disorders. Most importantly, symptoms of schizophrenia precede cannabis use in the vast majority of cases. There is currently no clear evidence that cannabis is directly responsible for causing psychosis and schizophrenic symptoms in users.
This is one of the most commonly used arguments against the use of cannabis as a form of medicine or recreation. Like the psychosis argument debunked above, the depression argument is always portrayed in a skewed and exaggerated fashion. The most important thing to remember as we discuss this is that correlation does not imply causation.
It is well known that many already depressed individuals (ranging from mild to incapacitating depression) use cannabis as a form of self-medication. This often takes place after finding no success with taking a whole slew of expensive, addictive, and biologically destructive prescription drugs handed out by the oh so helpful DSM devotees.
What researchers have found is that the vast majority of people who use cannabis to treat their depression find it to be highly physically/psychologically therapeutic and helpful. All people react differently, just like with any substance. Regardless of subjective experience it is clear at the biological level that cannabis has an anti-depressant effect on the body and mind. With regards to decreased depression associated with cannabis use an additional study incorporated:
Over 4400 adult internet users [who] completed The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and measures of marijuana use. We employed an internet survey in an effort to recruit the most depressed and marijuana involved participants, including those who might prove unwilling to travel to the laboratory or discuss drug use on the phone or in person. We compared those who consumed marijuana daily, once a week or less, or never in their lives. Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales, those who used once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users. The three groups did not differ on interpersonal symptoms.
Cannabis users, whether they ingested the substance less than once a week or every day, reported far less depressive symptoms and far more happiness and satisfaction than non-users. The study goes on to say that:
The media continues to report links between marijuana and depression. In a recent review, Degenhardt, Hall, and Lynskey (2003) identified a modest relationship only among problematic users. Many studies show no link between cannabis and depression despite appropriate statistical power, measurement, and design (Fergusson & Horwood, 1997; Fergusson, Lynskey, & Horwood, 1996; Green & Ritter, 2000; Kouri, Pope, Yurgelun-Todd, & Gruber, 1995; McGee, Williams, Poulton, & Moffitt, 2000; Musty & Kaback, 1995; Rowe, Fleming, Barry, Manwell, & Kropp, 1995). One neglected source of depression among marijuana users may stem from medical use. Separate analyses for medical vs. recreational users demonstrated that medical users reported more depressed mood and more somatic complaints than recreational users, suggesting that medical conditions clearly contribute to depression scores and should be considered in studies of marijuana and depression. The data suggests that adults apparently do not increase their risk for depression by using marijuana.
Just like we discussed in all of the other arguments, the public only sees what the media picks and chooses to show, which is usually negligible data that has been exaggerated and skewed to fit their hype. The previous study also brought up an excellent point that has never been discussed before: are the results of studies concerning cannabis and depression that get aired by main stream media corrupted by reports of depression that originate from medical suffering? The use of cannabis is so wide spread around the world, especially in the US, that it should not be discounted.
After adjusting for differences in baseline risk factors of marijuana use and depression, past-year marijuana use does not significantly predict later development of depression.
Finally, in a longitudinal study completed in 2009 regarding cannabis and suicide,researchers found that:
Although there was a strong association between cannabis use and suicide, this was explained by markers of psychological and behavioural problems. These results suggest that cannabis use is unlikely to have a strong effect on risk of completed suicide, either directly or as a consequence of mental health problems secondary to its use.
The depression argument is false in many of the same ways as the psychosis argument. In the vast majority of cases depressive behavior precedes cannabis use. Additionally, in most cases where cannabis is used to self-treat depression it is found to be successful. Cannabis is a clear biological antidepressant and exhibits incredible therapeutic properties. Depression is highly subjective and everyone experiences it differently. The truth is that in multiple studies both light and heavy cannabis users report far less depressive symptoms than non-users. There is no evidence whatsoever that cannabis use predicts or causes depression. Many depressed people use cannabis and report positive results far more often than people using contemporarily prescribed prescription medication.
Driving While Stoned
(*Note: this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of any substance, including cannabis. The aim of this section is to view the credible findings on how cannabis affects drivers.)
The claim that ingesting cannabis somehow affects driving ability makes sense at first glance. Unfortunately all of the reports historically presented by mainstream media have focused on theory and self-report tactics, rather than actual evidence and proof. They continuously focus on potential ratios, theoretical effects, and skewed speculation.
Biologically, it is true that
cannabis impairs driving behavior. However, this impairment is mediated in that subjects under cannabis treatment appear to perceive that they are indeed impaired. Where they can compensate, they do.
Despite biological theories for how cannabis might potentially affect a driver, experiments using driving simulations in the lab find that:
drivers who drank alcohol overestimated their performance quality whereas those who smoked marijuana underestimated it. Perhaps as a consequence, the former invested no special effort for accomplishing the task whereas the latter did, and successfully. This evidence strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution, at least in experiments.
The [findings] contrast with results from many laboratory tests, reviewed by Moskowitz (1985), which show that even low doses of THC impair skills deemed to be important for driving, such as perception, coordination, tracking and vigilance. The present studies also demonstrated that marijuana can have greater effects in laboratory than driving tests. The last study, for example showed a highly significant effect of THC on hand unsteadiness but not on driving in urban traffic.
It is apparent that despite multiple laboratory studies displaying favorable results, real world driving tests are even more positive. When we actually test the effects of cannabis on drivers in the real world, we see very little safety issues, if any at all.
Drivers under the influence of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize they are under the effects of a substance and successfully compensate for their altered state of mind by driving slower and by giving themselves more space between other vehicles. One of the first actual road tests with cannabis studies drivers in the lab, on the highway, and in congested urban areas. The results affirmed that as far as cannabis’ effect on actual driving performance:
Driving quality as rated by the subjects contrasted with observer ratings. Alcohol impaired driving performance according to the driving instructor but subjects did not perceive it; marijuana did not impair driving performance but the subjects themselves perceived their driving performance as such….Thus there was evidence that subjects in the marijuana group were not only aware of their intoxicated condition but were also attempting to compensate for it…drivers become overconfident after drinking alcohol…and more cautious and self critical after consuming low THC doses by smoking marijuana.
Drivers under the effects of cannabis pay more attention to the road; drive more slowly, and leaving themselves more room between other cars.
The truth is that alcohol is a far more serious problem than cannabis when it comes to driving. Studies performed from 1982 to 1998 demonstrate time and time again that alcohol is significantly more dangerous than cannabis on the road. Alcohol use is also far more prevalent in crash statistics.
Blood and/or urine from fatally injured drivers in Washington State were collected and tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol. Drug and/or alcohol use was a factor in 52% of all fatalities. Among single vehicle accidents, alcohol use was a factor in 61% of cases versus 30% for multiple vehicle accidents. Drugs most commonly encountered were marijuana (11%), cocaine (3%), amphetamines (2%), together with a variety of depressant prescription medications.
The study even found that it was far less likely to find alcohol in a person’s system in the presence of cannabis, implying that cannabis use lessened the prevalence of alcohol use on the road:
Trends noted included an association of depressant use with higher blood alcohol levels, while marijuana use was associated with lower blood alcohol levels.
With regards to comparisons between cannabis and illicit substances overall, Accident Analysis & Prevention, a peer-reviewed journal, reported in its July 2004 article titled “Psychoactive Substance Use and the Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents,” by K.L.L. Movig, et al.:
The objective of this study was to estimate the association between psychoactive drug use and motor vehicle accidents requiring hospitalization.
The risk for road trauma was increased for single use of benzodiazepines and alcohol…High relative risks were estimated for drivers using combinations of drugs and those using a combination of drugs and alcohol. Increased risks, although not statistically significant, were assessed for drivers using amphetamines… No increased risk for road trauma was found for drivers exposed to cannabis.
With regards to comparisons between cannabis and substance-free drivers:
The largest study ever done linking road accidents with drugs and alcohol has found drivers with cannabis in their blood were no more at risk than those who were drug-free. In fact, the findings by a pharmacology team from the University of Adelaide and Transport SA showed drivers who had smoked marijuana were marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free. A study spokesman, Dr Jason White, said the difference was not great enough to be statistically significant but could be explained by anecdotal evidence that marijuana smokers were more cautious and drove more slowly because of altered time perception. The study of 2,500 accidents, which matched the blood alcohol levels of injured drivers with details from police reports, found drug-free drivers caused the accidents in 53.5 per cent of cases. Injured drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.05 per cent were culpable in nearly 90 per cent of accidents they were involved in. Drivers with cannabis in their blood were less likely to cause an accident, with a culpability rate of 50.6 per cent. The study has policy implications for those who argue drug detection should be a new focus for road safety. Dr White said the study showed the importance of concentrating efforts on alcohol rather than other drugs.
The BBC and CNN both filmed their own research on the actual effects of cannabis on driving ability. The BBC study focused on a single driver and found that he actually drove better while ‘high’; driving more cautiously and paying more attention to the driving test. The CNN study was a bit more extensive and controlled.
The study, conducted in Washington where recreational cannabis use is legal, focused on 3 volunteers who drove under the effects of different amounts of cannabis. They drove alongside a driving instructor with drug recognition experts (police officers with specific drug recognition training) watching them from outside the vehicle. The volunteers included a heavy daily user, a weekend user, and an occasional user. Even at 7x the legal limit of driving under the influence, 5x the legal limit, and 4x the legal limit respectively, all of the volunteers passed their driving tests, received positive reviews from the driving instructor, and would not have been pulled over by the drug recognition experts.
States with medical marijuana laws are also reporting that since cannabis became legal medically and/or decriminalized, they have witnessed decreases in deaths resulting from car accidents:
A report from the University of Colorado, Montana State University, and the University of Oregon found that on average, states that have legalized Medical cannabis had a decrease in traffic-related fatalities by 8-11%.
It’s just safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than it is drunk….Drunk drivers take more risk, they tend to go faster. They don’t realize how impaired they are. People who are under the influence of marijuana drive slower, they don’t take as many risks.
From a theoretical point of view it makes sense that people would be concerned over potential risks of ‘driving while stoned.’ However, the research speaks for itself. Laboratory and real world test results have confirmed time and time again that cannabis does not have a detrimental effect on driving ability. People under the effects of cannabis, unlike alcohol, realize their altered state of mind and compensate successfully for it. In most instances cannabis users drive more safely; driving slower, paying more attention to the road, and remaining more cautious and vigilant. Cannabis does not pose any serious danger to drivers or anyone else on the road.
Cannabis Smoke and Lung Damage
There are endless reports that claim cannabis harms the lungs and bronchial airways, as well as increasing the risk of lung cancer. What you’ll quickly notice though is that the studies these reports are quoting from are completely theoretical studies based on comparisons with cigarette smoke, as opposed to actual findings from research. Additionally, they only focus on one mode of cannabis ingestion, one that destroys many of the medical benefits of cannabis; smoking.
It is true that there are over 50 potentially carcinogenic substances found in cannabis. Additionally, because smoked cannabis is not completely dry and is smoked without a filter, there is roughly 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes. One can see why studies would speculate that cannabis may increase the risk of lung cancer. As usual, when you look at the actual science, the opposite is true.
First of all, there is currently not a single known case of cancer originating from the ingestion of cannabis. As stated numerous times in this report, there has never been a death that cannabis was directly responsible for.
Endless studies, despite a hypothesis to the contrary, are unable to find an increased risk of cancer due to cannabis use. in fact, as stated previously,
studies indicate that THC has anti-tumorigenic and anti-metastatic effect against lung cancer [and most other forms of cancer].
A study in 2005, the largest ever conducted of its kind, left Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at UCLA‘s David Geffin School of Medicine, scratching his head. Tashkin and his research team had hypothesized an association between cannabis and lung cancer, but even after 30 years of observing thousands of subjects they were unable to find a connection between cannabis and lung cancer.
We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. We expected that we would find that a history of heavy marijuana use – more than 500 to 1,000 uses – would increase the risk of cancer from several years to decades after exposure to marijuana. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.
The heaviest users in Tashkin’s study smoked more than 60 joint-years worth of marijuana, or more than 22,000 joints in their lifetime. Moderately heavy users smoked between 11,000 and 22,000 joints.
That’s an enormous amount of marijuana [however] in no category was there any increased risk, nor was there any suggestion that smoking more led to a higher odds ratio. There was no dose-response, not even a suggestion of a dose response, and in all types of cancer except one, oral cancer, the odds ratios were less than one. This is the largest case-control study ever done, and everyone had to fill out a very extensive questionnaire about marijuana use. Bias can creep into any research, but we controlled for as many confounding factors as we could, and so I believe these results have real meaning.
That being said, Dr. Tashkin wisely notes:
It’s never a good idea to take anything into your lungs, including marijuana smoke.
Smoke does not belong in your lungs, and just as this report does not advocate driving while under the effects of cannabis, it equally does not recommend smoking cannabis. What this report does suggest is using a vaporizer, cooking the cannabis into food, or making a cannabis oil. All of these methods make this entire argument irrelevant as they do not involve any form of smoke.
The media has bombarded the public with seeming ‘proof’ that cannabis leads to lung cancer. The truth is that all of this ‘proof’ has been entirely speculative. Despite cannabis smoke containing carcinogens and up to 4 times more tar than the amount found in cigarettes, long term studies confirm that there is no increased risk of lung cancer from smoking cannabis. On the contrary, the cannabinoids found in THC work to fight against cancer and even protect healthy cells. Most importantly, because cannabis can be ingested in many ways that don’t involve smoke, this entire argument is irrelevant.
Cannabis Oil: Run From the Cure
The most medicinally beneficial way to ingest cannabis is by making a high potency cannabis oil. It should be clear now from this report that cannabis is far more effective than conventional medicine for a near-endless variety of ailments. This is especially true for cancer.
Cancer cells have recently been seen avoiding chemotherapy, which explains why chemotherapy only has a 2.3% success rate, with the cancer often returning even in seemingly successful cases. Many patients also describe the side effects of conventional cancer therapies, especially chemotherapy, being even worse than cancer symptoms. In some cases, chemotherapy even shortens patients’ life expectancy, leading to a shorter life filled with pain and suffering.
The point is, no matter what type of conventional medicine you use, your chances of survival are bleak, and the side effects are horrendous. On the other hand, there is a medicine available that has been proven to completely cure cancer in the majority of cases, as well as having little to no adverse side effects. Additionally, it is as non-toxic as a substance can get, and is impossible to overdose on. Plus, it focuses on treating the side effects of cancer along with the cancer itself. At this point, you recognize that I’m referring to cannabis, but in this case, I’m referring specifically to cannabis oil, also called hemp oil and hash oil (though hemp oil could also refer to a pressed oil derived from hemp seeds which contains a relatively low amount of medicinally superior cannabinoids, namely THC. To avoid confusion I will refer to it only as cannabis oil).
Cannabis oil refers to a highly potent extract of cannabinoids from cannabis, especially THC, usually in the range of 40-90% purity (though there are claims of higher purity), in the form of a thick oil that can be taken daily. The same science discussed above applies to cannabis oil as the same cannabinoids are present, only with the oil they are in much higher concentrations. It is due to the increased potency in cannabinoids, specifically THC, that cannabis oil is the most medicinal and beneficial form of the medicine.
The use of cannabis oil became most prominent due to a documentary made by a man named Rick Simpson. The documentary is called ‘Run From The Cure,’ ( the word cure referring to the conventional cures for cancer, like chemotherapy. The documentary focuses on the science of the endocannabinoid system, how to make the oil and what to expect, doctor testimonials, research regarding cannabis’ effect on cancer, and testimonials from patients that have used cannabis oil to successfully cure their cancer.
Another story that is making ground breaking news is a story that is dubbed: Brave Mykayla. It is the story of Mykayla Comstock, a 7 year old girl from Oregon who successfully used medical marijuana, specifically cannabis oil, to fully cure her leukemia.
Additional information on Rick Simpson, Rick Simpson Oil (cannabis oil created using Rick Simpson’s simple method), and how to make cannabis oil yourself can be found on Rick Simpsons personal website: http://phoenixtears.ca/.
Over 150 testimonials on the profound effects of cannabis oil have also been compiled.
Cannabis oil is effective to an unprecedented degree, so says science and the people who have used it successfully to treat their cancer. Unfortunately, unless you are approved to use cannabis medically, it is incredibly expensive and potentially dangerous to procure due to its legal status. Something obviously needs to change, but what can be done? What’s the next step?
*Note: Although it does not specifically contain a discussion on cannabis oil, this exceptional video speaks extensively on the overall science of cannabis’ effects on the endocannabinoid system, presents testimonials from doctors and patients, and discusses various government funded/peer reviewed studies verifying cannabis’ extraordinary effects. It is the video I recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the subject, and is a great introduction to the plethora of research on the issue. It contains the following credible credits: Dr. Robert Melamede, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Biology Chairman
Biology Department at the University of Colorado
CEO and President of Cannabis Science
“Cannabinoids kill cancer cells in many cases, people are not aware of this” Dr. Manuel Guzman, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Professor at the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain
“Cannabinoids have the effect of inducing death in cancer cells” Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D. Vice President for Cannabinoid Research
University of South Carolina Columbia Distinguished Professor
“Cannabinoids can be used effectively as anti-cancer agents” Dr. Sean McAllister CPMC Scientist
California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
“Cannabidiol inhibits aggressive breast cancers” Dr. Donald Tashkin, M.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Emeritus Professor of Medicine
Medical Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory
“THC actually has an anti-tumor effect” Dr. Robert Sterner, M.D.
UCSD General Surgeon
Graduate of Harvard & UCLA
“Marijuana seeks out cancerous cells and preferentially kills them” Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, M.D.
Addiction Medicine Specialist
President of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians
“There are multiple mechanisms of action in which cannabis kills cancer cells” Dr. Bonni Goldstein, M.D. Canna Centers, Medical Director
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Cannabidiol has been found to make cancer cells commit suicide” Dr. Josh Wurzer, Researcher
Laboratory Director, SC Laboratories
Cannabis Researcher and Scientist
“Health benefits attributed to THC is actually because of the CBD content”
What’s the Next Step?
It should now be clear by reading this report that cannabis and hemp remain illegal for utterly irrational reasons that are actually damaging society as a whole. Most importantly, cannabis should not be labeled a schedule 1 substance as it contains, at the very last, a substantial amount of medicinal value. This medicinal effect comes with the added bonus of having little to no danger of addiction, overdose, or biological harm; something that cannot be said about most other substances approved by the FDA. Even aspirin, a substance millions of people around the world pop like candy, kills 1000’s of people every year. Let’s not forget that the most popular pain killer in the world has been found to substantially increase heart attack risk.
A slew of studies…show diclofenac — sold under the brand names Voltaren, Cambia, Cataflam and Zipsor — is just as likely to cause a heart attack as the discredited painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), which was pulled from the U.S. market in 2004.
We have so many issues with modern medicine, yet a cheap (free if you grow it) natural, highly effective medicine/pain killer already exists in the form of cannabis. Why is it still only available to less than half the country, and only after jumping through extraordinary loopholes? Even more ludicrous, although medical cannabis users are practicing their legal state right, and moreover, the natural right to peacefully preserve their own lives, they are still labeled by the federal government as criminals deserving up to life sentences behind bars. This is alarmingly unreasonable and irresponsible decision making at best. At worst it is pure foolishness and downright criminal in itself.
Regardless of medicinal comparisons between substances, what is important is that people have as many medicinally effective substances available to them as possible, without interference from Big Brother. As Lynn Zimmer, PhD, former Professor Emeritus at the Queens College, City University, New York explains:
The question is not whether marijuana is better than existing medication. For many medical conditions, there are numerous medications available, some of which work better in some patients and some which work better in others. Having the maximum number of effective medications available allows physicians to deliver the best possible medical care to individual patients.
We recognize the legal hurdles and the hardships faced by patients fighting for the simple right to take a safe, proven to work medicine, but what is the next step? What must occur to end the madness?
The next step is to step out of the historical shadow of basing medical and political decisions on myths and rumors. More unbiased research needs to be performed on the effects of cannabis on each and every part of the human body and psyche. The DEA, FDA, and NIDA have made further legitimate research an ongoing uphill battle.
A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle this week when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. The court deferred to the judgment of federal authorities, quoting the DEA’s statement that “the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies…. To date, such studies have not been performed.
But guess who bears responsibility for the studies the court claims are not being performed? The DEA itself, which through its ultra-tight restrictions on cannabis made it nearly impossible for researchers to obtain the substance for study, as well as the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the availability of the tiny quantity of research-grade cannabis that is federally approved for production.
In response to the DEA’s actions against sensible substance users, the LA Times accurately labeled the DEA as
a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.
Probably the most ridiculous aspect of the FDA’s behavior is that they approve of multiple synthetic cannabinoids which precisely mimic natural cannabinoids found in cannabis, especially THC. The only difference is that they and the pharmaceutical companies can add a few substances to the cannabinoid, call it a cocktail, and turn a significant profit on people in desperate need for something that works. So, synthetic cannabinoids which can be patented and sold at exorbitant rates are legal but naturally grown, free medicine containing the same exact cannabinoidal actions, as well as a wider range of medicinal benefits remains illegal. It doesn’t get much more hypocritical or shameless than that.
We have the ability to breed specified strains of cannabis, and create particular synthetic cannabinoids to meet the precise needs of patients. This incredible opportunity to create safe, effective, highly personalized medicine is stifled at the federal level, despite opposition from a majority of the US public.
The fact remains that Americans love cannabis. A recent survey of over 85,000 people revealed that at least 42% of Americans have tried cannabis. This is extremely surprising as only 20% of people in the Netherlands have tried cannabis, a country with extremely lax cannabis laws.
A second poll found that nearly 50% of Americans support legalizing cannabis, while 83% favor legalizing medical cannabis. Cannabis is such an American pastime that companies are planning to install cannabis vending machines in Washington and Colorado. Does this mean that 42% of Americans should be in prison, and 83% of Americans should be on the wanted list for supporting an act listed as a felony?
Although Americans love their cannabis, they aren’t the only ones. According to data compiled from WHO World Mental Health Survey, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the prevalence of adult lifetime cannabis by country reveals that the countries with the highest rate of cannabis use are countries that are developed, economically superior, have relative political freedom, and are culturally similar to the US. There is no way all of these people should be considered criminals:(*Percentages reflect any cannabis use during a person’s life for the stated ages in the stated year.)
- Canada: 44.5% (ages 15+ in 2005)
- United States: 42.4% (ages 14+ in 2002-2003)
- New Zealand: 41.9% (ages 16+ in 2004-2005)
- Denmark: 36.5% (ages 16-64 in 2005)
- Australia: 33.5% (ages 14+ in 2007)
- France: 30.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- United Kingdom: 29.6% (ages 14+ in 2004)
- Italy: 29.3% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- Spain: 28.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005-2006)
- Chile: 26% (ages 12-64 in 2009)
- Germany: 24.5% (ages 18-59 in 2003)
- Netherlands: 22.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- Czech Republic: 20.6% (ages 18-64 in 2004)
- Scotland: 20.5% (ages 16-64 in 2004)
- Austria: 20.1% (ages 15-64 in 2004)
Millions of people worldwide use cannabis for an endless list of reasons. Besides using it as a medicine, people all over the world responsibly use cannabis to experience:
a general alteration of conscious perception, euphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music or the arts,joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creativity.
Why are the DEA/FDA stalling? They raid innocent people’s homes, destroying families and jailing individuals for hyperbolic amounts of time. They go to all this effort to rid society of non-violent, victimless crimes. All this fear and war over a substance that they admit is beneficial (ie. allowing synthetic cannabinoids to be used medicinally and still sending medically grown cannabis to individuals). This is explicitly hypocritical and undoubtedly insane.
If the DEA/FDA are truly concerned over Americans’ safety, why are they not going after the truly dangerous substances. Research routinely finds that cannabis is strikingly safer than alcohol and tobacco within every measurable facet.
According to a 2006 United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is much less dangerous than tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol in social harms, physical harm, and addiction.
The scheduling system is nonsensical and has no clear logical basis for the large majority of listed substances.
Another important point is that through the legalization of cannabis, the economy could be booming! Here is a list of some examples of how cannabis legalization has already positively affected the economy, and how further legalization will improve the economy in the future:
- According to TIME, $14 billion a year generated in California is directly linked to cannabis growers, making it the most valuable cash crop in the state.
- AlterNet found in 2007 that cannabis related charges cost U.S. prisons $1billion dollars per year.
- A 2007 study found that cannabis enforcement costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually.
- The Sacramento News and Review received a significant boost in ad revenue after allowing over 60 medical cannabis dispensaries advertising space.
- In 2011, permits for each medical cannabis plant raised $600,000 in revenue in for the Sheriff’s department in Mendocino Country.
- The New York Times Reported that Oakland, California raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical cannabis dispensaries.
- In 2011, medical cannabis business accounted for $5 million in Colorado sales tax.
- Whenever weGrow (cannabis supply chain) opens a new store it creates an estimated 75 jobs.
- Pasadena Weekly reported in 2009 that there was more than 1,000 medical cannabis dispensaries operating in California.
- There are more medical cannabis dispensaries in Denver, Colorado than there are Starbucks.
- Cannabis legalization would drop the price of cannabis by up to 100 times the current price, allowing cannabis users’ money to go back into the economy rather than stimulate a black market and go into the pockets of gangs.
- Over 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, signed a petition to call attention to a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which states that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by no longer needing enforcement for cannabis related crimes. It would also save an extra $6 billion per yer through taxes similar to taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
- Legal cannabis could be a $100 billion industry, according to Economist Stephen Easton.
- Over 60 percent of states agree with taxing cannabis.
Tobacco companies have the land to grow it, the machines to roll it and package it, the distribution to market it. In fact, some firms have registered trademarks, which are taken directly from marijuana street jargon. These trade names are used currently on little-known legal products, but could be switched if and when marijuana is legalized. during the run up to the 2010 election in which marijuana legalization was on the ballot in California, Altria took control of the web domain names AltriaMarijuana.com and AltriaCannabis.com. For those not in the know, Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Players, Benson & Hedges and many other popular brands of tobacco cigarettes.
Allow me to reiterate how much money Americans would be saving on ending the war on cannabis and reducing incarceration rates. The Center for Economic and Policy Research commented on how cannabis legalization would affect incarceration rates and increase savings.
We calculate that a reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year and return the U.S. to about the same incarceration rate we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards). The large majority of these savings would accrue to financially squeezed state and local governments, amounting to about one-fourth of their annual corrections budgets. As a group, state governments could save $7.6 billion, while local governments could save $7.2 billion.
Cannabis has the potential to change everything for the better. It could also help alleviate the health care crisis as Americans would be able to grow their own highly effective medicine. Let’s not forgot about the multitude of uses for hemp. It’s no wonder so many industries are lobbying against cannabis and hemp legalization including:(*Note: many companies pour large amounts of money into the Partnership for a Drug Free America)
- Police Unions
- Private Prison Corporations
- Prison Guard Unions
- Alcohol Industry and Beer Breweries
- Pharmaceutical Companies
All this information is great and all, but you’re probably wondering what you can do to help, right? Here’s how you can get started.
What You Can Do
- Vote! Voting is one of the best ways to enact change. It’s how Washington and Colorado were able to finally legalize cannabis.
- Talk to your representatives. Send an email to your house representative and your state senators. Let them know how you feel, and how you think they should vote.
- Sign petitions. Sign a petition to give states the right to decide their own cannabis laws. Sign a petition to legalize cannabis federally. Or, create your own petition to the White House and spread it around.
- Do your own research. Alter your perceptions so that they are founded on evidence and scientific data.
- Spread the world. Share this report or other relevant information you find and help educate others. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and tell them about what you’ve learned.
- Don’t give up: people’s freedom and lives are at stake!
I would like to take the time to point out that this report’s aim is to argue why cannabis should be recognized as a medicine, and to thoroughly point out how incredible it is that it is not. Although I am admittedly in favor of it, I am not arguing for recreational use. Medicinal availability and options that work are the priorities here.
Virtually everything we encounter in life can be abused and unhealthily depended upon for happiness, be it video games, work, sex, masturbation, food, television, coffee, nail biting, reading, or even heavy metal. If you are going to use cannabis recreationally, use it responsibly, and don’t abuse it to the point of dependence. A relatively small amount of very heavy cannabis users do report withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop smoking, but symptoms are extremely mild and usually involve difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and moodiness for 1-7 days. Regardless, this shows that despite the safety, a socially harmful dependence remains possible, as is the case with everything in life. Remember, cannabis should be used in moderation (or as directed by your physician if you are using it medicinally). Moderation is the key to happiness and health.
To put it simply, cannabis is not for everyone, but that does not mean people who safely and peacefully ingest cannabis should be seen as criminals.
A paradigm shift in information availability and critical thinking is occurring in humanity, an ubiquitous evolution on a global scale. We are growing out of outdated traditions. More and more often we are basing our decisions on fact and evidence, rather than on opinion and stipulation. My hope is that by reading this report you will be sufficiently equipped with the proper information to understand an aspect of the changes that are occurring all around you. Become part of the solution. Don’t just listen; wonder, research, evaluate, consider…and be always growing.
1 Historical Use
2 Historical Legality
3 Harry Anslinger Versus Science
4 Contemporary Legality
5 The Endocannabinoid System
6 Cannabis Cures Cancer
7 Cannabis Cures Everything Else