Yo, what’s good? It’s your boy Dan and today we’re gonna be talking about why people still have a problem with medical weed. You’d think people would be more open-minded by now, but nah, the stigma is still strong.
So, let’s get into it. First off, let’s acknowledge that cannabis has been loved by pretty much every culture it’s come into contact with over the last few thousand years. The earliest use of cannabis can be traced back to India or China, where it is thought to have played a significant role in their ancient cultures. Even in places where cannabis is illegal, people still use it regularly.
But then came the 1925 International Opium Convention of the League of Nations, which aimed to curb opium/heroin and cocaine abuse, which was widespread as they were not controlled substances. However, cannabis got lumped in with them, and global attitudes toward cannabis rapidly soured. In the US, attitudes toward cannabis began to change around 1900. Prior to this, cannabis/hemp had been one of their most well-loved crops.
The American media began to demonize and stigmatize cannabis use, attributing violence, crime, and sexual depravity to its use. This old marijuana propaganda morphed into many of the negative and damaging marijuana stereotypes we still see today.
And let’s not forget Harry J Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), who attempted to shift some of the blame for the country’s collapse onto “Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers”, citing cannabis use as the cause of “their satanic music, jazz, and swing” and claiming that “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others”.
But fast forward to 1996 when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana for chronic cases. The fight for medical marijuana was on. Since then, cannabis prohibition has been dropping away across the Western world.
But even with increasing evidence demonstrating its efficacy in many regards, medical marijuana use is still met with significant opposition. Cannabis stigma is rife, even in countries where medicinal cannabis is legal. Medical users still find themselves the victims of lasting social stigma.
This continued stigma is more severe than simply not being able to access the highest-quality bud in the shop. At its most perverse, it means legitimate medical users who feel cannabis is an effective medical treatment are denied legal, safe access to this drug and instead need to purchase or grow it illegally.
And let’s not forget about media proliferation of cannabis stigma. Unhelpful headlines like “Legalizing cannabis would result in soaring numbers of people suffering from schizophrenia-like psychosis” continue to fuel the cultural stigma against cannabis use.
Of course, there are legitimate concerns surrounding the legalization of cannabis. But are these negative effects enough reason to deny patients access to a potential treatment?
It’s nice to believe that in the end, the truth will win out. Evidence has been mounting for some time now in favor of cannabis’ potential medical applications. Many states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use. Canada has totally legalized its use as has Uruguay. In Europe, recreational use in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands has been decriminalized.
So even if full-scale legalization may be a long way off for some countries, cannabis is more available now than it has been for a very long time. If big business starts calling for relaxed cannabis legislation, it’s probable that governments may suddenly soften their attitudes.
For those who wish to use cannabis as a potential treatment, it is important to do so in a safe responsible way—like any drug. Making edibles or extractions/tinctures may be a viable way to take cannabis without the ill effects of smoking.
Though there are many issues in the world today, does outlawing a generally safe plant with medical potential really fit in with our supposed liberal societies? Shouldn’t individuals be able to decide for themselves whether to try cannabis as a potential treatment for their condition without judgement from society?
Let’s hope that in the future we can shed this unnecessary stigma once and for all. Peace out!