I just watched an excerpt from a PBS documentary called Clearing the Smoke, and I’m incensed. Go ahead and check it out, then read on:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Study upon study has shown that there are tangible, proven medicinal uses for Marijuana, yet we’re relying on alarmists who seem stuck in a ‘it’s fun, so it’s bad’ mentality.

I’ve never used pot (yes, seriously), but I can’t fathom why it isn’t legal.  Aside from having few if any reported fatalities due to marijuana use (none of the ‘Yes’ arguments at ProCon are clear-cut, and the ‘No’ arguments seem pretty solid, and the US Department of Justice seemed to think it was safe in 1988), having fewer negative side-effects than alcohol, cigarettes, or most legal medicines, it’s also difficult to cut and relatively easy to cultivate.  But even if none of this was the case, it’s a viable treatment for a host of illnesses and symptoms including inflammatory complaints, nausea and loss of appetite, epilepsy and FUCKING CANCER. It’s not like they just figured out it might help shrink cancerous tumours, either; that Harvard study I linked above was from 2007. While it’s not a human trial, I still don’t understand why it hasn’t been more widely publicized.  When they realized that the treatment for cholera was re-hydration with uncontaminated fluids, they didn’t wait a decade for studies on the effects of water on human test subjects; they just went ahead and starting saving lives.* I also don’t understand why they’re so focused on finding ways to give people this extremely useful and non-addictive drug without making them high.  Lots of commonly-used drugs make you high and affect your ability to perform everyday tasks, as well as often saddling you with an addiction that you then have to break once you’re healthy. If a drug offers a cure that’s also a pleasure but isn’t chemically addictive, I say fuck yeah. We routinely treat people with medication which makes their lives miserable and oftentimes horrible.  Are we punishing the sick? Would it be immoral to save or improve their lives and give them a pleasant high? I’ve read some articles that speak of the high you get from pot as ‘incapacitating.’ Now, I don’t have any direct personal experience, but pretty much everyone I know smokes pot.  And “incapacitated” doesn’t really describe most of them when they’re high.  In fact, I wouldn’t even necessarily concur with the stereotypical image of the pot smoker – lazy layabouts who get high and engage in Philosophy 101-style discussions. People I know who smoke pot are still in control of their higher functions, and can make intelligent decisions, perform tasks, and pretty well go about their day as usual.  I haven’t run any studies, but considering working in music is sort-of an informal education on how various substances affect a person’s drive and ability to work, I would conclude that pot isn’t incapacitating. You know what is incapacitating, however? Chemo.  It’s poison.  It decreases quality of life until I’m not sure how anyone manages to fight through and actually get better.  I’ve never had cancer, but if I did, I’d opt for the pleasant cure over the poison cure, if I had the choice. Sure, more studies need to be done, and I welcome that.  They haven’t firmly established that marijuana fights cancer, nor that it reduces seizures, or how best to administer it so that it works most effectively.  But humans have been self-administering marijuana for millenia without overdosing or getting addicted; I think it’s time for the medical and legal establishments to recognize that it’s less dangerous than many other legal drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin,* or opiates. As a non-pot smoker, I’ll tell you the reason I don’t do it is that I can’t get over the idea of inhaling smoke (ew), and also I don’t really need another thing to spend money on.  But I think it should be legal. And this dithering is one of the great shames of our time; we could be helping people, but we’re hung up on ill-defined prejudice.  And that incenses me.     *Okay, different century, but humans have been toking long enough that we know it’s not going to kill you. Unlike aspirin, which can totally kill you. In fact, aspirin is more deadly than Swine Flu or terrorism.
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