Recently, I visited my grandmother after she was released from the hospital. She hasn’t been doing well, and she can’t afford to pay for her medication. In addition, my grandparents must also pay for their house and with her not being able to work, life is very difficult for them. But the most surprising aspect of my entire visit was learning that my grandmother’s solution to her medical problem is smoking marijuana.
“If only it were legal, pot would make my life a lot easier,” she said.
She assured me that she doesn’t smoke marijuana, but that she has thought of relocating to a state where cannabis has been legalized for medical purposes, and I think she has the right idea. Several of her prescriptions are for ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana, so it would make sense to cut down on cost by using one drug for everything.
Marijuana’s first recorded use was over 10,000 years ago in Taiwan; shamans throughout history have used marijuana to treat illnesses, and for good reason. As the anti-prohibition wave sweeps America once again, medical uses for marijuana are being discovered more often each year. For example, I currently take medication for seven ailments on the list for marijuana treatment. It would be a lot easier on my wallet if I could have one prescription for everything.
I also experience random attacks of vertigo, but I can’t take medication for it because it makes me loopy; unable to think or write or function in the normal world. Marijuana has also shown improvement in patients with vertigo by shortening the attacks, and helping to reduce the nausea that follows.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active substance in cannabis, acts as an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant drug. The seeds are also helpful in providing a good source of necessary amino acids. With a list of uses as extensive as marijuana’s, it really makes me wonder why it was made illegal in the first place.
In 1937, the federal Marijuana Tax Act made the possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout America. Titled as a Schedule I substance for “indicating a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value,” marijuana users and dealers were prosecuted for crimes on the same level as heroin and methamphetamine users. Even in 1937, the American Medical Association disagreed with Congress, and over 70 years later, after medical use is undeniable, it’s still illegal.
The money that we pay to prohibit marijuana is significant. On a national level, reports estimate that criminal justice expenditures are well over a billion dollars per year, with allocations going to police, courts, and corrections. With a growing number of inmates serving up to life sentences for marijuana, it’s also important to consider the amount of money Americans would save if it were legalized for medical purposes.
Another legitimate argument for legalization is that if marijuana were a regulated medical or recreational substance, it would become taxable. In fact, cannabis is one of California’s most valuable crops.
In November, Proposition 19, titled the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, will appear on the California ballot. If passed, this initiative would legalize the recreational use of cannabis and its related activities in the State of California. It would also allow local governments to regulate and tax the newly created cannabis market.
Further, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently confirmed at a press conference that his office would no longer subject individuals who were complying with state medical marijuana laws to federal drug raids and prosecutions.
All of this is good news, but there still seems to be a lag in many states’ legislation. When you weigh the pros and cons, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand why it’s still illegal in many states.