February is National Marijuana Awareness Month, though I’m sure if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very aware of that, or you forgot, and that’s cool too, because like, not every one is perfect, man. This funky smelling, seed bearing plant has its roots planted deep in American history, culture, and has sprouted in the medical field in recent years.
With all these “alternative facts” getting passed around like a joint at a Snoop Dogg concert, it’s hard to filter out the the primo stuff from the schwag. The history of Marijuana is long and well documented, and if you’d like to learn about that, you can here, but we’re focusing on modern times.
Everyone knows about marijuana, I don’t think it needs an introduction. What I think it needs is a re-branding. Marijuana isn’t just a plant that makes you sit at stop signs waiting for them to turn green. While I’m not one to claim pot is the end all, be all savior we need (but do deserve), there is no denying that marijuana has plenty of uses that we’re not utilizing simply because of outdated laws, for-profit prisons, and legislators in bed with pharmaceutical companies.
This country cannot move forward with changing the laws regarding the plant if the people are not properly informed. The laws do not represent the public opinion. Sixty percent of Americans are in favor of legalization.
Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule One drug, defining it as “a drug that currently has no accepted medical use.” Other Schedule One drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. There is an argument for each of those having some medical use. Hell, heroin was the name Bayer used to sell their morphine concoction under. But one of these things is not like the others. Marijuana has no confirmed overdose deaths in the history of humans, marijuana is not chemically addictive, and, most important, marijuana is the only schedule one drug currently legal for recreational use in nine states and medical use in twenty eight states.
We all know about the stereotypical stoner: Forgetful, long hair, red eyes, constantly hungry…so Shaggy from Scooby Doo? Come to think of it, the smoke was always coming from the back windows and not the muffler… but I digress. Marijuana use among adults has risen in the past few years from seven percent in 2013 to thirteen percent in 2016, that’s one in eight American adults. Look around the office you work in, there are most likely a few smokers working hard just like everyone else. And if you work in the food industry, all your co-workers are stoned. Your TPS reports still get done, and your pizza is still delicious, though it would taste even better high.
Not everyone who uses marijuana is a recreational user either, there are over 1.2 million medical marijuana users in America, averaging about 8.6 per 1,000 residents. My mother was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, she has been through radiation, chemo, morphine pumps, and hospice care. Nothing has been able to curb her spirit, but most of these medications do curb her appetite. She was never a heavy pot smoker, the occasional joint with friends was about as much as she could take. One night, I got tired of her saying she wasn’t hungry, so I asked if she’d smoke. She agreed and, it only took a few puffs for her to look at me with the goofiest expression I’ve ever seen, and cackle, “I want some fucking Wendy’s.”
Dave Chappelle, star of the cult hit “Half Baked” and legendary stand up comedian has a famous bit that goes along the lines of, and I“m paraphrasing here, “When white people get high, all they do is sit around and talk about other times they got high.” As true as that may be, if we want change, we need to act like adults and support the causes, talk to legislators, get the right information out there. The Pittsburgh chapter of NORML is a great website to get started. They organize functions, raise awareness, and you can register to vote on their site. Medical Marijuana and decriminalization have both been passed in our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, though the struggle for full legalization rages. Now, I’m not saying to start making signs and chanting, that isn’t going to help anything. Use your brain, don’t let let marijuana define who you are.