The Green Stigma

By: Michael Boeseman    

 

What if I told you pharmaceutical scientist just invented a magic pill that offered health benefits that could help people with life threatening illness like Cancer, Epilepsy, PTSD, Depression and Anxiety, with little to no negative side effect?

It must be magic, right? Now what if I told you the government declared that magic pill as a schedule one drug and simply possessing it will have you arrested, fishy right?

Why could it be that a magic pill with little to no negative side effects, that could help people with life threatening illnesses be deemed illegal? What if the magic pill wasn’t actually magic or even a pill, what if it was a natural plant, what if it was Marijuana?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt first made marijuana federally illegal in 1937 under the justification that it was dangerous and he was protecting the people. But was he really? Lets look at some statistics, in 2010 52% of all drug arrest were contributed to marijuana that means every thirty-seven seconds someone was arrested.

In addition, although White Americans and Black Americans use marijuana at about the same rate, Black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. Which raised the question, what was President Roosevelt really trying to protect, the people or the status quo of discrimination against Black Americans and other minorities? Or was it maybe because Big Pharma would lose money and the Government was unsure on how to tax it?

For generations we as a society have been taught to believe the negative stigma and attitudes that revolves around marijuana with phrases like “the devils lettuce” and “stoner”. I remember when I was a kid my mom would tell me that if my friends ever offered me weed then they weren’t true friends because they didn’t care about me.

But why is it that underage drinking in college is a norm, some would even argue that the experience is a right of passage while growing up. How is the underage consumption of alcohol justifiable yet smoking weed isn’t. we must also take into consideration the statics of how many people die in drunk driving accidents each year, and yet for some reason our society does not scrutinize drinking like they do the objectively safer option of smoking.

Another generational taught attitude is trusting your doctor and what they prescribe you, which translates in, “ trust Big Pharma”. Countless pill are being over prescribed to patients everyday and they are taking them without question. Pills that have nasty side effects that can often be worse than the reason they were taking them in the first place.

We live in a society that is currently not only battling with a pandemic but an epidemic as well. The Opioid Epidemic kills 130 people each day and most of these deaths are from heroin or fentanyl. For many the addiction starts in a doctor’s office and with a pill bottle. With pressures from Big Pharma doctors over prescribe powerful painkillers, which the patient takes without question, and ends up becoming addicted. What if these patients were offered medical marijuana instead? I’m willing to bet, for many the outcomes would be a lot better.

I’m sure many would agree when I say marijuana has been responsible for a lot of good laughs. But I think there is also a valuable lesson to be learned by it. We as individuals often times give into stigmas or attitudes created by society.

As a result, we do not question “norms”, and we blindly subscribe to false notions whether it be the negative connotation around marijuana, or our countries history of discrimination. With 11 states now legalizing recreational and 33 medical, the legalization process has taught me that although there is power in numbers, change will not be made unless you allow yourself to think and believe as an individual.