For over a millennium marijuana has been given a bad reputation, while the tobacco and alcohol industries, responsible for millions of deaths per year, escape the same scrupulous attention and remain protected by the public.
As such protection ensues, citizens collectively admonish the use of marijuana. Community meetings on opioid addiction now provide a forum for opined citizens to insist the broad-leafed green plant is “the gateway drug” into harder and more lethal opioid substances.
After all, distributors of crack, cocaine, meth, and heroin have been found to be in possession of marijuana, too. How can marijuana be anything besides a gateway drug?
First a high school kid smokes some weed, then they’re offered powder, and before they know what’s best for them, they’re behind a dumpster shooting heroin and committing themselves to acts of lawlessness. Thus is the narrative of Reefer Madness.
“I smoked weed in high school. Then I tried pain pills. I’ve been using heroin for six years now,” is an admittance I’ve heard from heroin users on the streets in Ohio.
One young person, Becky (name is changed), told me this as she stood on the side of the road smoking a cigarette. This advantage point gave her a good view of both ends of the street: Becky had an active warrant for criminal charges related to heroin use.
Becky divulged: Before she was in high school, and before she ever tried marijuana, Becky drank bottle after bottle of cough syrup until she passed out. She smoked cigarettes. There were alcohol, cigarettes and pills before, during and after heroin use. Finally there was just Becky, heroin, and cigarettes.
We know, then, that the gateway to substance abuse and eventual addiction begins with alcohol and cigarettes, two substances that are legally bought and widely protected by the public.
Some people try a variety of substances before they are hooked on heroin, even strange things, like morning glory seeds and jet fuel. Most substances metabolize out of the body over time; certain opioids, like morphine, do not. Scientific evidence suggests near-infrared light sauna and daily exercise will fully metabolize and detox opioids.
A local peer survey found that high school students are more likely today to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. The students also report that they believe marijuana is less dangerous than cigarettes. This belief is trending not only among high school students across the United States but also in England and other European countries.
Yet the community misappropriates moral values and attempts to force the opposite set of societal beliefs onto students. Society vacates any prejudice toward tobacco and alcohol. The use is accepted widely and space is given to “designated” smoking and drinking areas.
It’s OK to use cigarettes, society says, but it’s also widely known that cigarettes contain chemicals that cause toxicity and degenerative diseases. Cigarette chemicals are the same as in batteries, insecticides, toilet cleaners, embalming fluids, rocket fuels and poisons. The highly addictive cigarettes cause half of all cancers but society still protects cigarettes and designs the spaces for smoking them.
“A burning weed with its roots in Hell,” was a popular Reefer Madness poster. One puff of weed will drag your children into sin and the quagmires of degradation, the proclamation read. Marijuana was deemed to be the assassin of youth. The cannabis smear campaign instilled fear into the minds of people who accepted this as truth.
Marijuana is non-addictive and it is a substance less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes. Of course, the optimum public discourse is to discourage the youth from abusing any substance at all because young people’s minds are still developing and will stop maturing at whatever age they begin abusing substances.
But it’s not realistic to force drug policies onto children whereby the most dangerous substances still have the protection of the public and the less dangerous, non-addictive marijuana is punitively targeted. We need drug policies that make sense.
Prescription medication advertising on television needs stricter regulation and complete admonition, as it creates subconscious passivity toward use in children and as adults later in life.
More effort needs to be taken to dissuade youth from the onset of habitual cigarette smoking and addiction. Prevention needs to be more inclusive of over-the-counter products like cough syrups, household cleaners, paints, and gasoline. Many of these dangerous chemicals are under-regulated and there is little to no education about them, but these substances are given designated space in society and remain accepted and protected by society.
Marijuana does not yet have a “designated” space in communities. Or does it?
Students, who know the substance is less dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, still procure it, though how is a mystery. It’s scary to think they have to ask a crack or heroin dealer for marijuana, but that’s just the way society wants it — the assassin of youth, hidden from view.
The designated space for marijuana is designed, by society and law, to inherently be with those dealers, and that’s precisely why it needs to change.
Author’s note: By “marijuana” the author of this article is referring to common run-of-the-mill natural cannabis, not to be confused with synthetic marijuana, also known as spice or incense. Synthetic marijuana, or spice, is extremely dangerous. It is generally made by spraying synthetic chemicals onto incense and is then inhaled. This, like a lot of other synthetic chemicals, causes fatal overdoses. The author does not condone or promote the use of any substance, legal or illegal.
Ashley may be contacted by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton