Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cannabis has many benefits, has gotten a bad reputation.

In the late 1930s, a campaign to criminalize cannabis resulted in marijuana and hemp being classified as Schedule 1 drugs, along with heroin and methamphetamines. Gross misrepresentations and fear tactics prompted federal legislation that made possession, cultivation or use of any form of cannabis a federal offense punishable by imprisonment. For more than 70 years, cannabis — in all of its forms — has received a bad rap.

Empirical evidence as well as solid research shows marijuana is effective for a wide range of medical conditions. It has been shown that inhaling or ingesting cannabis has many health benefits. Unfortunately, it has side effects, such as a mild state of euphoria and possibly inhibiting short-term memory.

In the state of Colorado, the medical marijuana registry information lists several conditions for which cannabis has proved effective, including glaucoma, pain, spasms, and relief from the effects of cancer treatment — including nausea and pain. There is research indicating certain elements in marijuana inhibit the growth of certain types of malignant tumors. The nonpsychoactive CBDs are showing to be effective as antineoplastic agents, i.e., they inhibit cancer growth.

While the federal government maintains marijuana has no medical benefits, it retains patents on marijuana for its beneficial medicinal properties. How is it the federal government can maintain patents on marijuana’s medical use and at the same time continue its classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic?

Marijuana is safer than tobacco, alcohol, prescription narcotics and other illicit drugs. According to an article in the Coloradoan on Aug. 22, “Is marijuana OK for you? Research stunted, even in Colorado,” last year in Larimer County alone, 27 people died from prescription opiates overdose, heroin killed 11, alcohol 2, meth 2 and cocaine 1. There have been zero deaths related to marijuana use or overdose.

Another issue that’s related to cannabis is the question of industrial hemp.

An unfortunate side effect of marijuana prohibition in the 1930s is it shut down agricultural practices related to hemp.

Hemp can be developed into thousands of sustainable, beneficial and healthy products. It can provide renewable fuel, food and the strongest natural fiber known. Hemp fibers could be used in clothing, building products, paper products, and structural reinforcement in concrete, plastics and resins. Hemp seeds are a rich source of protein and high-quality oils for nutritional purposes. Hemp oil is also a renewable biofuel. Hemp is a great source of cellulose, which could be used to produce ethanol.

The potential financial benefit of hemp far exceeds the revenues from selling and taxing medical or recreational marijuana.

Agricultural hemp is a sustainable commodity that will boost our local economy including farming, manufacturing and sales of products ranging from fuel to food to textiles to building materials.

It is a social injustice that cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

Declassifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic would:

• Allow research to be done to determine the extent of the medical benefits of cannabis.

• Develop industrial hemp, including research in the development of the thousands of products.

• Allow for the nationwide regulation of marijuana, including local cultivation and seed-to-sale administration. Revenues from collected taxes can be used for mental health programs, drug education programs, drug rehabilitation and to help balance the budget.

• Redirect the billions of dollars spent on the failed drug war.

The time has come to end the 70-year prohibition on cannabis.