RUDDER: Separate facts from fear in marijuana debate

By Published On: February 13, 2018Categories: News

Cannabis legalization has become a hot discussion point in the race for governor. Democrat Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno both support decriminalizing cannabis. But Murphy takes it a step further, advocating for legalizing and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.

However, as legalization moves closer to becoming a reality, the same tired cannabis myths pop up. Special interest groups, funded by the same industry that created the out-of-control opioid epidemic, are now using their war chests and powerful influence to spread misinformation.

First, let’s start with the origin of cannabis prohibition. Cannabis, which was legal just 80 years ago, was a common product found in our medicine cabinets all the way up until 1942. But then, well-financed competitor industries helped launch a government campaign to make cannabis illegal.

Harry Anslinger, the former head of what is now the DEA, made many bogus and horrific claims in this false crusade. Among them were, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and “Marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” He used these scare tactics as “facts” in front of Congress to push for cannabis prohibition.

In 1969, the original prohibition law was found to be illegal so the Nixon administration, in its zeal to crack down on anti-war and civil rights protesters, declared a War on Drugs and lumped them all in one basket. There wasn’t any science behind it. In Nixon’s own taped words, he just wanted, “…a goddamn strong statement on marijuana. Can I get that out of this sonofabitching, uh, domestic council?”

Now, fast-forward: Big Pharma is spending countless millions trying to defeat cannabis legalization efforts in every state where legalization efforts occur in one form or another. Big Pharma, its lobbyists and the politicians who do its bidding, were recently highlighted in a “60 Minutes“ expose regarding how corporate greed and political maneuvering contributed to the worst drug epidemic in world history. Does anyone really think these opioid manufacturers are trying to stop cannabis legalization because they are worried about our best interest? Or could it have to do with the fact that opioid use (and corresponding overdoses) goes down in states that have enacted cannabis legalization measures?

Some people fear that legalizing cannabis will lead to more teenage use, more traffic fatalities, lower property values and become a “gateway” drug. That, however, is not the reality as witnessed in states where cannabis has been legalized. In fact, simple education and facts can dispel the myths behind marijuana.



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