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Smoke and Mirrors: Myths and Misconceptions about 4/20

Mental Health & Wellness
Mental Health & Wellness
April 1, 2023
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Cannabis, also known as marijuana, dope, pot, grass, weed, Mary Jane, ganja, and the Devil’s lettuce; whatever you call it, it has been a topic of controversy and debate for decades. However, despite the hype, there are many compelling arguments in favor of cannabis, both for medical and recreational use. Since April 20th (4-20) has become every bit of a recognized holiday as May the 4th, here’s a short take on the Grunt Style Foundation’s point of view.

Let’s start with one of the primary arguments in favor of cannabis - its proven and potential medical benefits. Cannabis has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of medical conditions. So much so, 39 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. The most common conditions for which cannabis is available in states where this plant is legal to use as a medicine are pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, cachexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and degenerative neurological conditions, cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, Tourette syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, dementia, glaucoma, traumatic brain injury, addiction, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and schizophrenia and other psychoses. It can also be an effective alternative to zombie dope prescription drugs, which can be expensive, addictive, and have negative side effects. Pissing veterans off, foremost amongst them.

In addition to its medical benefits, cannabis can also be a safer alternative to alcohol and other drugs for recreational use. Unlike alcohol, which can be toxic and can lead to addiction, cannabis has a low risk of toxicity and is less addictive. It can also be used in moderation without the negative health consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption. If someone insists on altering their state of consciousness as a form of entertainment and relaxation, cannabis is undoubtably the lesser of two evils when compared to the ol’ firewater. I’m not sure how many bar fights have broken out due to excessive weed consumption, but it can’t be very many considering the side effects usually involve munchies and deep conversations on the nature of reality and how to solve the world’s problems with compassion, tolerance, and tacos.

Furthermore, legalization and regulation of cannabis can provide a significant economic benefit. Legalization can create new jobs and generate tax revenue, and as we’ve seen in states where pot is legal, revenue generated from the taxation of the plant can be used to fund important social programs such as education and healthcare. While taxes are generally just something that is accepted as the battle buddy of death when it comes to the certainties of life, at least tax money generated from marijuana isn’t being spent on new tanks to be left behind for the Taliban.

Legalization can also help to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system. Currently, many people are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses, including possession and distribution of cannabis. Legalization can free up resources and reduce the number of people in jail for non-violent offenses, which can save taxpayer money and improve public safety. According to data available in the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer – an interactive portal for exploring crime statistics through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program – state and local law enforcement agencies reported 170,856 arrests for marijuana possession in 2021, down from over 226,000 in 2020. When it comes to the statistics of the prison population within the United States (as of March 2023), 44.8% of inmates are incarcerated due to drug offenses. This is more than double the number of the next largest population serving time, people with offenses involving weapons, explosives and arson.

Opponents of cannabis argue that it can be harmful and addictive, and that it can lead to other drug use. However, studies have shown that cannabis is no more addictive than alcohol or tobacco, and that it is not a "gateway drug" that leads to harder drug use. So, while there should be some degree of gratitude involved for those in government wanting to look out for our best interests by imposing a moral stance upon the population at large, there are far better things to be worried about. We hope that the rest of the country follows the lead of those states that are already letting free people do as they like. To those politicians in states that are still intent on fighting the green boogeyman under the bed, spark a J and chill out.

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