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Nixon's "War on Drugs" and America's D.A.R.E. program are largely considered failures in people over the age of 18. I'll admit that when I was in grade school, hearing about drugs like crystal meth and heroin scared the living hell out of me; and as an adult, I have a more in-depth understanding as to why staying away from these substances is absolutely in my best interest. Sitting in a dark room as my classmates read off their group presentations on different illicit drugs though, I remember listening to the facts rattled off about marijuana and thinking, "What's the big deal?" Maybe I was an observant and rebellious youth (I was not), or maybe the thought of a "gateway drug" creating a "greater risk" to try other substances didn't really connect with me, but either way I steered clear of narcotics while in most of my formative years. Now, as an adult, I have been exposed to marijuana on a handful of occasions, and still find myself wondering, "What's the big deal?" Guess what? Marijuana is not a gateway drug, and you and I both know cannabis isn't like other drugs, too. I'm not just talking about what kind of high it gets you (although I will touch on that); just take a look at this list to see why with a stipulation here and there, cannabis isn't like other drugs.
No one has ever died from ingesting cannabis.
"Dude, I think I'm dying," is a phrase uttered, chiefly, by fairly new stoners and people who are actually dying. Sure, I've heard emergency room stories about people being so stoned that they literally sought out medical attention, but as soon as the nurses leave that patient's room, they either burst out laughing or shake their heads at the absolute absurdity of the idea. In a 2015 study published by the Huffington Post, researchers found that a person would have to smoke 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC inside of a single joint to potentially reach a fatal dosage of the drug. Trust me, you'll be asleep long before you're able to smoke that much pot.
Pot is not physically addictive.
I'll say it again for the people in the back, "If you smoke pot, you will not become physically addicted to its effects." The risk factor of developing any kind of dependence from smoking marijuana is so low, between four and nine percent according to that same aforementioned publication, that alcohol, tobacco, and even gambling are more psychologically addictive than the devil's lettuce, very much unlike opioids and methamphetamines. Cue the collective sigh of relief, am I right?
The withdrawal effects of ingesting cannabis are limited.
Now, I'm not saying that there aren't a number of people who use marijuana and experience withdrawal symptoms. In fact, some people can easily feel hazy the morning immediately after a particularly heavy "sesh," but the overwhelming number of people who do feel withdrawal symptoms report them when they are attempting to quit the substance, if at all. In those instances, the prevailing effects include craving, anxiety and depression about not being high, and general moodiness. Replace smoking pot with going to the gym, and I promise all these problems will be solved.
There are a slew of different strains and deviations.
Thankfully, with the legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana becoming as prominent as it is nowadays, there are a plethora of different strains that differentiate this drug from other drugs. You will absolutely read about a bad batch of heroin or ecstasy when someone overdoses on these drugs; there are plastic containers filled with truffles located in obscure headshops all over Amsterdam, and everyone remembers the famous line emitted over the speakers installed at Woodstock pleading patrons, "Don't take the brown acid." However, differentiating between pot strains has become a legitimate science.
All these strains have varying effects.
Let's be honest, the side effects of ingesting marijuana are the primary reason people do it; but nowadays, you have your choice of effects. If you want to do drugs and party all night, you can smoke pot for that. If you want to do drugs and have a relaxing night in, you can smoke pot for that. If you want to do drugs and have a spiritual awakening, you can smoke pot for that. Pot is no longer just happy, hungry, and sleepy, and you have the growth of the medical marijuana industry to thank for that.
Cannabis has a wide range of ailments it can treat.
With the growth of the medical marijuana industry, scientists and patients alike know the significant impact smoking pot can have for the treatment of pain, mental health disorders, and even substance use disorders, as ironic as that is. Anxiety, depression, anorexia, chronic pain, Alzheimer's, and glaucoma be damned, medical marijuana is a classification of approved substances that drug users can trust. In fact, here's another list of medical marijuana strains for common conditions, helping you in a whole number of ways.
Hemp has extensive functionality.
You've read the entire post up until this point, and coming up to this subtopic, I'm positive the first thought that popped into your head was, "Duh." Fortunately for the both of us, I'm not specifically talking about the ways cannabidiol can improve your life and I'm certainly not talking about how much revenue it brings to drug cartels and gang activities. Hemp, pot without the THC, is a malleable and versatile substitute for plastics, fabrics, papers, and so much more. Big pharma and big oil ain't got nothing on a plant. Now if only we can get the federal government on board!
Marijuana can be infused into food.
Once again, I'm not talking about spiking somebody's drink with Vicodin and I'm not talking about infusing a sugar cube with LSD. Marijuana is readily able to be infused into your favorite foods and alcohols, providing you with a healthier alternative to smoking and a different high than that of which you are normally accustomed to having. Bon appétit.
Cannabis can be grown at home.
Want to grow drugs in your own home without everything stinking like shit? So long as you're not growing mushrooms, I have good news for you. With the the recent sweep of marijuana legalization, some states are offering up the opportunity for individuals to grow their own product for personal use. A quick trip to Amazon will provide you with a wide variety of growing lights for indoor plants or hydroponic systems, as well as guidebooks to get started, if that's your gig.
Marijuana legalization is an on and off conversation.
Frontline actually detailed a pretty extensive history of cannabis in US history. Did you know that in 17th century America hemp was required to be grown by farmers everywhere for rope, clothes, and sails? Only after the Great Depression did marijuana start to have a negative connotation, associated with illegal immigrants and negative propaganda, but it was still largely up to states to control the substance and individual use. Regardless of these feelings of negativity though, "Hemp for Victory" became a movement during WWII so that people could contribute to the war effort, eventually accounting for up to 375,000 acres of hemp being grown in the United States. It was only in the 50s that legal ramifications were exercised, to the point of near cruelty; and, as originally stated, the "War on Drugs" was a political gambit to incarcerate political proponents and people of color during the Nixon years. Now, the conversation is being opened up again to the possibility of legalization. No other drug has had so much back and forth when it comes to legality as cannabis has, and if the momentum continues, legislation is looking to finally get it right.