Cannabis is a millennial plant that has been largely used by humans to heal different ailments and relieve others. Its fiber has been used to make clothes, and its seeds to feed people, until in the 1930s it was suddenly considered a hazard to humans, a dangerous drug that could lead respectful citizens to do all types of unbelievable horrors. From then on, the stigma against cannabis has spread like wildfire and has been kept alive by the powerful minorities that benefit from its prohibition in one way or another.
What common people know about cannabis:
I took some time to ask people around me their opinion about cannabis and cannabis users. Their reactions were quite similar in every case. First, they tended to have their eyes wide open in surprise, then for the most part, they were either reluctant to answer, evaded the question, or strongly opposed both marijuana and its consumers. In this last case, I always added the question “Why?” and then amazingly, once and again I received long answers referring to the evils of this drug and to how troublesome and troublemaker “the potheads” could be. All of these long answers proved two significant facts:
- Common people’s stigma against cannabis is strongly based on what the media, religion and the rest of society say; yet they don’t have one single piece of evidence to support their prejudices.
- What common people know about cannabis is, basically, nothing.
Causes for the stigma against cannabis:
The natural question to ask is: Why are some people so reluctant to accept marijuana, and yet they do openly accept other much more addictive drugs like alcohol and tobacco? The underlying reason is misinformation, but where does it come from?
- History: In the 1930s cannabis was prohibited in the US for the first time when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created. In charge of it was Mr. Harry J. Anslinger, who, together with some tobacco and chemical corporations used the media to demonize cannabis and its users. The prohibition was based on nothing but prejudice and economic interest. Suddenly the media were bombarded with propaganda against marijuana founded on pure opinion and no scientific evidence. The users of pot at the time were mainly Mexican and African immigrants, and here is where the second main cause for the stigma against cannabis enters the scene: racism. If Hispanics, Asians and Afro-Americans used this drug, nothing good could come of it, right? The fact is that, until 1937 cannabis had been openly accepted and used for medical purposes in the US and North America, and physicians could and did prescribe it uncensored.
- The fear of the unknown: When we don’t really know something, and we receive bad comments, we tend to become suspicious of it. But, did you know that our body has an endocannabinoid system which operates whenever we feel pain or anxiety, for example? It is for this reason, that our bodies respond so positively to the external cannabinoids (CBD and THC) present in cannabis, and the reason why cannabis can be of great help to alleviate some ailments like chronic pain, glaucoma, menstruation cramps, and even depression, without necessarily getting us high.
Not every person who consumes cannabis is a drug addict, even if they consume it recreationally. Being a plant, cannabis is a much better and natural option to relieve some conditions, especially when compared with other potentially addictive medicines like sleeping pills. But of course, being a plant, you could grow your own natural, innocuous medicine at home instead of turning into the pharmacy, and the chemical industry is a huge one, with huge economic power…
How to break the stigma against cannabis:
The only way to change the strong bias against cannabis and its users is by educating ourselves before giving an opinion. Instead of judging a person when they acknowledge themselves as pot users, let’s listen to them. Instead of judging marijuana for our lack of knowledge, let’s read about it, its origins and properties.
We would highly recommend all of you who having read this article are still against cannabis, to work at a dispensary for just one week; deal with the patients who visit the store in search for their medication; listen to their stories and how using this herb changed their life. Then, and only then, go back to your daily routine and express your views on cannabis and its users. First-hand experience is the always the best evidence you can get, and I bet you’ll be much more compassionate toward the plant and the “potheads” after you cohabit with them.