Perhaps the biggest injustice in the US War on Drugs is the inclusion of cannabis, or marijuana, in that “war”. Because of the this, there is a stigma attached to marijuana and anyone who is known to use it. Michael Phelps has lost his Kellogg’s endorsement over one picture of himself taking a bong hit. And if you don’t react with shock and disapproval over the idea of smoking pot, then you risk being labeled a druggie, a loser hippie, or even in favor of the use of hard drugs.
What would truly shock many people, however, are the facts about cannabis that most people are unaware of. The internet is filled with information and references about marijuana which has led me to conclude that marijuana is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol, is not a gateway drug, is not on par with drugs such as heroin, cocaine, PCP, or crystal meth, and should not be criminalized. There is no reason why we should not be able to talk about marijuana and be open to the facts.
I’d like to share a video that does a great job of presenting the case for decriminalizing cannabis use. The ACLU, in collaboration with well-known travel writer Rick Steves, produced a 30 minute video (provided here in three parts) that discusses the history, effectiveness, and logic behind the current US prohibition of marijuana.
In case anyone is wondering … no, as of the time of this post I do not smoke or eat cannabis – at least not since I was in college. But I do feel that the criminalization of cannabis use is unwarranted and results in more harm to society than cannabis use itself.
Of course, anything can be abused or engaged in to excess, such as alcohol or even TV or video games. The same is true of marijuana. It becomes a problem when excessive use interferes with taking care of responsibilities that you have taken upon yourself. But moderate use as a relaxation tool by responsible adults is no more harmful than relaxing with an alcoholic drink.
There is, however, another side to cannabis that is of particular interest to me. In many ways, its psychoactive properties fall into the category of a hallucinogen. And as evidenced by its historical use in older cultures, it can be considered an entheogen or natural substance used for its spiritual effects. As such, it has the potential to be a useful tool for the modern spiritual seeker or explorer of consciousness.
Such explorations are the right of every human being.