Marijuana: 5 Misunderstood Facts You Should Know

mashable.com
mashable.com

Marijuana is a highly misunderstood substance, for which people have developed an array of diverse opinions and predilections. The drug remains to be illegal in the majority of America and has received a lot of controversy lately for its growing possibility of nationwide legality. Unlike many of the analysts for this matter, we have decided to provide an unbiased list of simple facts you should know about marijuana. No matter your current position, these facts on the issue should be acknowledged in order to form your own opinions about the misunderstood drug.

Number Five: You Can’t Smoke the Entire Plant. Marijuana is the name referring to the dried leaves of stems of the hemp plant. It also goes by the name cannabis, or nickname “Mary Jane” or “weed” (among various others). When the plant is eaten or its burning fumes are inhaled, its non-narcotic chemical compound known as THC increases production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. It also produces other sensual effects, ranging from sedation to stimulation and decreased sensitivity.

Number Four: In the Beginning, it was a Legal Requirement to Grow It. As England began to colonize America, a law was sanctioned that each colony must grow a specified, mandatory amount of cannabis plants to meet crop requirements for hemp trade. In fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson each maintained their own hemp farms, from which the Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made from the crop. The growth of hemp trade expanded the American economy until the 1930s after it aided in helping restore the economy damaged by World War II. In 1972, the Shafer Commission presented its research to president Nixon and recommended that the use of this drug be decriminalized. Nixon rejected; however, 11 states decriminalized the drug in retrospect of the commission’s findings, and most states reduced associated penalties.

Number Three: Nobody Has Died From Using It. Remarkably, facts show that not a single person in history has died from the use of marijuana. In fact, the artificial substance created to get around marijuana laws, known as spice or “K2”, has killed more people than the natural, original drug. Of all drugs available for use, alcohol kills the most people annually: a whopping 85,000. Behind that is prescription drugs, killing 18,675 annually, then ibuprofen products (7,600 annually), then caffeine (5,800 annually). To “overdose” on this substance, it would take inhalation of 800 grams of marijuana in one sitting, after which the user would die of carbon monoxide poisoning rather than the chemical compounds in cannabis. The risk of lung cancer is not affected by smoking marijuana, especially in comparison to cigarettes. Smokers of marijuana inhale the substance in such small amounts that there is virtually no health risk. The same carcinogenic chemicals are produced in the fumes of burning marijuana as in the fumes of tobacco, although many of these chemicals can also be found in a simple cup of coffee.

Number Two: All Sorts of People Use It – Not Just Stoners. This drug is used by a variety of people in various age ranges, mainly for its relaxing properties. It is an effective medical treatment for the ease of many illnesses and conditions, including heart problems, anorexia, stroke, and depression. It has also served purposes in social and religious ceremonies. It is a non-addictive pain reliever for the majority of its user base and has proven to have less addictive levels than chocolate or even sugar. While this drug is often associated with violent people, this is a misconception from hysteria in the 1930s. In fact, research done by the U.S. Shafer Commission shows that marijuana users tend to be less violent than people who are not under the influence of any substance, and are increasingly friendly. There is no evidence to show that marijuana is a “gateway drug”, although tobacco has been considered to be the ultimate gateway drug in today’s research. Its use has been documented as early as biblical times, even before tobacco.

Number One: It’s Illegal for Some Pretty Strange Reasons. In the 1850s, America underwent issues of the mislabeling and misuse of pharmaceuticals. Improper sale of these products later developed a set of laws that required the sale of any drug not issued by a doctor to be labeled as “poison,” including marijuana in many locations. By 1906, the meaning of the word “poison” was reformed, and laws stated that any drug must be labeled with its contents. This led to the formation of The Poison Act, which made possession of (non-prescribed) cannabis a misdemeanor; the act was not meant to limit the circulation of medically prescribed cannabis but was more of a legislative mistake. In addition, this act was formed mostly to target opiates; however, protests from paper companies petitioned that hemp be included.

In the 1930s, the drug was outlawed along with opiates and alcohol. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, headed by Harry J. Anslinger, created a large array of slam campaigns and propagandas warning Americans of the “violent effects” and “dangers” of the use of marijuana, without providing research to support his claims. By the onset of World War II, farmers were actually encouraged to grow hemp to provide increased structure for the economy. The growth of marijuana as a crop finally came to a halt after Anslinger produced a smear campaign, accompanied by wood pulp producers (the more expensive substitute for hemp in newspaper printing) William Randolph Hearst, Andrew Mellon, and the Du Pont family.

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