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It’s not only a weed

opinion / Columnists
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Like It Is

It’s not only a weed

/ 05:26 AM November 02, 2017

I had epilepsy for over 20 years. I wish I’d had cannabis to relieve it, because cannabis does. But I’m not allowed. Why?

In the Netherlands, smoking cigarettes kills some 25,000 people annually, alcoholism about 1,000, drugs some 140 through overdose. Cannabis is legal in the Netherlands. No one has died from smoking it. This is the story worldwide. It might make you high, but not to a life-threatening level. The theoretical lethal dose of smoked cannabis is 15,000 joints in 20 minutes. If there are some risks to it, what doesn’t. It has some remarkable medical benefits which I believe override any disadvantages.

As far as I can find out, no one anywhere in the world has died from smoking marijuana. Oh, yes, people have gotten high and done crazy things, but they haven’t gone on murderous rampages.

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One first difference that stands out is that cannabis is an organic product, unlike most of the drugs on the market that are synthetically fabricated (opium would be an exception). In fact, morphine, which is derived from the opium poppy, is allowed because of its medicinal benefits. If we can control the sale and use of morphine, surely we can for cannabis as well.

Is cannabis really such a destructive product? No; it’s the reverse. Ten countries — Colombia, the Czech Republic, Canada, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Uruguay, Romania and the United States (20 states) — have legalized it for medicinal use, and it does have some amazing therapeutic effects, including easing, even helping cure, a number of debilitating diseases.

Just look at some of the good things cannabis can do. It can ease the suffering of patients with cancer — surely a humane thing to do. It improves mobility and sleep quality. It reduces muscle spasticity and related pain. It can relieve people’s suffering.

A few countries have gone further and allowed it for recreational use, too. They include the Netherlands, Canada, the Czech Republic and Uruguay. Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis for recreational use. It’s controlled.

Its intent — and this to me is key — was not to make it easier to smoke but to collapse the illegal market and all the criminality that goes with it. It was as President Jose Mujica said: “the regulation of a market that already exists.”

I rather think that if cannabis were legalized, it may well draw people away from the illegal, expensive and dangerous cocaine, shabu, heroin, and ecstasy. Drug cartels would be decimated as sales fall. The killings associated with hard drugs would diminish. If you can get high legally, why become a criminal?

The adverse effects of cannabis are euphoria (that’s adverse? I’d rather like that), dysphoria (look it up; I did) and reduced motor and cognitive functions and alterations in perception (don’t drive or operate machines when under the influence).

Researchers found that marijuana has the lowest risk of mortality and is safer than alcohol and tobacco. The finding that marijuana has the lowest risk when compared with other drugs is not surprising; it just confirms previous researches that had found that marijuana is a substantially safer recreational drug than other commonly used recreational drugs. Further, the low risk of cannabis misuse suggests that the government should use “a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach” to manage the substance, the researchers noted.

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There’s a given that we have to accept: People are going to want to get high. For cannabis, that’s some 12,000 years of humankind seeking an escape.  As we’ve seen in the drug wars, people will go to extraordinary lengths and take high risks to get high. So if you don’t give them drugs, something else is needed. It’s here that I see a role for cannabis further down the road. I accept that we start with medicinal use and gaining experience on how to control it before widening it to recreational use, too. The world is moving that way, and we should follow.

If it’s true that there are risks of misuse in legalizing cannabis then there are risks of doing everything in life. Life is a risk. If humankind had taken no risks, we’d still be using clubs and spears.

Email: wallace_likeitis@wbf.ph. Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com.

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TAGS: cigarette smoking, Like It Is, marijuana, medical marijuana, Peter Wallace
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