Social reform often experiences the journey of change at a pace of two steps forward, one step back.
In countries around the world, new laws are passed, legislation is created, and then some world leader opens their mouth and reminds us that Reefer Madness ignorance is alive and well in some social circles.
This week’s step back was courtesy of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Theresa May. During a live Facebook Q&A hosted by ITV, the Prime Minister outlined her reasons for not wanting to legalize cannabis in any form — Marijuana.com fact checked each of her statements:
“There have obviously been some studies into the use of cannabis or derivatives for medical use.”
This statement is entirely true, although significantly understated by the Prime Minister. In fact, there have been hundreds of reliable studies all over the world that show cannabis is a viable and powerful substance that can be used to treat many medical conditions.
In 2015, a study in Israel showed that cannabis treatment for certain cancers helped slow tumor growth and promoted cancer cell death. In fact, the U.S. National Cancer Institute states on their website that marijuana can be an effective tool in treating cancer.
A number of studies over the last few years in Israel, Colorado, and the Czech Republic have found that cannabis can alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in patients who use it daily.
A 2016 study out of New Zealand found that the severe motor and vocal tics brought on by Tourette Syndrome were controlled using cannabis-based medicine.
An early 2017 report published in Australia found that using cannabis to treat pancreatic cancer greatly enhanced the ability of existing treatments.
A March 2017 study in Mexico on Refractory Epilepsy in children found that 81.3% of surveyed patients showed a dramatic reduction in seizures with the use of cannabidiol (CBD).
A recent report out of the United States found that children with severe autism had better communication, lessened anxiety, and better social interaction when treated with cannabis medicine.
The list goes on and on — the National Center for Biotechnology Information lists at least 100 published studies on cannabis as a viable treatment for cancer.
“The reason I don’t believe in making cannabis use legal is because of the impact I see it having on too many people in terms of the drug use … it can also of course lead to people going on to harder drugs.”
The old “marijuana is a gateway drug” has long been the go-to talking point among prohibitionists and anti-pot lobbyists alike. The problem is, it simply isn’t true.
Last August, the Baker Institute at Rice University concluded a 40-year study which showed alcohol, not marijuana, was actually the “gateway drug” that opened the doors to possible addiction.
By the end of 2016, the Clinical Psychology Review published research which showed that marijuana can act as a way to get addicts off of opioids and other harsher substance abuses.
Even the former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that marijuana is not the catalyst for harsher drug use. That distinction, according to the AG, goes to prescription opioids.
“What we’ve seen is stronger forms now being used — I think it can have a real impact on people in terms of their mental health.”
A plethora of research has been done into whether or not using cannabis affects mental health negatively. The conclusions have surprised many doctors because the answer is no, it does not.
A study led by psychiatrist Igor Grant, MD. in 2003 at the University of California, San Diego concluded that even daily, long-term cannabis use does not cause brain damage. A much more recent study at Columbia University in the United States confirmed the same results.
On the flip side, researchers at the University of British Columbia concluded that marijuana does help people with mental health disorders. This includes anxiety, depression, and even PTSD.
One of the concerns of various countries, is marijuana’s effect on developing young brains. Prime Minister May clearly has not read the literature on the fact that legalized and regulated marijuana helps decrease access for those underage.
“[Marijuana use] has a huge impact on families.”
On this point, we agree with Prime Minister May, but from an entirely different point of view. Adult-use marijuana use does have an impact on families, through unnecessary arrests of hundreds of thousands of individuals at the expense of billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Many parents and children have been separated over simple possession convictions.
In 2016, the Washington Post reported that American “police arrest more people for marijuana use than all other violent crimes — combined.” With an intimate understanding of the wasted time and energy spent on simple marijuana arrests, many individuals in law enforcement have called for a moratorium on minor cannabis charges.
Medicinal cannabis does have life-changing positive effects on families. There are thousands of young children with debilitating conditions that include epilepsy, autism, and pediatric cancer — conditions that often do not respond to traditional pharmaceutical treatments. With doses of marijuana as medicine, many patients and their families are able to enjoy an entirely new level of normalcy and fulfillment in what would otherwise be a very challenging existence.
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey