By Jake Sallerson
Why is marijuana illegal?
Upon a similar frame of reference, keep the following question in the back of your mind: Why are cigarettes a controlled substance?
If we look at marijuana from the appropriate angle of analysis to understand what is preventing us from legalizing it, instead of allowing our distrust of the substance due to historical precedent, we may see a whole new perspective on this topic.
When we compare THC consumption to marijuana consumption, we can quickly separate these two entities. To say THC doesn’t have positive benefits could be a fatal error. And saying smoking marijuana isn’t harmful could be equally as fatal.
The body is an amazing and extraordinary thing. We can put all sorts of things into it, and generally it does a fantastic job of taking in the good and expelling the bad or unnecessary as waste. The trick to this magic ability is that we don’t inhale our food through our lungs.
The lungs are designed for one purpose only: to filter oxygen out of the composite makeup that is air. The moment we put anything else into our lungs we choke and given the length of the choking event, it could lead to brain damage from lack of oxygen or even death.
It is clear from a common sense point of view that regardless of what is being absorbed as smoke into the lungs, smoke is harmful to the body. The lungs suffer physically in their ability to convert air to oxygen, the brain suffers as it receives less oxygen, and body functions suffer because the brain is not operating at optimal efficiency due to lack of oxygen.
Is smoking marijuana harmful and/or bad for the body? Yes.
Is consuming THC into the bloodstream bad for the body if not consumed from smoking? Not necessarily, no.
The question becomes, is marijuana illegal because of the way in which it is typically consumed via smoking and absorption through the lungs?
If we choose to make it illegal to smoke marijuana but not illegal to consume marijuana, could we reach a compromise?
If we could identify and accept the positive benefits of the substance, the way the body accepts the food we put into it and uses those foods positively while expelling, we might move toward having a real conversation about legalizing the substance. Because once we are no longer causing immediate, direct harm to our own bodies, then what argument is left as to why it should remain illegal any longer?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The discussion shifts from whether or not the method of ingesting marijuana is harmful and instead becomes a discussion about whether or not its properties, once absorbed into bloodstream in a way that doesn’t harm the body, are positive or negative.
And that is a debate worth having.
Make it illegal to smoke marijuana. Hell, make it illegal to smoke anything, but make sure the conversation fits within a reasonable arena in which to actually hold the debate. Instead of convoluting the topic with reasons as to why such a thing is too dangerous to consider in the first place, let’s analyze it scientifically when the well-being of the body is no longer in jeopardy.
At least then we’d all be putting forth our viewpoints knowing the advocates of legalization understand the health concerns of those opposed, and those opposed would understand the viewpoints of the advocates who cite the positive value marijuana may offer when safely ingested.
It’s time we change the focal point of the conversation to substance rather than one in which personal opinion dominates, rather than science.
The scientist Neil Degrasse Tyson said you can’t disagree with E=MC2 just because you don’t believe in it; you don’t have that option. Science is irrefutable due to the way in which we determine it: trial and error from varying viewpoints and a multitude of surveyors. Conjecture is reached, fact is determined, and we move on.
Education is truly the answer. Otherwise we are doing ourselves, our peers, our families and our species a disservice by placing our own viewpoints ahead of rationality, logic and science.
Vermont has led in so many areas over many centuries. To properly take humanity’s viewpoint and usage of marijuana effectively and positively into the greater 21st century, the world needs an example from which it can follow.
We can be that example, and we can extrapolate our ability to change the tone of the conversation about one of substance and apply it in all areas of political discussion. There is no problem we cannot solve, as long as we are asking the right questions in the correct manner.
Life is full of crises. “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.” – JFK
Sallerson lives in Warren.