Heroin and cocaine are killing people. Heroin, a Schedule I narcotic, is like a beast constantly riding users, who eventually surrender and know there is no escape. If they run out, they get deathly ill and will do nearly anything to get enough money for a fix. Cocaine, a drug of abuse on Schedule II, offers a similar life-degrading experience, along with permanent destruction of the nasal septum and sinuses in many users. As a bonus, like the making of ecstasy (also on Schedule I), cocaine manufacture is a rainforest-ruining environmental nightmare.
Cannabis is different
Cannabis is different. It’s seen as an alternative choice for relaxing, socializing, meditating, and so on. It’s more akin to having a glass or two of wine, but without the many known dangers of alcohol, an addictive and lethal drug.
The contrast between herb and harsher, more dangerous drugs like heroin, cocaine, and pills couldn’t be starker. Consumers of cannabis enjoy a mild euphoria, some giddiness or giggliness, along with a sense of relaxation, enhanced conversation, and elevated mood; later, they sleep soundly. They can still walk, talk, hold a pen steady, perform normal body functions. If they run out, they either shrug it off or maybe get a little grumpy – not violent or homicidal. Not willing to hock their grandmother’s medical equipment for more. Cannabis also can be grown in a totally sustainable manner that helps, rather than hurts the environment.
No, really different
Cannabis is also very different from other known substances in that it lives a dual life. It is at once both a strikingly effective medicine for countless ailments (in many cases better than pharmaceutical drugs) AND, if one is not sick or in pain, also a safe social relaxant. In fact, the DEA’s own chief administrative law judge in 1988 called cannabis “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” and recommended its reclassification to Schedule II.
That was nearly 30 years ago before we knew all we now know about the amazing healing powers and relative safety of the humble cannabis plant. Even the lowest drug schedule (V), with its opium and codeine elixirs, is no place for such a comparatively weak, stubbornly non-toxic item. Much smarter would be to make cannabis legal and regulate it like alcohol and tobacco (lethal and addictive, yet not controlled substances), so we can focus law enforcement on dealers bringing in deadly things like meth, cocaine, and heroin.
Doing so would send a dual message: Adults in a free society should be free to choose a less harmful alternative to alcohol for socializing and opioids for pain; and the US can tell the difference between hard drugs, which are dangerous and deadly, and cannabis, which is not. Since cannabis is a mainstream alternative for mainstream Americans, exempting from scrutiny that large segment of society using it for medicine or light relaxation would free up enormous law enforcement resources in manpower and money to focus instead on traffickers in heroin and cocaine and other seriously harmful drugs. This is a sensible move down the path of personal responsibility and freedom
Can cannabis acceptance unify North America?
At the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) 2016, Canada and Mexico announced their intentions to legalize cannabis. Several other nations have already done that or decriminalized it, and more are on the way. This will only put added pressure on the US to enter the third millennium and get with the program. If all three would legalize it, they’d be much more able to pursue heroin, which is killing kids attracted by its low cost and ready availability compared to their drug of choice, prescription painkillers. Government agents at the border need to be allowed to quit worrying about weed and focus on the real stuff. Just imagine how much more effective they could be.
Common sense dictates that if alcohol and cigarettes are lethal yet legal, and considered “soft drugs” for free adults to use if they so choose, then logically, non-toxic cannabis should certainly be considered the same.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, entrepreneur, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, which manufactures the appliance he invented for converting cannabis to edible form. Angel is committed to cannabis law reform and was named to the CNBC NEXT List of global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—veterans and children who need cannabis therapy when traditional treatment options have failed. Angel’s charity helps families relocate to states where cannabis medicine is legally accessible.