(a recap of my individual experience in a group project) [Originally on Facebook]
The genesis of our team project to explore the implications of Cannabis Prohibition took place in the classroom, on the suggestion that like-minded classmates pair up to complete their research and presentation. I have been personally working my own brand of activism on this subject, with Free the Leaf, for a number of years and the opportunity to present on the matter to any audience, was too important to my heart to pass up. Leaving class after the announcement of the assignment, most of us asked each other what potential curiosities they wished to explore. I immediately stated “Cannabis Reform,” which caught immediate looks, but also immediate inquiries. “You mean ‘Marijuana?’”
A question I have answered thousands of times, this query was answered quite routinely, with “Cannabis. Marijuana. Hemp. The same plant that has THC is also capable of making everything around you. Clothes, Paper, Tables, Carpets, etc. Let alone its miraculous potential as a medicine.” Oftentimes, this answer is compounded with another question following: “So, are you for ‘Legalization?’” in this case, again my answer was Yes. But it was this conversation which made me realize that, because of the focus on Cannabis being wrapped in the Marijuana Issue for generations, people weren’t necessarily aware of “Hemp.” I forgot that I was once unaware of abundance of claims I made to my classmates, but I had their captive attention and this had the benefit of stoking my excitement for a productive conversation.
“Seriously?” was asked many times that day, by John and Jermaine when presented with study after study of scientifically researched claims. To me, and after that point, them, Cannabis is seemingly “too good to be true,” so the obvious question—why is the use of this plant criminalized?—becomes almost a mandated personal mission to understand and solve. Very early in the semester we decided that we would work together to bring our conversation to the whole classroom. We each had concerns about how and what to present. For many years, discussion of the issue in our Media has been loaded with puns, pejoratives and misinformation, drenched in stigma, and scoffed at as taboo. However, before its Prohibition, this stigma did not exist. Cannabis, upon just moments of study, was a historical medicine and agricultural staple for its strong and versatile fiber. We chose to make our presentation entirely “stigma-free” and expand upon these historical claims.
I often say that the Issue is 1/50,000th “Smokeable Cannabis,” with the ‘1’ being ‘Marijuana’—the diversion—and the ’50,000’ representing ‘Hemp’ and its potential applications. And it has been well traced and argued that Cannabis became taxed at the favor of Big Industry. Shortly thereafter, its use as a “drug” was established and criminalized, even though the psychoactive properties of THC were experienced and enjoyed by royalty, the middle-class, and the proletariat throughout history in various modes of consumption. After it was outlawed as Marijuana, Hemp, which had fallen out of favor in America from taxation and the subsidy of other crops, was outlawed; the reason being that it ‘looks like’ marijuana. Sounds dangerous to me! With this logic winning the argument against us, we got deeper into the discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and at some point, specifically, Article 25.
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…
Because this article names the defined capabilities of this Plant, why is it not employed to assist in the creation and maintenance of well-being in our society? Science is well versed in the study of the Human Cannabinoid System; wherein our bodies have receptors ‘designed’ to receive Plant Cannabinoids; and that the satiation of these receptors is indicative of positive health and well-being, whether the Cannabinoids have been acquired by the plant or self-created. Again, why is it Criminalized?! To return to the ‘50,000’—its holistic use—you find matters that Cannabis handles easily—“food, clothing, housing”—which the substitution of this plant in their construction could replace petrol-plastics (consider the fertilizer of your foods) with a “clean, green and sustainable” alternative.
Our takeaway with these discussions, and the angle and style in which we chose to present has us wanting the listener to, at the very least, consider this argument again, without the intrusion of stigma, and to juxtapose this information against Declarations that the United States have participated in: Rather than the exorbitant sums of capital allocated to prosecuting consumers of this plant; rather than continue the devastating impact that Prohibition has wrought on the health of our Earth and her Society, Cannabis should be utilized, even embraced, as the cost-effective delivery mechanism of a Human Right for the well-being of All. It is a means to achieve that which we aspire to, is it not?