It is quickly and finally becoming commonplace for legislators, celebrities, and news programs to speak positively about cannabis and the entire legalization movement. And for good reason: With examples of effective regulatory systems and medical success stories now widely available, the stigma surrounding public support for the movement is wafting away. We’ve recently even passed the milestone of serious presidential candidates calling for an end to the drug war.
The uncouth untruth
Yet, there is still an astonishing array of misinformation, if not conscious misdirection, about cannabis out there. It comes across as a last, gasping grasp, clinging to the dead-end ideals of the disastrous and racist drug war. This is to be expected from certain private individuals and institutions; but, sadly, even federally supported nonprofits and programs can go down this road.
Nonprofit organizations can be funded by federal grants or private (tax-deductible!) donations, which one would think might require a certain level of honesty or integrity. But alas, the ironic truth is that many organizations promoting “drug-free” agendas are often supported by the very companies that profit from certain types of drug use. After all, companies in the pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco industries have to at least appear to make some effort to curb abuse of their products.
Money makes the world go round
Organizations and coalitions like the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), for example, tout anti-drug missions in order to make “communities safe, healthy and drug-free” while listing pharmaceutical, television, insurance, and even donut companies as crucial to their operations.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids lists numerous pharmaceutical companies as partners. Meanwhile, underage overdose rates in the U.S. continue to rise.
The Drug-Free America Foundation aims to work toward sustainable ideas to reduce if not eliminate problems associated with drugs in the United States. Unfortunately, DFAF operatives have knowingly mislabeled effective harm reduction programs (which have done more to combat problems with drugs than the drug war ever has) as “harm promotion” on their website and committed other similarly noteworthy “errors” regarding drugs and the people who use them.
Read at your own risk
Even a casual glance at the Q & A section on “marijuana” entails the risk of being infected with ignorance. What is presented as credible information for a concerned public is instead littered with nonsensical and patently false messages, such as that the raw cannabis plant has no value. Curiously, consumers of liquor and cigarettes are left in peace to enjoy their drugs of choice — which, unlike cannabis, actually are physically addictive, lethal, and without medical value. One can only $peculate on why that would be, in the context of the entire point being to save society from harmful drugs.
A basic understanding of biology and nutrition tells us that if any substance of value to the human body is within a plant, that substance’s bioavailability — ease of absorption — is generally higher in the actual plant itself than in pills and higher in raw plants than in cooked ones. So, to label as useless any plant with medicinal value in its raw form (except a plant that is poisonous when consumed raw) is grossly inaccurate.
To be fair, there is still much research to do on the use of raw cannabis (which is non-psychoactive). But we already know cannabis has no lethal dose and is not poisonous in any form. Thus, there is no logical reason for anyone to be deprived of the startling health benefits from the raw plant juice, which include cancer cell suppression, muscle spasm and seizure relief, and reduction of inflammation, the root cause of most disease.
There is also the claim that cannabis consumption via vaporization or ingestion is no better than smoking (probably the least ideal way to extract health benefits from…just about anything, really). This of course directly follows a statement warning about the dangers of inhaling burning plant matter.
Of course, synthetic options like the Marinol pill — single-molecue THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), stripped of the supporting compounds found in the flower — are still touted as the best alternative to smoking. However, besides lacking the well-known “entourage effect” of the multiple cannabinoids and terpenoids in natural cannabis, pills like Marinol carry the same risks as edibles. A pill has a non-negotiable dosage, and it does not help anyone seeking immediate relief from pain or nausea.
Logically, smokeless methods at least avoid the inhaling of smoke, which must make them easier on the lungs at least. But beyond the obvious sparing of the lungs, ingesting cannabis can also be a sensible alternative for other reasons. Effects can be more potent and long-lasting due to the actions of the liver and digestive tract. Medibles travel better, emit no odor, and are far more discreet to use, especially in public places where smoking is not permitted.
Start low, go slow
Dosage can be harder to determine with edibles than smoking, in large part because of how much quicker the effects of smoked cannabis are felt (10 seconds) than those of edibles (60-90 minutes). This is a challenge easily met by doing a little reading, taking it easy, and by knowing exactly what you’ve just ordered off the menu. The most sensible adage to follow here is: “Start low, and go slow.”
Better still, patients can take even more control and make their own edibles, extracts, or tinctures at home with a countertop infuser from MagicalButter®. With a Botanical Extractor™ you can make your own oils and extracts at home with precise control over dosage and concentration. Toss your ingredients inside, and press a button. The extractor does all the work. It’s perfect for anyone looking for the benefits of cannabis without the smoke.
In short, it pays to be careful where you get your information, to get it from everywhere, and to be discerning. Sometimes, even nonprofits appearing to have educational missions are not necessarily unbiased in their presentation of the truth as they understand it. A quick look at who supports the organization that is your information source may reveal that the whole “Just say no” message is more “Say no to theirs, but yes to ours.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Arizona and raised in Maryland and Guinea, West Africa, Zach Brown claims the D.C. metro area as his home turf. He is currently back in Africa writing, teaching English as a second language, and making music in Bamako, Mali. Zach is an Eagle Scout who earned a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland. He was also president of the UMD chapters of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy).