BUSINESS

Opinion: Marijuana is a gateway drug to pain relief, relaxation and potential statewide economic prosperity

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Photo of smoke in the air. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

Anna Margaret Foster
Oxford Stories
smfoster@go.olemiss.edu

In March of 2016, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program also known as DARE removed cannabis from the “gateway” drug list. This sparked controversy and many people around the country questioned what makes marijuana different from other drugs?

The idea of gateway drugs has been around since many can remember. According to Matt Gonzales with DrugRehab.com, the definition of a gateway drug is “a habit-forming drug that leads to the use of other, more addictive drugs.” However, this is not true for many, and every marijuana user knows that the only place a high leads you is to the food pantry. By removing marijuana from the list of gateway drugs, DARE shows the importance of cannabis in our culture.

Countless hours of research has proven that marijuana usage has many medicinal effects, including the treatment of epilepsy, cancer, headaches, body pain, and depression. For example, a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted by the California Pacific Medical Centre determined that cannabidiol, a compound derived from the marijuana plant, inhibits human breast cancer cell growth and significantly reduces tumor mass.

Another study published in the journal Oncogene by Harvard Medical School’s Experimental Medicine Department determined that THC (the primary ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel high) prevents lung cancer cell growth. The scientists behind this experiment reported that THC and other cannabinoids should be explored as therapeutic molecules that control the growth of lung cancers. Finally, Dr. Mark Ware, assistant professor of anesthesia and family medicine at McGill University in Montreal, conducted an experiment proving that three puffs of marijuana a day helps people with chronic pain from injury or surgery feel less pain and sleep better.

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Medicinal Marijuana Plant Garden on the University of Mississippi’s campus in Oxford. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

These are just a few of the many studies conducted that show the medical benefits of cannabis, but more than just science has proven these benefits. Every day, people share their testimonies about how cannabis has helped them in times of illness and in reducing pain and discomfort.

For example, an article by Justin Kander published on MedicalJane.com tells the story of Debbie Wilson and how cannabis helped her treat trauma induced epilepsy. After smoking, Wilson said she immediately noticed an improvement in headaches and within weeks, her number of seizures dropped drastically.

Iowa resident Jessica Eberhart said cannabis oil treatments are helping her daughter, Hannah, battle pediatric lymphoma. Hannah was unable to use cannabis oil while undergoing chemotherapy, but was given the oil the day she got out of the hospital. Eberhart immediately began seeing benefits in her daughter. Hannah’s hair stopped falling out, her appetite returned, and she was much less nauseous. In February of 2015, Hannah was declared in remission. Her parents, nurses, and doctors have all credited marijuana for the amazing improvement.

As the idea of legalizing marijuana spreads throughout the states, the economic benefits of the plant seem to catch many people off guard. With Colorado being the first to legalize cannabis in 2012, many people were shocked to see how much revenue it brought to the state in just a few years.

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at Colorado State University-Pueblo reported that the marijuana industry has had an economic impact of more than $35 million in Pueblo County, Colorado alone. An article published in Fortune magazine by Tom Huddleston Jr. said Colorado, as a whole, reported almost $1.1 billion in legal sales of both medical and recreational marijuana in the year 2016.

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Picture of a tobacco store. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

Think about these numbers. What could these numbers do for the state that you live in? States like Mississippi could have enough money to improve infrastructure and create jobs for a state with an extremely high unemployment rate. Funding to the public-school system would also flourish tremendously, and children would be given the necessary means to succeed. Highways, roads, and bridges would be paved for a safer driving environment. These are just a few economic benefits of cannabis, and many people still believe it is a horrible and addictive drug.

Throughout my childhood, cannabis was portrayed as a harmful drug that no one should do. I strongly believe the reason marijuana is so looked down upon today is because of stereotypes. You will not turn into a Rasta-man listening to Bob Marley overnight or a guy that never comes out of his dorm room to go to class.

For many, marijuana is a way to ease pain and get comfort. For others, it is a way to relax and get away from the stresses of the everyday world. And some say weed is an excuse to stay in on Friday night and eat a whole pizza by yourself. This is just the stone age of marijuana, and it is up to us as a country to keep perfecting and normalizing the use of this plant.

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