By Brianne Fitzgerald, Nurse Practitioner and the founder of Recoverymattersma.org.
There is a vast gap between the federal laws, policies and enforcement of cannabis and the current issues of legalization including medical marijuana, the buzz of marijuana as a gateway drug and the science related to it. This series is directed toward parents, teens and adults of all ages as a way to open dialogue (sorely missing in our country today) in order to make thoughtful decisions. The first article will discuss marijuana history, the next one what science says about marijuana, and the third piece will address issues of medical marijuana and after that…. send me your thoughts, ideas and opinions.
Marijuana has been used as an agent for achieving euphoria since ancient times. The first date that I saw was 2737 BC! The Spanish brought marijuana to the new world in 1545. The English brought it to Jamestown in 1611. Originally it was grown as a crop like tobacco prized for its hemp. In the 1920’s marijuana caught one perhaps in part due to prohibition. It became popular among jazz musicians and people in the arts (read Blacks). The use of it was accepted, it was not illegal and those who used it showed no evidence of making a nuisance in the community. It was socially acceptable. This was time when we had few medications (no penicillin) and so herbal meds including the use of marijuana was common. During the 1930’s a campaign opened by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics sought to portray marijuana as powerful addicting substance that would lead to opioid addiction. In the 1950’s into the 60’s and the summer of love or the Vietnam War (depending on how you experienced it) it was used by the beats, hippies, college students and GI’s. By 1970 The Controlled Substances Act classified marijuana along with heroin and LSD as a schedule 1 drug (high potential for abuse and no medical use). Labeling marijuana a schedule 1 drug makes it nearly impossible for those wishing to study the medical properties of this substances
In 1975 Mexico (where most of US marijuana had come from (think Acapulco gold) agreed to eradicate the crop using the poison paraquat. Columbia then became our main supplier and then came the drug wars, zero tolerance, mandatory sentencing for possession. In 1982 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which was established in 1973 turned its attention toward eradicating local marijuana farms and marijuana then went underground. After a period of decreasing use marijuana smoking began an upward trend in the early 1990’s especially among teenagers.
There were always undertones of race and stigma. The “locoweed” from Mexico and the racial tensions always simmering beneath the surface in this country contributed to the increasing federal regulation.
California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana followed by DC, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Maine. Today we have 32 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Washington and Vermont were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. As of today, there are 30 states plus DC that have legalized Marijuana in some form. Marijuana is legal throughout Canada.
So where are we headed today? The North American marijuana market made an astounding 9.7 billion in 2017 up 33% from the previous year. People you would have never thought would have gotten in on the feeding frenzy and are running marijuana companies (Think Andrea Cabral, Dan Linskey @ Ascend), and the projections for the future of marijuana in the global economy are limitless. Reports are that one in four young adults use marijuana. 64 % of Americans support marijuana legalization. Coca- Cola is looking at production of a marijuana infused drink. These days the talk is of putting your sagging 401 K earning into cannabis stock like Tilray (TLRY).