Marijuana is just now starting to find its footing as a legitimate substance in the United States, like alcohol and tobacco.
If you ask some cannabis consumers, marijuana is not a drug, per se, but rather, it is a healing plant used to treat a variety of health conditions from anxiety to cancer. There are even those who believe that people who use marijuana are not of the same class as those who get high on hard drugs — that the pot user of today is thriving, earns a salary of $75K-plus per year and so forth. Yet, all one has to do is scour the crime news on the Internet on any given day to see that drug dealers and users, alike, are being apprehended, almost daily, for pot possession in conjunction with meth, heroin and prescription opioids.
If marijuana really is just medicine used by upstanding citizens, then why is it that this plant always seems to be associated with the dregs of society?
Marijuana is just now starting to find its footing as a legitimate substance in the United States, like alcohol and tobacco. It is now legal in more than 30 states for medicinal use, while 11 states have opened the doors for it to be used recreationally by adults 21 and older. But make no mistake about it, the plant is still mostly illegal in the United States.
The government maintains that it is a Schedule I dangerous drug — the same as heroin — and because of this classification, many states have opted to keep prohibition in place. This means that while marijuana is available to adults in California, people are not so lucky in states like Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
So it is still necessary for millions of Americans to continue purchasing cannabis from criminal organizations. It’s the reason that marijuana is often found on drug dealers, in addition to harder substances.
If you didn’t know this already, marijuana is the most popular drug in the world. Seriously, a World Drug Report published last year by the United Nations found that 188 million people as young as 15-years-old are now using cannabis all over the world. It’s a number that has continued to climb over the years, increasing by 62% from 2011 to 2017. In the United States alone, 12% of the population is now using cannabis regularly, according to a January 2020 Gallup poll. And remember, the herb is still mostly banned in the United States. But no one seems to care.
So, why is pot so popular?
Presumably, this has something to do with more people learning that all of the government propaganda spread over the years, the reefer madness of yesteryear was just a load of crap. Studies have shown that cannabis is, in fact, safer than most other illicit substances, the addiction rates are super low and regular use doesn’t exactly give way to the same downtrodden, death and destruction as harder drugs. Research has even shown that weed is safer than America’s two favorite drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Some 66% of the population now supports legalizing marijuana in a manner similar to those two substances.
But it is essential to understand that drug use is on the rise across the country. In 2013, it was estimated that 24.6 million Americans (roughly 10% of the population) had used an illegal drug within the past month. Some of that increase is due to the legalization of marijuana. And more than half of the illicit drug users are believed to have started with weed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Other drug use was either stable, declining or on the rise.
It is worth mentioning, however, that not all marijuana users are created equal. There’s always going to be casualties. Just the same as some people can drink in moderation while others habitually get into trouble because of alcohol, people are going to get jammed up over weed — legal or not. And while marijuana is not exactly a gateway drug — even the federal government admits that it’s not — it would be foolish to deny its place in the American drug culture.
Some folks smoke weed exclusively; others prefer to drink, while some enjoy drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin. And then, there is that special breed who will do any drug they can get their hands on at any given time. These are likely some of the people getting caught up in multi-substance drug busts across the country.
Considering the popularity of marijuana, it is going to have just as much of a place in oppressed society as it will among the prosperous. We’ve seen it happen for years with alcohol. There are winos, and there are aficionados. The only difference is one doesn’t have to make a court appearance on Monday.
Some of this could be remedied by allowing the herb to be taxed and regulated nationwide like alcohol and tobacco. It would at least alleviate some of the legal struggles for folks in trouble with the law for trying to buy it. After all, more than 600,000 people are still getting arrested for pot each year.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that legalization can do for those people who cannot manage their lives — with or without marijuana. It is important to remember that the mug shots of Americans busted in possession of pot in association with other drugs is not the norm. Many of these people are troubled, suffering from substance abuse disorders and could benefit from professional help.
The Fresh Toast is a daily lifestyle platform with a side of cannabis. For more information, visit www.thefreshtoast.com.