Friday, March 7, 2014

Medical Marijuana, Or Holy Smoke That Was Dope!

After Inkatha Freedom Party politician, cancer victim and Member of Parliament Mario Oriani-Ambrosini introduced a discussion in the house on legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, South Africans have been abuzz about the possibility of this being passed as law.

Firstly I must confess that I have tried smoking marijuana or 'dagga' as it's commonly called, on one previous occasion, and immediately proceeded to cough so violently as to projectile vomit what I can only describe as a small ostrich clean across the length of my swimming pool. If 9 out of 10 doctors recommend Colgate, I'm always going to be the guy using Close Up. So it stands to reason that if 9 out of 10 of my friends enjoy smoking the occasional 'joint', I'm not surprised that I am THAT guy. The guy who can't handle his 'joint'. Admittedly I'm basing all of this on just one single attempt, but if that one attempt had me discussing religion and quantum physics with Elvis and Bob Marley until the early hours of the morning, I think it's fair to assume that a single 'joint' has the same effect on me as an entire pharmaceutical concoction has on Snoop Dogg. OK, bad example.
But you get my point.

So it was with interest that I followed the debate on whether marijuana should be legalized or not. Since I have no bias on the issue, being unfazed both literally and figuratively by the humble 7 leaf clover, I understood both sides of the argument while honestly only agreeing with one.

The marijuana smokers insist that the plant is not a drug. While it may have mild hallucinogenic properties, these can be equated to your morning caffeine fix or evening shot of whiskey. The addictive properties are no worse than cigarettes bought over the counter at your local cafe. The medicinal properties are too numerous to mention, but include pain alleviation and in certain cases, fighting off cancers and other nasty bodily afflictions. They make a fairly good argument for the legalization of marijuana.

The group opposed to the legalization of marijuana are simply durg-dealers of the worst kind in the pursuit of profits and personal gain.
Wait. That came out wrong.
The group opposed to the legalization of marijuana are simply the big pharmaceutical companies and their supporters who realize that legalizing the plant would cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue.
Yes. Billions of dollars.
Cancer is a huge money-spinner and cash-cow for pharmaceutical companies. I've done sufficient research on a drug companies business model to know what inspires them. If you think it's helping and healing the world, you're probably a recreational Tik smoker with a heavy drinking problem.
Drug companies make money off the manufacture of drugs for the management of the most common ailments and diseases.
Now read that line again slowly, a few times if need be, and allow it to sink in.
'Drug companies make money off the manufacture of drugs.' This we know.
'For the management of the most common ailments and diseases.' The management of... not the eradication of.
It's not a really smart business model to be manufacturing drugs that totally cure certain ailments. That kills off recurring business, and as we all know, it's recurring business that rakes in the profits.
You don't believe me?
Google "Why Drug Companies Don't Find Cures" and you will come up with about 350 million links.
Pick one. Any one. Then read and ask yourself why it all sounds so familiar.
The one I liked best was Why Medicine Won't Allow Cancer To Be Cured

Getting back to the legalization of marijuana.
Since drug companies can't regulate the sale of the plant and have no control over it's merchandise value and since there are no shareholders or boards of executives involved when growing this plant in your backyard, they simply fund lobby groups who in turn convince governments and law makers that the growing, harvesting, selling or use of the plant should be outlawed.
In essence, if they can't make money off the game, they might as well ban it.

It seems that the tide is turning, albeit slowly. People, ordinary citizens, are finally starting to protest in loud enough voices that governments and lawmakers are forced to sit up and take notice. It's happening all across the United States, it's happening across large parts of Europe, and it's happening right here on our very own doorsteps.
Expect the fightback from big pharmaceuticals to get more pronounced. Expect them to demonize dagga smokers and make you believe that they are all junkies. Expect to be told that crime rates will soar and road accidents will sky-rocket if marijuana is legalized.
When all is said and done, simply ask them why the number one cause of cancer is still being marketed and sold across the counter, across the world; why the number one cause of road fatalities throughout the world is still being marketed and sold at liquor stores and supermarkets and restaurants all across the planet; why the combined deaths from alcohol abuse and smoking-related cancer is so large on a pie-graph that the fatalities from marijuana use don't even feature as a pixel on the page. (I know because I actually tried doing such a pie-graph!)

We will never be able to remove money from the equation when it comes to public health or government for that matter. What we as citizens must do, and have every right to do, is make our voices heard loud enough and consistently enough that we effect the positive changes we deserve.