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Opinion

Tobacco kills, cannabis could positively impact the world

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April 29, 2015

I never finished my planned review for “The Culture High,” but then the often glamorized “holiday” of 4/20 became a fitting reminder and reason to finish it. Cannabis is the topic of the documentary, and it brings up many points which merit elaboration.

First, tobacco, a widely available and legal plant, is dangerous to consume, while cannabis, according to some research, is not as much so.

Tobacco has led to the lifelong addiction and eventual death of millions to the point where, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 480,000 people die every year due to smoking-related causes. Ask just about anyone what they associate smoking with and they will likely tell you “cancer,” or “death.” Watching someone fall into the addiction can be hard, but their decision has to be respected. The risk is common knowledge.

The U.S. puts huge amounts of tax dollars into fighting the use of cannabis. The money that could be saved with the legalization of cannabis would be astronomical. It would also give the police less reason to undertake the militarization process for their forces.

The current militarization of the police has led to a new reality of what constitutes as a search. Drug arrests from the police are number driven. The seized drug money becomes police money for more military equipment.

In the time of global recession and recovery, it could be a help to fully introduce the cannabis industry to the country legally and let it take off. Colorado has proven that the industry can instantly thrive in an open market, instead of the criminalized black market.

Cannabis law has also become a race and class issue. The relation to innate human qualities are at play; the desire to experience an alternative state of mind. Alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and medical drugs change the way we feel, recover and think.

The wide versatility of cannabis outnumbers all other plants on the planet, and there are a growing number of uses being discovered. It can be made into fuel, food and clothing. It can cover the basic needs of a human while growing consistently, averaging a consistent dozen feet every four months. Wherever the seeds are tossed, it will grow, nearly anywhere in the world.

Cannabis can be bred or designed to satisfy a specific use. It can be streamlined for effectiveness. It all depends on the strains. The sculpting of exclusive strains will certainly become the future of the business down the road of time.

A chemical component of cannabis, called CBD, doesn’t affect the brain in a psychoactive way like THC. With first use, without feeling “high,” epileptic patients can be seizure-free.

37 states have approved medical or CBD-specific cannabis laws, including four states with fully legalized recreational cannabis law: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Colorado has the most wide-open market and is arguably producing the highest quality cannabis in the world. Washington has a limited number of government sanctioned spots. Before the ink was dry, everyone knew it would be vastly short of filling demand.

National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws founder Dr. Grinspoon said in “The Culture High” that “the cat is out of the bag now, and it’s not going back in.”

I hope the laws continue to open up at an increasing pace, and that the industry continues to try and self-regulate. Cannabis, if opened up, could benefit the entire world.

Jack Haren is a journalism student with a political science minor. His free time is spent snowboarding, skateboarding, reading, writing, designing, listening, experimenting and living minimally. In the future he wishes to freelance and travel the world.