Unexpected and Welcome Openings toward Peace in the War on Drugs

1. Prague – The Czech government today approved the list of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms, including hemp, coca, mescaline cactus and magic mushrooms, and decided that people would be allowed to grow up to five pieces of such plants and keep 40 magic mushrooms at home. http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/zpravy/czech-govt-defines-rules-of-hallucinogenic-plants-growing/411010

2. An Alternet article reported on a poll that showed 53% of Americans support legalization of marijuana and that the growing acceptance is fueled largely by women having joined the movement for reform. http://www.alternet.org/blogs/DrugReporter/144496/daybreak_for_marijuana%3A_most_americans_support_legalization

In 2005, only 32 percent of polled women told Gallup they approved legalizing pot, but this year 44 percent of them were for it, compared to 45 percent of men. In effect, women have narrowed what had been a 12-point gender gap. Women are also smoking more weed. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that current marijuana use increased from 3.8 to 4.5 percent among women, while there was no significant statistical change for men.

The avenue through which women have been foremost leaders in the movement is medical marijuana advocacy. There are currently 13 states that have legalized medical marijuana use and at least 14 other states with pending legislation or ballot measures. In California, where cannabis has been legalized for medical use since 1996, a Field poll found 56 percent support for adult legalization — and the matter may very well make its way onto the 2010 ballot. Every woman I spoke to referenced cannabis’ medicinal properties as a major reason they are so personally impassioned by the marijuana reform debate.

The article tells the story of several women with severe medical problems of intractable pain, who overcame deeply ingrained prejudices to find relief with medical marijuana and became advocates for reform.

Julie Holland, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, has been called onto NBC’s Today Show twice now to explain why women are gravitating towards weed. During one of her appearances, Holland seemingly shocks the hosts by telling them that 100 million Americans have tried weed — 25 million of them over the past year. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 10.6 million women used marijuana in 2008. Also surprising to the TV hosts was Holland’s assertion that marijuana is the least addictive substance among many. According to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, the rate at which people who try a substance and go on to become addicted is 32 percent for nicotine, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine, 15 percent for alcohol, and 9 percent for cannabis. “Look at what the choices are. Cannabis isn’t toxic to your brain, to your liver, it doesn’t cause cancer, you can’t overdose, and there’s no evidence that it’s a gateway drug,” Holland said. “I believe that the majority of adults can healthfully integrate altered states into their lives, and it makes sense to do it with the least toxic substance you can. ” The public seems to agree.

The article goes on to raise the question “Why do girls smoke pot?”

Natalie Angier, for example. In her book Woman: Intimate Geography, this Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer interjects a personal note of — and case for — female empowerment through weed: All the women in my immediate family learned how to climax by smoking grass — my mother when she was over thirty and already the mother of four. Yet I have never seen anorgasmia on the list of indications for the medical use of marijuana. Instead we are told that some women don’t need to have orgasms to have a satisfying sex life, an argument as convincing as the insistence that homeless people like living outdoors. As Angier writes, alcohol is a “global depressant of the nervous system” so marijuana can be a woman’s best friend. In that vein, Holland has clinically observed that many of her female patients choose marijuana over alcohol — for all kinds of social situations — because it makes them “more present instead of absent. You can relax but not be incapacitated.”

The movement for marijuana legalization has a powerful economic argument in it’s favor.

With the largest economic recession since the Great Depression firmly in place, more people see the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana for adults. Economist Jeffrey Miron has calculated that, assuming a national market of about $13 billion annually, legalization would reap state and federal governments about $7 billion each year in extra tax revenues and save about $13.5 billion in law enforcement costs.

Trends indicate that as more states legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, more people will discover first-hand that legalization of marijuana does not equate with anarchy and instead with more effective control of a substance so readily available to Americans — and American kids — across the country. And as Californians may next year, Americans will soon be exposed to the choice between regulating marijuana for adult use or continuing a failed drug war that incarcerates 850,000 people a year — tearing apart families, ruining futures, and siphoning from public funds that might otherwise benefit the next generation. All this for a relatively mild psychotropic that at least a third of us has tried. As the recession continues to unravel communities across the country, the economic incentive to end this drug war will affect the opinions of many who might never otherwise have considered legalization. The time may very well be now. Similar to the prohibition of alcohol in the early twentieth century, what we have today is a federal policy that is at odds with public opinion. It is a policy without a plurality of citizen supporters. And many women are at the vanguard of the movement that recognizes this and is fighting for change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: