Yes, I inhale. I am one of more than 100,000 California medical cannabis patients. I use cannabis, marijuana, pot or whatever you want to call it, to alleviate symptoms from post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders. Cannabis allows me to forget about my neuroses and live a productive life as a student, volunteer, and activist.
The U.S. government likes to paint cannabis as an evil monster, but that is not true. Most taxpayers are tired of billions of dollars being spent to wage a drug war that's done nothing but widen the profit margin of drug dealers and placed millions of cannabis users in prison. Many people think it's time to legalize cannabis; why does the Drug Enforcement Agency insist on maintaining these outdated laws?

The United States has prohibited cannabis since 1937. Our government created propaganda to scare Americans into criminalizing cannabis. Anti-cannabis ads depicted smokers as crazed criminals, like in the propaganda movie "Reefer Madness."

According to the documentary "Grass," Harry Anslinger was responsible for the spread of horror stories that demonized cannabis users as rapists, violent criminals and murderers. Anslinger, the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, also stated that cannabis use was spread by racial minorities like black jazz musicians and Chinese and Mexican immigrants. In fact, the term marijuana, a derivative of Maria Juanita -- meaning the Virgin Mary -- was first used by Anslinger as a way to associate the plant with Mexicans.

Before Anslinger got on his anti-cannabis bandwagon, the plant had been used industrially for many purposes: medicines, tonics, a plastic-like material, clothes, ropes and canvas. You could even use it for energy. Farmers used cannabis as a rotation crop because of its natural ability to keep the soil nitrogen rich, reversing soil depletion. Henry Ford even developed a car that had a cannabis-based body that could withstand a crowbar beating without denting. With all its positive uses, it's a mystery why cannabis remains illegal.

People against legalization argue that it is harmful, it kills brain cells, makes you stupid or lazy and, in a catch-22, it should be illegal because it's illegal. These reasons aren't hard to prove irrelevant: The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report "Marijuana and Medicine" said dependence on cannabis is relatively rare and less severe compared to other drugs. Their studies didn't show that cannabis caused brain damage. Check out for more info.

Looking back at prohibition, we realized criminalizing alcohol did not stop consumption but drove it underground, making many people richer through black-market sales. Prohibition made money for corrupt law officials, bootleggers like the Kennedy family and owners of secret speakeasies where people could illegally buy alcohol. Cannabis should not be treated any differently.

Cannabis consumers have families, do volunteer work, pay taxes and -besides a love for the herb -- are law-abiding citizens. Yet they are routinely discriminated against because of their decision to use cannabis for medical, spiritual, social or other personal purposes. Cannabis consumers are not second-class citizens. The discriminatory ban on cannabis use needs to end now.

If cannabis remains illegal, its consumers will be demonized and remain criminalized forever. If the Victory Act passes, cannabis users could be designated as terrorists, along with all illegal drug users, even if you are a medical user. I don't want to find myself being "safe housed" in Guantamano Bay for an indefinite amount of time just because I am vocal and honest about my medicinal marijuana use.

The DEA says cannabis is dangerous. But the only danger I've ever encountered is persecution by our government. We need to stop the elite ruling class from lying about the dangers of cannabis. We need to step up, circulate petitions and vote to pass a new compassionate cannabis law that underscores the need for this helpful plant.

Source: Orion, The (CA Edu)
Author: Adrian Aguila, Guest Columnist
Published: May 05, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Orion