This comment is from Kathryn Blume, Director of Communications for NurseGrown Organics CBD in Underhill.
I can’t stop thinking about a recent testimony from State Rep. Arthur Peterson, R-Clarendon, regarding the latest wave of legislation to create a legal cannabis marketplace in Vermont. MP Peterson said, “As you all know, cannabis contains THC, which is a dangerous drug.”
This is the kind of misinformed remark that emerges from decades of successful anti-cannabis propaganda and legislation that would be just sad if it weren’t also historically rooted in systemic racism, white supremacy, and the accumulation of political power and control.
Cannabis is not a dangerous drug. In fact, over the decades there have been at least half a dozen government-commissioned scientific studies (not just in the US) to determine whether or not cannabis is dangerous. One of the most recent was the Shafer Commission, set up by the Nixon government.
Each time, every study has concluded that cannabis is not dangerous – including the Shafer Commission’s report that cannabis “does not cause widespread harm to society”. And each time the relevant government agency ignored the report and still declared cannabis dangerous.
In the US, we even went so far as to declare cannabis a List 1 drug, which means that “there is currently no accepted medical use in the US, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse ” Has .”
That means we think cannabis is more dangerous than Dilaudid, OxyContin, Morphine, Opium, Codeine, and Phenobarbital – all of which are on Schedule 2. This is tragic when you consider that more than 81,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that synthetic opioids are primarily responsible for these deaths, not cannabis.
Cannabis has been unjustly maligned and criminalized for decades, and more than 40,000 Americans – mostly black and browns – have been jailed for cannabis offenses and communities decimated as part of the politically motivated war on drugs.
I have a lot of experience with cannabis. For one, I’m allergic to alcohol, so it’s my favorite recreational drug. But to be honest, that was the least important part of my relationship with the plant. It is also an invaluable drug that helps with everyday problems such as menstrual cramps, hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, muscle aches, and mood lightening.
More importantly, I suffered a ruptured appendix and sepsis five years ago. I was in the hospital for two weeks and spent years recovering from the immense impact of the experience and an undiagnosed – and recently repaired – incisional hernia.
During my hospital stay and when I was discharged, I was given a number of opioid pain relievers for which I was given no instructions other than how much and how often to take. I had all sorts of nasty side effects and ended up spending two weeks in withdrawal trying to get rid of them.
I was incredibly lucky that I was able to take the time to lie there and suffer what I can only describe as uninterrupted, holistic pain. If I had had kids or a job, I would have given up and taken the pain medication again in the hopes of getting off them later. I have no doubt that this would have been an even worse way.
In all the years of using cannabis, I have never had the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of opioids.
That’s not to say that cannabis isn’t a potent plant. That’s it, and THC is a powerful substance – which is why over 5,000 Vermonters and over 5 million Americans suffering from everything from cancer to MS to chronic pain, Parkinson’s and PTSD are legally registered medical cannabis patients. Remember, during the pandemic, medical cannabis was so important to the people who took it that pharmacies were seen as a vital business.
And yes, it is possible to consume so much that you feel uncomfortable and become disoriented, confused, and paranoid. It has happened to me and a lot of people, and the public definitely needs to be educated about using because it is certainly not a fun experience and can be scary to the uninformed.
Also, some people who are prone to mental illness should definitely not use cannabis. But that’s a very small percentage of the population, and that doesn’t make THC as dangerous across the board as alcohol and opioids are.
This is because the neurological receptors for cannabinoids are not in the part of the brain stem (the medulla oblongata) that controls breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. So, unlike alcohol or heroin, you can’t consume too much cannabis and stop your heart or breathing.
In all honesty, I don’t care if someone wants to use cannabis or not. Every man for himself. But it is really unfortunate that someone should think it is dangerous. There are many things in the world to really fear, but THC is not one of them.