Rethinking the Negative Connotation of Cannabis

Growing up in New York, I briefly remember the D.A.R.E. events that took place in my elementary school gym class. Parents, teachers, and police officers were all there to support us in our abstinence. They would proceed to tell us that all drugs are bad — and if you ever did them, you’d start to abuse them, then go to jail, dropout, or die. It was part of a series of seemingly endless attempts to scare students and parents into staying far away from all types of drugs. However, the D.A.R.E. campaign ultimately failed. It did not prevent students from eventually using drugs, and even worse, we never learned any useful information about substances. Back then, I didn’t even know what a marijuana plant looked like — let alone which drugs were truly addictive (like the opiates and prescription pills that students eventually substituted for weed).

“Don’t smoke pot! It will make you dumb, lazy and you’ll move on to heroin.”

With all of the countless anti-weed preaching we’ve faced, you can understand why some people still demonize this ancient plant. All of my friends and family were misinformed about cannabis — we just accepted it.

I mean… it was illegal and it was bad for you, right? How could it actually benefit anyone?

I didn’t mind that people smoked it, I was OK with it. It would just make you laugh, get the munchies and sleep like a baby, but I still thought smoking it frequently wasn’t a smart thing to do. Over time, you would kill your brain cells, become unmotivated to work, and it would slowly ruin your life. That was my only known view of cannabis — until it changed forever.

As I started to read more case studies, research papers, and books by patients and doctors in the medical marijuana industry, I began to understand this plant’s history as a medicine. I learned how it can help alleviate chronic pain, quell seizures, and provide relief for harsh side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs and chemotherapy. I also have discovered that marijuana’s stereotypical negative effects on the brain turned out to be false. Researchers have found that cannabis has chemical contents, which are called cannabinoids, that interact directly with receptors in our brain called the endocannabinoid system. There are hundreds of different cannabinoids in a cannabis plant; the two most prevalent are usually THC and CBD. The most notorious cannabinoid is THC. It produces the high feeling that you would usually associate marijuana with. Some people, like myself, used to think things like, “THC makes you high, slow and stupid. If anything, it can only be used for pain relief or increasing appetite, right?


Instead, cannabinoids can prevent the growth and spread of cancer.

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties” Dr. Peter McCormick, a researcher from University of East Anglia in England.

Yeah… I didn’t believe the anti-cancer claim either.

That’s gotta be impossible, it’s just friggin’ weed.

Then I took the time to consider why I thought it was impossible in the first place. It’s due to all of the negative connotations of marijuana that have been relentlessly drilled into our heads. We were taught nothing else about marijuana except to avoid it.

Once I started learning more about the plant, I began to reconsider my view of it. These anti-cancer studies started coming from legitimate sources such as the National Cancer Institute and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Even more studies have found that THC cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half and also prohibited the cancer from spreading. THC has also been shown to induce death in brain cancer cells.

Comparatively, CBD also has anti-cancer properties, but it doesn’t contain the same psychoactive ingredients as THC. Therefore, it does not get you high. Instead, CBD been shown to effectively stem seizures in children with epilepsy.

With all of these recent discoveries and the possibility of a valid treatment on the horizon, the National Epilepsy Foundation has recently called for increased medical marijuana access and research.

According to the DEA, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has absolutely no medicinal value and it cannot be studied. But why?

There are a significant amount of illnesses that can be treated with cannabis.

I mean… it stops seizures and fights cancerous cells, ffs.

Cannabis works well for patients; it doesn’t have any dangerous side effects, and you cannot overdose on it — unlike other prescribed medicines such as Benzodiazepine, Oxycodone and Xanax.

In the end, the truth is actually pretty simple.

Thomas Edison said it over 100 years ago:

“There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of disease as now, and all their discoveries are tending toward the simple truth that you can’t improve on nature.” Thomas Edison, 1902

Or in other words:

Now at this point, you may be thinking, “OK… while cannabis helps people battle cancer and epilepsy, cigarettes and pills kill hundreds of thousands of people a year… so, why is cannabis still illegal?”

Fortunately, according to a recent Gallup poll, the majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis — especially for medicinal purposes. Rather than listening to the good ol’ government propaganda, people are starting to change their perspectives about the plant.

Over the next few years, more people will continue to learn about the positive effects of cannabis from patient success stories and personal experiences. The number of people who support legalization will steadily increase as future research studies will produce detailed evidence about marijuana’s medicinal properties. When it comes time to vote, more people will be there to support the new legislation, and the remaining states will continue to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes. Soon, we can expect to live in a society where patients are not prosecuted nor denied access to a safe and effective medicine.