The ‘Green’ Herring

A poster for "Reefer Madness," an example of marijuana propaganda.

“Reefer Madness” is an example of anti-marijuana propaganda.

Aside from being a fish, a “red herring” is when someone deliberately introduces something into a debate that is meant to be misleading or distracting. Sadly, for those of us who follow the marijuana laws in this country, situations like the above are all too familiar – just watch “Reefer Madness” and see for yourself. In an attempt to ‘inform’ the public, this propaganda was made to scare people into believing that marijuana will make you, and everyone you know, “an insane murderous rapist!’’

Nowadays, people look at “Reefer Madness” as a comedy based on the ridiculous concept and overall pure stupidity of it, so it’s pretty hard to believe that it actually worked… but it did! During the 1920’s and 30’s, the media thought that violent behavior resulted from marijuana consumption, and Reefer Madness only caused more public fear and moral panic. Even today, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, and y’all know my opinion on that, which means we have to convince the people AND the government that there IS medical benefit to marijuana and that the law NEEDS to evolve. The debates turn into arguments, and emotions get in the way of change.

One of the most frequent arguments I hear on why medical marijuana is bad is “Marijuana doesn’t CURE everything/anything!” This is an intentional attempt to mislead the argument. Medical Marijuana may not be a cure-all, but there’s plenty of evidence and research that shows the medical benefits of marijuana. Have medical purposes? Absolutely. Cure-all? Only a snake oil salesman would try to convince anyone of that.

Here’s the thing though: Traditional medicine doesn’t cure everything either. The majority of traditional medication doesn’t cure anything at all. They are what are known as “symptomatic treatment,” which means they treat/help control the condition, not cure it. For example, I take my anti-seizure pills, but they haven’t cured my epilepsy. Even the brain surgery hasn’t cured my epilepsy. Neither of those things cured my epilepsy, they just helped me control it… just like medical marijuana. It just so happens that medical marijuana has far fewer and much less severe side effects.

A man holds out two hands. In his left hand are two pills, and in his right hand is MMJ.Prozac doesn’t cure depression; it treats it. Imitrex doesn’t cure migraines; it treats them. Insulin doesn’t cure diabetes; it controls it. Opioids don’t cure what’s causing the pain. Trileptal doesn’t cure epilepsy; it helps control seizures. Aubagio doesn’t cure Multiple Sclerosis; it helps treat the symptoms. One thing most of these medications unfortunately have in common is a side effect of exacerbating, or worsening, the condition it’s meant to treat. This means that anti-seizure medication can also cause more seizures.

Please do not take this as a condemnation of traditional medicine. It has gotten us this far after all! For everything I said about the anti-seizure pills, know that I still take mine daily. That being said, I fully believe that traditional medicine and medical marijuana go hand in hand. They may not cure, but they both sure can help.

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