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Radical Rant: America, More People Smoking Pot is a Good Thing

Russ Belville

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Prohibitionists across the country are apoplectic about the latest news coming from the Gallup Poll. According to their latest survey, 13 percent of U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana, up from 7 percent just three years ago.

Run for the hills, the rate of marijuana smoking has almost doubled since legalization!

They say that like it’s a bad thing.

First off, let’s be accurate about what that poll has found: the number of adults who admit to being current tokers. There could very well have been one-in-eight marijuana smokers all along, but now, there are more who aren’t afraid to admit to doing something they can access legally.

This is backed up by survey data, which has found that 14 percent of people in the West (where it’s legal in four states) admit to being tokers, compared to just nine percent in the East and Midwest and only six percent in the South.

The “I can admit it now that it’s legal” phenomenon works its way into other statistics that prohibitionists like to regurgitate, like increases in emergency room admissions for accidental cannabis ingestion and increases in police catching suspected stoned drivers.

Back in the day, when you got yourself too high from eating an edible, you might be convinced to “ride it out” because admitting how you got sick would get you a ride in a cop car. Likewise, you might have been less likely to admit the source of an illness to the doctors when taking your sick kid to the ER, because telling them your kid ate pot would get you charged with child endangerment and your child taken away by the state.

Also back in the day, when you were a cannabis consumer out driving your car, you were more likely to keep your stash hidden and disguise your stoned state with eye drops, mouthwash and air freshener. Under legalization, cops are more diligent about catching us, and we’re less on our guard to deny any connection to cannabis.

But even if marijuana consumption has increased, this is no cause for alarm. Rather, we should be celebrating more adults consuming marijuana as a public health benefit.

We find out more and more every day about not just the therapeutic value of cannabis, but also its ability to be a preventative medicine. It’s not just a medicine you take when you’re sick and disabled, it’s a supplement you take to prevent sickness and disability and to enhance your pursuit of happiness.

Cannabis consumers are found to have lower body mass index and less incidence of diabetes. (I attribute my own health to this factor; diabetes runs strongly in my family, and I’m no dietary saint). We experience less incidence of head, neck and lung cancers than not just tobacco smokers, but non-smokers as well. We endure the aggregation of life’s aches and pains without the liver-harming acetaminophen pain relievers or the addiction and constipation of opioid pain killers.

It’s not just good for the body, it’s excellent for the brain, too. Our use of cannabis may be staving off the mental effects of aging like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We’re beating back depression and stress. Cannabis is proving to be highly effective for treatment of post-traumatic stress.

The harm-reduction aspects are undeniable. With the increase in cannabis consumption in medical marijuana states, we have seen a precipitous drop in the amount of prescription drugs it has replaced, especially opioid pain killers. We see fewer pain killer overdose deaths in those states. We see fewer suicides, especially among younger men, in those states. And even though we don’t condone teenage marijuana use, the fact more teenagers are now partying with pot instead of binge drinking means fewer dead teenagers from alcohol overdoses and drunk driving accidents.

If the drug companies presented to the government a compound that treated all the physical and mental conditions that cannabis does, replacing toxic, addictive prescriptions with such low side-effects and non-toxicity, and it improved mood and daily functioning, they wouldn’t be concerned that the use of this drug had doubled, they’d be trying to figure out promotions to increase its use even more.

Well, I mean, if they could patent it and sell it at a 569,958 percent markup. It’s not the health of the public that motivates prohibitionists; it’s the health of the pharmaceutical companies. They don’t hate that cannabis makes you high, happy and healthy; they hate that it doesn’t require their factories to produce it.

Last week’s Radical Rant: Save the Seattle Hempfest!

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