Medical research on the strengths and limitations of cannabis are limited. Due to marijuana remaining illegal under federal law, researchers struggle to ascertain funding and legal protection for studying the true health benefits of marijuana.

One study from 2007, however, has re-emerged in cannabis news, as it shows that Harvard researchers were able to link the use of marijuana to a reduction in cancerous lung tumors. Researchers cannot confirm why, exactly, THC appears to reduce and prevent cancerous cell growth. The fact that additional research hasn’t been aggressively pursued demonstrates the antiquated policies surrounding cannabis legal status.

When political agendas outweigh science

But, here’s the thing. Science has not driven cannabis conversations in America. Nasty PR battles, which cannabis clearly lost, were instead driven by racism and classism. When first determining how to classify cannabis, federal officials under Richard Nixon (hereby referred to as “Dick Nix”) understood the plant itself wasn’t dangerous like many other Schedule 1 narcotics. But the use of cannabis became the point of manipulation, as it was viewed by Washington as something done by communities of color and the anti-war left. And let’s be honest, neither group was voting for Dick Nix in droves. John Ehrlichman, a former aide, recently admitted that:

We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities […] We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Past politics still affect the present

If you have never faced legal ramifications for smoking weed, marijuana laws still affect your life in subtler ways. By making it illegal, federal authorities are continuing to limit your access and right to unbiased health information and treatment. And let’s be honest, paying $300 a month in insurance premiums should come with a guarantee that all paths to wellness are included. Time to nix that Dick, America.

 

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