Marijuana – also called cannabis, pot, kief, hemp and so on – has been causing humanity pain and pleasure since a hunter-gatherer threw a dried branch onto a fire in a cave and chilled out in an unexpected way. Since then, the substance believed to be less hallucinatory than alcohol has continued stirring things up. If you question that point, how many potheads have you seen singing off tune in karaoke bars?

Marijuana has been abused and used around the world for a long, long time. Archaeologists have found it stuffed into Egyptian mummies, ancient Hindus used their ganjika to heighten spiritual awareness, and they even found cannabis pipes in the garden of William Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon home. Although alien to conservative American tradition, Mexican residents in the Rio Grande were merrily using it to treat asthma and as an aphrodisiac in 1894. If you don’t know the meaning of the long word, skip it over and read on.

To the other world

Old Egyptians were both taken and took it to the other world.
Globe Rove

Until 1910, American farmers grew their hemp to make ropes for sailing ships, although no doubt a few boys and girls with corn pipes tried out the flowers. After the Mexican revolution immigrants flooded into the U.S. which had porous borders. That sounds familiar. The locals did not appreciate the newbies because they worked hard and showed them up. So they associated their smoke with ‘terrible crimes’ by what they called ‘racially inferior’ people, like getting stoned on the street. The liquor companies seized the opportunity to lobby to have their competition banned. This happened all over America in the 1930’s.

Since then, there has been a lot of huff and puff on the subject. Places like Holland and some American states have rolled back prohibition, while countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand would like to lock pot dealers up for decades. So what really is going on? Some say marijuana destroys the mind. By some miracle Barack Obama held onto his marbles.

Coffeeshop Amsterdam

A coffeeshop in Amsterdam where coffee is not the main sale.
Photo by Jan Kus

The truth is there are two different types of marihuana. The first kind makes you dizzy, can stuff your brain up if you take too much and deserves to be controlled. In this respect it is similar to alcohol once again. You can have too much of anything that lowers your self-respect.

There is however a second marijuana strain that’s high in chemicals that are beneficial for treating chest infections, preventing seizures, and countering nausea associated with chemotherapy, but low in the elements that make you stoned. Is marijuana the work of the devil or a magic medicine that’s totally natural and doesn’t mess with body chemicals? The answer is in the application. If I swallow concrete I am going to die. Does that make concrete evil? Of course not! It makes me dumb.

We can love marihuana when it’s used for easing pain and suffering but should we like it in the hands of drug dealers who profit out of human misery? Let’s split the difference and make love, not waste time bickering.