First, and most importantly: WE WELCOME MONTANA, SOUTH DAKOTA, ARIZONA AND NEW JERSEY TO RECREATIONALLY LEGAL STATES!
WE WELCOME MISSISSIPPI AND SOUTH DAKOTA TO THE WORLD OF LEGAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA! SEE YOU SOON!!!!
Secondly, it’s a great time to talk about one of the big underlying concepts in American marijuana- the war on drugs. It was created by politicians divorced from reality. The War on Drugs exists to fill our jails and keep special interests satisfied, at the cost of millions of Americans incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes.
The upcoming Biden administration is the most pro-marijuana administration in the history of the United States, and we can likely expect the end of this $50 billion-a-year monstrosity. Even before president Biden gets a chance, The War on Drugs is dying a slow death throughout the United States, state-by-state, as each state legalizes its own medical or recreational program.
The War on Drugs was started in 1971, when Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one” in a well-known public address. The War on Drugs expanded in popularity and public support dramatically during the Reagan presidency. First lady Nancy Reagan was a passionate anti-drug activist, creating the groundwork for D.A.R.E. and “Just Say No” that you probably experienced in grade school (2).
Thanks to Nancy and Repubs, in the 1980s, the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, but the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126% (3). At the same time, the proportion of hard-drug users did not decrease- that’s why the War on Drugs is such a fail. The main result of the War on Drugs? Full prisons, mandatory drug testing, rich private prison companies and an exploitative “addiction recovery” industry.
The War on Drugs is a $50 billion-a-year program that aims to reduce drug use and incarcerates Americans for non-violent drug crimes. We incarcerate a million Americans a year (4). The War on Drugs is a way for police officers and law enforcement to be racist, classist and misogynist- there is a massive amount of data showing that women, people of color, and poorer Americans receive stricter fines and longer prison terms (5).
Enough heavy stuff! On to the good news! Voters legalized recreational marijuana in four states and medical marijuana in an additional two. With a majority of states having a structure for marijuana distribution, Americans have made their voices clear: We like marijuana.
This creates clear pressure on additional states to legalize. Check out this quote from the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo:
“I think this year it is ripe, because the state is going to be desperate for funding, even with Biden, even with stimulus, even with everything else, we’re still going to be desperate for funding – and it’s also the right policy,”
We also have elected the most pro-marijuana presidential administration…ever! California senator and Future Vice-President Kamala Harris has signalled her commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and has pushed Future President Biden to adopt a stronger pro-marijuana stance. As recently as 10/20, she repeated her commitment to full federal decriminalization!
It’s 2020 now, Nancy’s dead, her war is ending and marijuana has strong bipartisan support in all states! Data shows that marijuana legalization and liberalization leads to decreased rates of drug abuse.
By the way, republicans and/or Neo-Nancies: If you’re actually interested in lowering rates of hard drug use, you should actually consider legalizing marijuana! Thorough systematic research has shown that prescribers and consumers utilize less opiate when marijuana laws are liberalized (6, 7).
WE ARE HERE!
How does that fit in with us?
There’s a generation of physicians that practiced throughout the War on Drugs, and as such have been hesitant to embrace marijuana. A lot of this has to do with established prescription patterns- people have been prescribing opiates for years. Big pharma is absolutely one of the greatest benefactors from the War on Drugs.
But, we know that even young physicians are not prepared to counsel patients on marijuana! (8) Medical schools and residency programs NEED to think about incorporating marijuana counseling into their curricula if nothing more than because patients will ALWAYS be interested in marijuana.
There is a knowledge gap in physicians that exists because of the War on Drugs. There will always be utility in seeking a specialist in marijuana (that’s us!) We are in dispensaries, familiar with products and patient experiences. We are here for patients both new and old, and we’re also here for providers! Even former Nancies.
In addition to a knowledge gap, there’s also a research gap. That’s ridiculous. This is America! We have our issues, but medical research is definitely NOT one of them. We have a titanic research and academic machine waiting to really dig into the world of marijuana but we can’t- because of the War on Drugs and its lasting effect on marijuana’s legality.
We are confident that marijuana can help people live better lives. That’s why we’re here! We believe in science and humans and terpenes.
THE GREEN MIND STAFF
3) Austin J, McVey AD. The 1989 NCCD prison population forecast: the impact of the war on drugs. San Francisco: National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1989.
5) “I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS”. Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs. Human Rights Watch. 2000. Archived from the original on February 7, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
6) Wen H, Hockenberry JM. Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(5):673–679. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1007
7) Bradford AC, Bradford WD, Abraham A, Bagwell Adams G. Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(5):667–672. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0266
8) Evanoff AB, Quan T, Dufault C, Awad M, Bierut LJ. Physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;180:151-155. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.08.010