Look, you probably can't find anyone more skeptical about pot than me. I never liked it. I hate the smell, the high, and I would break out in blisters every time I'd try it.
And I had too many friends who were stoned All. The. Time. Plus, I remain resistant to the idea that inhaling particulate matter is good for your lungs.
But time changes everything. Reading the medical literature, hearing from so many people in pain about how medical marijuana gave them back their lives finally convinced me. Marijuana should be legal everywhere.
Today, on 4/20, Chuck Schumer (not a pot advocate in the past) announces a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
“Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do," he told VICE News. "Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”
The legislation would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide how to regulate the drug. De-scheduling essentially makes pot legal at the federal level.
His bill also provides funding for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses, research into overall effects of marijuana and its specific effect on driving impairment.
It would also maintain federal authority to regulate pot advertising in the "same way it does alcohol and tobacco,” which Schumer said is to make sure children aren't targeted in their ads.
But now it's on to the next legalization battle: Kratom. It's an Asian herb that's still legal in most states, and it's widely used by addicts to successfully wean themselves off heroin and other opiates. (If you have a loved one who's an addict, you could look into it.)
It's also remarkably effective for pain relief without the serious addiction problems; some users do report dependence, but say quitting is no worse than going without coffee. Like marijuana, it's versatile for a wide range of health conditions. (Transparency: I use it for osteoarthritis. My doctor offered to put me on oxycontin, and I said no thanks. I also switched doctors.)
The thing I really like about kratom is, I don't feel high; I just feel productive.
So naturally, the FDA is trying to make it illegal. (Might be a push from Big Pharma because after all, you can't patent an herb and they'd rather sell you drugs they patent to treat your addiction to the other drugs they sold you.) They recently ruled it an opiate because it binds with some of the same receptors as heroin and opiates -- receptors that also bind with coffee and chocolate.
It's the same backwards thinking that kept doctors from researching the many medical benefits of LSD and psilocybin -- while Americans regularly die from the effects of alcohol and cigarettes.
I'd feel a lot better if the FDA was simply trying to regulate the quality of the herb instead of pressuring credit card processors to refuse payment to distributors. I guess we'll just have to wait another 50 years for that.