The Stigma of Cannabis – A Misguided Direction

How the stigma surrounding the cannabis industry was born

The use of Cannabis dates back as far as 4,000 BC in Ancient China and was used as an antidepressant, analgesic, and sedative. The history, prior to the stigma, was a positive one, with Cannabis known to have a wide range of medicinal and industrial properties.

Prohibition of Cannabis introduced

Fast forward to the prohibition era in the US in the 1920’s and 30’s and negative opinions regarding Cannabis begin to rise.

Harry J. Anslinger was appointed Narcotics Commissioner by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930 when the prohibition of alcohol was ending. He made it his mission to rid the US of drugs, including Cannabis, and in 1937 introduced the Marijuana Tax Act which made it illegal to sell or possess Cannabis.

Many officials at the American Medical Association (AMA) objected to Anslinger’s criminalisation of Cannabis due to the positive medical properties of the drug. However, Harry J. Anslinger used the media to demonise Cannabis and so the stigma began.

In a radio interview, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.”

However, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. It was reported, out of 30 scientists tasked with finding a scientific basis for his beliefs, only one supported his claims.  It was this one scientist that Anslinger presented to the public. Naturally, the media ran the sensationalised claims.

During Harry J. Anslinger’s time with the FBN, he promoted stereotypes and the gateway drug theory. He stigmatized Cannabis further through the term Marijuana: a word used also to exploit racism and vilify minority groups.

Henry Anslinger – Federal Bureau of Narcotics

Stricter drug laws in force

14 years later and The Boggs Act was introduced to further strengthen drug laws. It provided equal penalties for the Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act and the Marihuana Tax Act. It imposed up to five years for first offenders along with fines up to $2,000, five to 10 years for second offenses, and 10 to 15 years for further offenses.

A further five years later and Congress passed the Boggs-Daniel Narcotic Control Act of 1956. The Act provided a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for a first offence of illegally selling narcotic drugs or Marihuana, and up to 40 years for subsequent offenses.

Just as the evidence had been presented by Harry J. Anslinger, back in the 30s with flawed science, unfounded fears and prejudices, so too were the Boggs Act and subsequent federal drug laws. The war on drugs had stepped up.

At the same time, the UK reported of a new drug ‘epidemic’. Concerns surrounded the use of drugs by ethnic minorities in blues and jazz clubs. Across the pond, Cannabis was gaining the same stigma as the US.

War on drugs

Today, it’s widely believed the war on drugs has failed to achieve its goals. In fact, the use of narcotics has actually increased, according to the charity Health Poverty Action (HPA).

The group believes the war on drugs fuels poverty and undermines global efforts to tackle inequality worldwide. According to the HPA:

‘There has been no significant reduction in global use of illicit drugs since the UN’s drug conventions came into force half a century ago. Illicit drugs are now purer, cheaper, and more widely used than ever. A recent report from the UK Home Office highlighted “the lack of any clear correlation between the ‘toughness’ of an approach and levels of drug use”.’ They go on to say; ‘Current drug policies undermine economic growth and make development work less effective.’

Perhaps it’s the lack of knowledge and outdated, unfounded information that drives the stigma associated with Cannabis. The media hype surrounding synthetic Cannabis and the differences between this and natural Cannabis products are somewhat blurred.

Understanding the differences between synthetic and organic Cannabis

We think it’s time to debunk the myths and set the Cannabis record straight.

Synthetic Cannabinoids, also known as K2, X, Spice, Mary Joy, Exodus Damnation, Devil’s Weed, Clockwork Orange, Bombay Blue Extreme, Black Mamba, Annihilation, and Amsterdam Gold (according to Talk to Frank). These chemicals are designed to behave like the main psychoactive chemical in Cannabis.

The problem is that synthetic Cannabinoids are far more potent than natural Cannabis or hemp so carry higher risks and are produced in laboratories. Because of the chemicals in these synthetic products, they can also be highly addictive and can even cause death in some instances.

Organic Cannabis has been around for thousands of years and used throughout cultures worldwide without any recording of fatality. The problem being synthetic Cannabis is lumped into the catagory of Cannabis and negative media due to the harm is then associated with the natural non-harmful varieties.

Is the stigma towards Cannabis changing?

Over the last couple of years, it seems there has been a huge shift in the stigma towards Cannabis. By federal law, the possession of Cannabis is still illegal in the US. However, a growing number of states have enacted laws to legalise its medical use. This is in stark contrast to the federal government’s stance of zero-tolerance, which has led to a heated legal debate in the United States.

It has now been agreed that Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects. Commercially available Cannabinoids are approved to treat cancer-related side effects.

According to the American medical journal – Medical Science Monitor, they say:

‘… recent studies have shown that medical marijuana is effective in controlling chronic non-cancer pain, alleviating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, treating wasting syndrome associated with AIDS, and controlling muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.’

These studies state that the alleviating benefits of Cannabis outweigh the negative effects of the drug. It has been recommended that Cannabis be given to patients who have failed to respond to other therapies.

With leading medical publications providing influential writing about Cannabis, this can only lead to the stigma attached to cannabis being broken down. With the recent changes to the World Health Organisation (WHO) stance on Cannabis and its call for re-classification, Cannabis has a very bright future with a diversified and economically stimulating industry to continue to be formed.

It seems on the surface hat we are getting back to the roots of Human use of Hemp/Cannabis regardless of agenda driven roadblocks.

 Click here for the WHO article

 What Flora Fusion hopes to achieve

At Flora Fusion, we offer Hemp and Cannabis derived Cannabidiol (CBD) products with the added mission of educating and improving the health and well-being of people all over the planet.

We want to break down the negative connotations of Cannabis and bring back the positive associations it once had thousands of years ago.

Flora Fusion is an advocate for sustainable industry and we work alongside our industry supply network, valued customers, and even competitors to ensure ethical business practices are met in achieving our long-term goals.

We want to unearth the benefits of organic Cannabis and ensure people are educated properly and ethically on the differences between synthetic and natural Cannabis and indeed its effects on human health.

Bit by bit we can create a positive outlook for the benefits of organic Cannabis and Hemp products for the growing Cannabis industry.

For more information about Flora Fusion products, click here: www.flora-fusion.com