As an American, I see this struggle for open-minded consideration of Cannabis as a plant, rather than a drug, per se, a view which varies from country to country. I see this particular struggle as being extremely hindered in the UK, where regardless of the facts and information presented and so readily available to anyone who can read or go as far as to study the benefits of Cannabis, there continues to be a “black and white” dominant thought process amongst politicians. Also equally detrimental to progress are the Cannabis users who resort to demands that they be heard as justification for rebellion, which is in my opinion the worst choice of routes to choose when addressing the black and white thinkers. Some might refer to this as the difference between liberals and conservatives, but this no longer pertains to this struggle for legitimacy; many conservatives are not against Cannabis as medicine, and actually do support decriminalization based on the expenses related to policing and incarcerating growers and users, whether they be medical or recreational. I see Cannabis as preventative, which I highly doubt will influence and expand medical qualifications here in the USA, or in most countries where legalization has become a paramount issue, in particular the UK, where I have come to know many outspoken advocates and activists, as well as self-medicating patients who genuinely fear their well-researched decision to use Cannabis will ultimately damage their lives due to the illegality of its use.
My personal perspective stems from being raised in a family of black and white thinkers, the majority of whom suffer from a lack of education regarding Cannabis, despite their academic achievements in the field of medicine. One would like to think that the newer generation of physicians would be more open to the medical and preventative benefits of Cannabis, but surprisingly, even here in the medically legal State of Maine, the majority of them are not. I cannot count the times I have had to defend my use of Cannabis, only to occasionally hear an admission of lack of knowledge regarding any benefits of Cannabis whatsoever.
Misperceptions, not misinformation, and lack of education in the conventional field of medicine are the root of this problem. We can read it, we can listen to it, we can watch it, and we can write it, post or share the information, but it isn’t getting past the stage of advocacy or activism. The lawmakers and physicians who need to get behind Cannabis are not, while the peaceful, intelligent activists who possess a wealth of information and compassion are being met with opposition by ignorance and laziness. The ignorant are those who see only two shades, as in black or white, or good or bad, while the laziness stems from those who lack compassion and simply cannot be bothered. And then there are those who will not openly advocate and risk putting their professions on the line, but do use Cannabis privately. They are a silent majority, and often publish or post information on social networks under false names to protect themselves. I do have to wonder that if they were guaranteed their anonymity how much of an impact their personal statements would have on the legal system.
It appears to me that the dilemma we are facing stems from the missing links – many of them between the black and white tones – as well as public apathy due to the lack of information being retained as valid in these closed-minded persons of power.
What personally concerns me is the fact that there are tremendous numbers of truly ill people who now refuse to consult their physicians because they use and benefit from Cannabis. So, as we like-minds, mostly comprised of advocates and activists, do our research and post our latest findings in support of Cannabis being in the very least reclassified, how much information is actually reaching government officials, the people responsible for and capable of reversing the rules set by popularity and financial gain during the days of prohibition, over common sense? And if the criminal element serves to thrive on the demand for Cannabis, why is there opposition to the most limited concept of regulated medicinal Cannabis? And why produce a far more expensive derivative of Cannabis, a pharmaceutical product that is quite costly, and then limit its availability by post code because of the inherent expense? This makes no sense to me whatsoever.
And if your last question is “why is this American so concerned about Cannabis in the UK?,” the answer is that after years of Cannabis advocacy I am now a legal Cannabis patient, and to shrug off the rest of those who are in need of the legal freedom purely because I am within my legal rights (I was “illegal” for 41 years) goes against the essence of the medicinal Cannabis community, where the word compassion is more than a word; it is a way of life.
I am not here to repeat the facts I already know, nor am I writing because I know all the answers. But I am concerned on a global level, and thanks to social networking, we who benefit from using Cannabis support one another in a compassionate way. Most of us prefer a natural product grown under organic guidelines. We share growing and purchasing information, prices, strain guides, and even strain analysis related to specific health issues. I have been tempted to leave all my under-educated physicians, but instead choose to challenge them to rethink their medical training by researching Cannabis themselves. My fresh-out-of-residency internist, a woman the same age as one of my children, is slowly bending from the black and white conventional teachings of medical school towards a more open mind regarding Cannabis. I see this as progress. I have been writing about Cannabis from a personal perspective for almost a decade now, and I have been denied care despite my legal status as a Cannabis user. When I was denied this care, I wrote to the State Board of Licensure. My oncologist, a compassionate man, referred me out of state to The Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts. Cannabis is not medically legal in Massachusetts, my home state, but the specialists at Dana Farber did agree with my use, and validated that Cannabis is indeed a viable approach regarding cancer prevention.
This is not only about legality now; the topic is legitimacy. We should all be concerned that the facts, the data supporting Cannabis for a multitude of ailments, as well as hemp and the limitless data supporting its uses and benefits in so many already historically proven ways, can no longer be questioned in its legitimacy. One country does not lead another; one person speaks to another, with compassion.
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