Moral Panic And Marijuana


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You can stop fainting now. Put down the hankies of moral panic before you break a nail. People need to calm down – especially panicked Stuff contributors.

Marijuana is like the Paracetamol of illegal drugs.

It’s really useful, pretty damn safe and has mild side effects. It’s the kind of thing you need in your medicine box that could feasibly be sold over the counter in Pharmacies. If you smoked it once, experienced paranoia and now think it is wholly evil you can blame its illegal status for that. If it were legal you could have bought a strain from a supplier with multiple varieties that would have given you all of the nice effects and none of the bad ones, because marijuana has various useful compounds in it and you could have chosen the kind you want. But while it remains illegal you get whatever growers decide to grow and that sucks for people.

But the issue is bigger than that; this is about access to treatments required for good health.

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The idea that it should be legal is almost boring it’s that uncontroversial in other developed countries, including parts of Europe and America. It grows on the side of the road in some towns in Australia. People smoke it openly here at J-day with little harassment from police. Because even police know the rules around marijuana are completely vapid. The only reason the government doesn’t legalise it is because it panders to various types of moral panic that help them get votes rather than letting a sense of reason lead. But actually 500,000 New Zealanders smoke the stuff each year responsibly around barbecues, a bunch of them smoke it when they have a migraine (this is an outrage!) and some smoke it to deal with their serious health issues. That’s a lot of voters, my friend. It’s certainly a lot of people to needlessly criminalise. Many regular smokers hold high positions in various professions and are considered “decision makers” according to studies.  We have the ninth highest level of consumption in the world. 13.4% of New Zealanders aged between 16 and 64 smoke marijuana.

The fear of marijuana is almost laughable, I’m shocked at the kind of parliamentary woo-woo drama required for someone to gain access to it for medical purposes. I mean it would be laughable were it not for the case that actual lives were affected (and I don’t mean through needless criminalisation, though, that too). This Stuff contributor talks about the terrible risks involved in asking medical practitioners to “cast aside the foundations of their vocation”. How lofty! How absurd. It’s also reasonably vile and insensitive that he implies that the family of the young boy who recently died were being over-emotional rather than logical. It’s mainly awful because he is entirely wrong and he clearly hasn’t done any actual research. He is the illogical, over emotional one. There are studies that show CBD is useful in the treatment of a particular type of myoclonic epilepsy, anxiety, pain relief and compounds are also undergoing trials as a cancer treatment. But even if it were legalised that has nothing to do with forcing medical professionals to use it, though they might opt to as people who care about their patients when they read the factual information on it. Including this information from the American Cancer Society. They outline just a portion of the studies on marijuana and the legitimate uses – and there are quite a few:

A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.

A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).

Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.

Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.

More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.

There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.

I think what speaks to me most of all is this, when the American Cancer Society calls bullshit on the illegal status of marijuana you probably ought to listen. Get a load of their position on the legality of marijuana:

The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.

It’s politely worded but if the American Cancer Society says your stupid laws are getting in the way of necessary research and use of these chemicals as medical treatment maybe that’s the time you ought to examine your own views to see how your prejudices are limiting others from having access to treatments they need.

And that bit where they discuss the different compounds found in marijuana? Well as previously mentioned if it were legal people would be able to gain access to certain strains that benefit them and avoid strains that contain compounds with side effects. For example, if treating epilepsy or migraines CBD can be useful while THC can be unhelpful and cause people paranoia. It is a case of different strokes for different folks on that count. THC has different benefits. Legalisation means people can openly discuss the kind of marijuana they want to receive and growers can cater to public needs.

People who panic about marijuana need to stop infantalising others. Grown adults can make their own decisions about responsible use just like we do with various other things, like drinking, driving, flying and adventure sports, and having babies – a handful of things that are far more risky than marijuana smoking.  And if you didn’t notice adults are making their decisions themselves irrespective of the legality, so I think it’s even possible you could argue marijuana smokers have a right to use it and be left alone by police. Currently illegal growers are providing a public service. Please stop wringing your hands. It’s time to get with the program. Let people grow it, use it, and sell it and stop destroying lives by harassing them over something harmless. More importantly we do not have the right to limit access to a drug that can significantly improve people’s health and quality of life.


  1. Truly asleep most are about the truths of Marijuana health benefits.
    The tobacco, drug and alcohol and cotton lobbies are very threatened and they lobby in the US with big bucks to stop the legalization. It is not a ” gate way ” drug and those in prison for possession should be released. Drug wars have miserably failed. Get informed before misjudging a wonderful plant.

    Industrial Hemp could change a countries economy in a positive way and most are not even aware of what great quality products come from Hemp. Many US states have already legalized medical marijuana and many more are working on it including Wash. DC. More funding for Industrial Hemp is a good idea.

    • Yes it makes me furious how we are having to continue jumping through hoops to get (environmentally sustainable) industrial hemp up and running in this country….and the stupid stupid farmers that jumped on the corrupt dairying band wagon …will what can one say except it serves them right …Zionist lap dog Keys and is disgusting sycophant cronies are out to ruin this country…the vultures are circling as we speak… Watch all the land that gets scooped up from these destroyed,bankrupt farmers.

      • You hit the nail on the head – and what a shame for the economic health and stability of our country.
        ====>>> Idiots at the helm === >>;&%#@;! ! % * @ ? % ! $&^%*?^#@?+* ! ! ! !

  2. Great informative writing.
    While the outraged moralists treat the uneducated like mushrooms,
    kept in the dark and feed shit, mostly for their own agenda
    The enlghtened know that Marijuana is much better to use
    for pain than Paracetamol
    Marijuana costs next to nothing to grow for yourself
    there is no board of directors or ceo or scientisit to fund a new safer strain you can do that all yourself, so I am told.

    Paracetamol can now be brought over the counter at the supermarket cheaper than the doctors fee and prescription but how safe is it?
    Taking over doses of paracetamol can cause damage to your liver

    If you have a history of alcohol abuse you should not take paracetamol
    did your doctor ever tell you that?

    Paracetamol is contained in many combination medicines, and an overdose could happen without you even knowing why.

    The real reason why marijuana is illegal must be answered
    and the question asked again why is smoking cigarettes and alcohol legal? when there is so much documented evidence that those legal drugs are causing chaos and mayhem in our society

  3. Worldwide, the tide is changing for marijiana – but New Zealand will probably be one of the last countries to legalise it. Sad, but true.

  4. My 16 year old Jack Russel was having periodic fits, I’ve been giving her 2 spots a day for the past 2 weeks and the fits have dropped by at least 95% ) … Getting the dose right is the worry ???
    She got shitfaced a few times )

  5. Trials woulde need to be properly organised, run by a reputable organisation, and with permission from research ethics committees, and the results published in reputable scientific research journals, before Pharmac or other govt agencies give the substances any credibility. I am sure this is true in most western countries. Howevrr, I do hope that in the tragic case your post talks about, that permission to use marijuana came with the requirement to document exactly the doses and the effects and outcomes. This would help those responsible for such decisions when dealing with further requests to use cannabinoids for treatments.

    • Are we placing a lot of credibility in organizations and research journals when many are biased towards those who fund them ?
      Are we assuming that this plant based herb is some kind of very dangerous life threatening gateway drug when clearly it is not ? Most intelligent people are aware that many politicians are bought and controlled by those who do not want to see this very valuable and healing herb plant become legal. The alcohol industry (and others . . ) would hate to see it legalized and they lobby big time against it with massive funds.

      It is lies and scare mongering and fear that is at the base of the Draconian “out of date” and “out of touch” laws against both medicinal and pleasurable use. The good news is that NZ seems to follow the U.S. lead on most things since we have a PM who loves photo ops with Obama = so when all U.S. states make medicinal marijuana legal than
      maybe 20 years ( ? . . . ) after that NZ will follow suit.
      Sleeping ” behind the times ” dogs are harder to wake.

      It can not be compared to narcotics or alcohol and is far better than either in so many ways. It never deserved the lies and bad press and laws against it and I agree with John below.
      Dorothy, did you read any of the links I put up about this ?

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