The “Devil’s Lettuce” & All That It Implies

Which side of the marijuana argument are you on? Photo Courtesy:
Which side of the marijuana argument are you on? Photo Courtesy:

By Paul A. Esquivel

APRIL 20, 2016 IS A MUCH DIFFERENT TIME FOR THE “420” HOLIDAY TO LIGHT UP. How the majority of citizens feel about this plant is very different than five years ago and it got me thinking, I have never understood how our society accepts lies we know are lies, for whatever reason it may be.

Public perception of marijuana has shifted away from being the feared “devil’s lettuce” we’ve all been used to hearing. Stereotypes about unproductive stoners aren’t how most of the population still sees marijuana users, but the old stubborn attitudes cling on, somehow refusing to die.

Even back as early as 2013 the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a.k.a. the D.A.R.E. Program, quietly removed marijuana from its list of gateway drugs. But why do it quietly? I may have an answer to that later, but I remember in elementary school being taught by the D.A.R.E. program about how marijuana could and would destroy my morals and values along with my life. D.A.R.E. plus the adults I trusted who warned me were the reason I was blindly against marijuana for longer than I’d like to admit. I made double standards for close friends who started to smoke weed because I knew them, and they weren’t  lazy do nothing pot-heads, but everyone else who I didn’t know that smoked pot was and they shouldn’t be doing that.

Yeah, that was my hypocritical line of thinking until I turned 21.

Prior to that, I had a preconceived notion towards people who smoked and silently judged them on mistakes they made and would cite pot as just another reason they were bound to screw up. The mindset I had back then was unfair, unjustified, and the worst part is that it was taught to me. These lies did more damage than good and the war on drugs only exacerbated the situation. Propaganda about marijuana was fed to us for decades and now we have scientific facts that prove it isn’t the big boogey man they made it out to be.

Yet still in the face of these facts people against marijuana want their opinion to hold as much sway as the actual truth. Nineteen states have decriminalized marijuana in America and we haven’t descended into “Reefer Madness.” Just look to Colorado, there are still “dry” counties that don’t allow the sale or possession of the plant, so the citizens aren’t exactly having weed forced into their hands, homes, or communities. Maybe that’s the reason why D.A.R.E. and others who have had such a strong opposing stance against marijuana in the past have quietly and reluctantly slowed down the engine of the pot propaganda machine.

The fear-mongering that fueled this attitude has run dry. What’s left in the wake of lies is not only people incarcerated for something that might be perfectly fine in a state over, but also people who are suffering physically or mentally because the state they live in refuses to legalize marijuana, even for prescribed medicinal use; all because of the discrimination campaign we launched against a plant.

Just things to consider for my fellow Texans who decide to blaze up for the holiday. Our governor, Greg Abbott, has said Texas absolutely will not legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use as long as he’s in office. More than 20 states allow some form of medicinal marijuana but Texas refuses to join their ranks. Do your own research about marijuana and look up the facts, then ask yourself, with what we know now, why are we still upholding something the majority of us don’t agree with or support?

Marijuana prohibition creates victims instead of protecting anyone, the ones who could be treated by cannabis, the ones who die at the hands of traffickers who profit off of what we prohibit and the ones who are behind bars longer than someone who drives drunk and takes a life.

Happy 420.