The world is slowly but surely turning the page on one of the most fundamental rights we have on this Earth–the right to consume, cultivate and possess a plant. That right has been stripped away from many populations globally for decades. Days after voters in the US state of Ohio rejected a proposal to legalise cannabis for recreational use, Mexico has ruled that pot, whether smoking, consuming or cultivating is a fundamental human right.
The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by 4 to 1 that banning the consumption and cultivation of cannabis for personal use violates the human right to free development of one’s personality.
“This vote by Mexico’s Supreme Court is extraordinary for two reasons,” says Hannah Hetzer of the US Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigns for the relaxation of drug laws. “First, it’s being argued on human-rights grounds, and secondly, it’s taking place in one of the countries that has suffered most from the war on drugs,” she says.
Cannabis reached the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, arriving in the southwest from Mexico, as immigrants fled the country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911. The cultivation of cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivated crops.However, modern humans have found it acceptable to prohibit the use of one of the most therapeutic plants in the world based on mostly political reasons.
A federal law called the Marijuana Tax Act banned its use and sales in 1937. Prior to 1937 in the United States (and 1928 in the United Kingdom), cannabis had enjoyed a 5,000 year run as a therapeutic plant with no history of illegality.
Four US states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — have legalised the personal use of cannabis and Canada is expected to follow suit. More than a dozen U.S. states have now completely decriminalizedthe act of possessing marijuana. It’s a far cry from initiatives in 2011 when the federal government decreed that marijuana had no accepted medical use use and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin.
We now know that accepting and promoting the powerful health benefits of marijuana would instantly cut huge profits geared towards cancer treatment and the U.S. would have to admit it imprisons the population for no cause. Nearly half of all drug arrests in the United States are for marijuana.
Bills to legalise cannabis for medical use are under debate in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica. The world is moving towards its inhabitants finally being able to once again possess, sell, transport and cultivate the plant.
Several other countries have moved towards more lenient laws on cannabis use, but none have done so solely on the basis of human rights. Most, like Ireland, which in early November moved towards legalising supervised heroin use and possible decriminalisation of other drugs, have cited health, compassionate and economic grounds.
“We’re seeing a new rationality in relation to drug laws,” says David Nutt of Imperial College London, who is a former UK government adviser on drugs. “At last some countries have the courage to admit that the ‘war on drugs’ is futile and does more harm than good.”
TOP 10 HEALTH BENEFITS OF CANNABIS
Cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana, inhibit tumor growthin laboratory animals, and also kill cancer cells. Western governments have known this for a long time yet they continued to suppress the information so that cannabis prohibition and the profits generated by the drug industry proliferated.
THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.
2. Tourette’s Syndrome
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by uncontrollable facial grimaces, tics, and involuntary grunts, snorts and shouts.
Dr. Kirsten Mueller-Vahl of the Hanover Medical College in Germany led a team that investigated the effects of chemicals called cannabinols in 12 adult Tourette’s patients. A single dose of the cannabinol produced a significant reduction in symptoms for several hours compared to placebo, the researchers reported.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.