Banning scientists from accessing and cultivating cannabis for research purposes is preposterous. The cannabis plant has been a part of human life for thousands of years. Yet, it’s only in recent history (since the 1930s) that the herb has fallen victim to a nonsensical prohibition policy. Here are 5 scientific reasons why cannabis prohibition is absurd:
1. Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated crops
Archeological evidence suggests that cannabis may be one of the oldest crops cultivated by humans. The plants thought to have been used for their psychoactive properties and their healing benefits have been found in burial chambers and tombs dating back to 2,700 years ago.
One report even suggests that a young woman was using cannabis to ease symptoms of breast cancer 2,500 years ago. Instead of using this information to learn more about why cannabis was so essential to human ancestors, prohibition disconnects us from the traditional knowledge that aided human survival for centuries.
2. Cannabis study is critical for understanding contemporary disease
Today, the cannabis plant has shown a unique potential to treat some of the most complex contemporary diseases in laboratory trials. These include diabetes, cancer, seizure disorders, and chronic pain. Modern medicine has yet to come up with adequate, non-invasive solutions to these problems.
Based on the available research thus far, cannabis has a high margin of safety and is generally well-tolerated among patients of all different kinds.
It was through the study of cannabis that scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system, which is one of the largest neurotransmitter networks in the body. Prior to cannabis research, no one knew that this network existed.
Though the plant may not hold all of the answers, already, researching the plant has paved the way to new understandings of disease. To continue to develop these understandings, scientists need to be able to cultivate and freely research the plant.
3. Humans don’t know much about plants
In the past two decades, scientists have learned many astounding things about plants. Plants have been found to have memory. Research suggest that at least some plants nurture their young through chemical signaling. Some experts even argue that plants have “sight”, though not in the way that humans or animals do.
Rather, as Daniel Chamovitz, author of What a Plant Knows, suggests, plants may be able to “see” by interpreting and reacting to different colors and types of light.
When it comes to uncovering the secrets of the natural world, researchers have barely scratched the surface. The cannabis plant produces over 400 distinct chemical compounds. Evidence suggests that these chemicals interact with each other to produce synergistic effects in humans.
In plants, some of these compounds may act as a complex defense system, comparable to an external chemical immune system. Prohibition prevents scientists from being able to study this alternate type of immunity, which means that medical professionals are blocked from potentially life-saving new medicines.
4. Certain chemical compounds are unique to cannabis
International organizations have strict regulations for the protection of endangered species. But, what about plants that contain difficult to find medicinal compounds?
While researchers have been searching for additional plants that contain cannabinoids, there is no other plant that seems to produce the same active compounds found in cannabis.
Given the vast medical potential of this plant, based on thousands of years of history and ample preclinical data, the cannabis plant should be something that is protected, not prohibited.
Resistance to antibiotics has bred more detrimental and aggressive forms of certain diseases, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and tuberculosis. Both of these diseases can cause extreme pain and suffering, and can even be fatal.
Research from 2008 has found that five different cannabinoids, the active chemicals in the cannabis plant, successfully killed MRSA in laboratory tests.
Interestingly, researchers found that the compounds seemed to avoid tripping the same mechanisms that caused resistances to other types of antibiotics.
This reason alone should be enough to question whether or not banning cannabis is beneficial for society.