Monday, May 29, 2023

Commentary: It's high time to clear the air about cannabis


Ending cannabis myths

I think it’s high time for all of us to talk like grownups about cannabis and cannabis use. After all, we have a brand-new legal market in New Mexico that has sparked new economic activity and job creation, generating over $300 million in sales in year one. But along with new comes some of the old, including a lot of the misinformation and stoner stereotypes that have persisted through the years. So, let’s take a quick look at some of the myths that exist around cannabis and what’s actually true.

Myth: Only Democrats support cannabis legalization in the United States.

Fact: Support for cannabis legalization is at an all-time high with 68% of Americans supporting adult-use. And you know what? A full 51% of self-identified Republicans support cannabis legalization nationwide. This is a significant change compared to a decade ago when only 20% of Republicans supported legalization.

More people across the country are waking up and smelling the terpenes. The party line gap is closing because many are realizing the truth about this amazing plant; cannabis is truly a medicine that humans have evolved with and used dating as far back as about 8000 BC. And being a former Republican myself, I preach about the benefits to whoever I can because there is no political party that matters when it comes to health and wellness.

Myth: Stoners are lazy, unproductive people that do not contribute to society.

Fact: No, smoking weed will not lead to the incidents that occurred in the film Reefer Madness. Stoners don’t become addicted, cause car crashes, or murder people. If anything, those of us who consume cannabis on a regular basis are loving, open minded, and accepting folks. We’re all around you all the time, holding high positions in government, running businesses that you frequent, and providing services to you and your family every day.

It's difficult to argue that cannabis makes one lazy and unproductive when the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are regular consumers, arguably two of the highest performing individuals on the planet at one point. In fact, cannabis makes many of us more productive, helping to tamp down regular anxiety and spurring creative thoughts in our work and play. In fact, I’m writing this column while smoking a joint.

Besides, what makes a lazy person lazy isn’t a substance they put in their body. It’s their mindset and personality that drives who they are.

Myth: Cannabis isn’t beneficial and does nothing but get a person sloppy and high.

Fact: With the breaking of stigmas surrounding cannabis, more studies are currently being conducted to understand from a scientific perspective what cannabis users have understood for years; cannabis is a medicine that helps with many ailments, both short and long term. According to the National Institutes of Health, drugs containing cannabinoids may be helpful in treating conditions like certain rare forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatments, and loss of appetite and weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS.

Doctors who have been recommending various forms of cannabis to their patients have seen dramatic results. They’ve seen patients with chronic pain needing fewer prescription pain medications, which is a major benefit in New Mexico considering our opioid epidemic. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease have begun to eat again. Patients with multiple sclerosis have had fewer and less painful muscle spasms. It also helps with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

And while cannabis is a medicine, it can also be a healthy way to relax and unwind if not used in an overindulgent fashion, just like any other substance we use. In fact, in the years that I’ve been using cannabis, I’ve all but completely stopped consuming alcohol, except for on the rare occasion when I’m craving a bourbon or a beer.

Cannabis is here to stay and is only gaining in popularity. The plant is on a trend to become nationally legal in several years with projections showing that the market will grow to $52.6 billion by 2026. It’s time to start accepting the fact that this plant we’ve evolved with as humans is part of our society. It’s time to discard the past and open our minds about cannabis and what it can do for us – for our bodies and our society. Let’s be more accepting of cannabis and cannabis consumers, rather than ostracizing and imprisoning people for possession and consumption of plant that we’ve used for millennia.

Matt Kennicott is co-founder and partner of an Albuquerque based cannabis consulting firm. He has worked in various fields throughout his career, giving him a broad perspective on different topics. He has served as a public relations executive, a public information officer in state government, a state regulator, political appointee, and a Republican political operative. He currently splits his time between Albuquerque and Socorro, where he operates a small outdoor cannabis farm with his significant other.


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