Must history repeat itself by legalizing marijuana

By Melissa Martin - Contributing Columnist



“As a people, we are not very good students of history; we keep repeating the same mistakes at dreadful costs,” declared Don Wilson. Americans, have we forgotten what happened in the last decade?

Smoking tobacco is by far the leading cause of lung cancer. About 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking, and many others are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the American Cancer Society. Have we forgotten about the deaths from lung cancer?

“In 1999, the U.S. Government sued several tobacco companies for misleading the public about the risks of smoking. For many years, Big Tobacco knew that smoking was dangerous to a person’s health—and they still told the public that smoking was safe. That’s not all. In the same lawsuit, the Government claimed that Big Tobacco advertised cigarettes to people younger than 21 to get a new generation addicted to smoking. The Government argued that the tobacco companies wanted to be sure that, as their current customers got older and died, new customers would replace them—and the tobacco companies would keep making money…If Big Tobacco withheld the truth about smoking, what does that tell you about how dangerous smoking really is?”

With funding of $20 million, the End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative by the American Heart Association will fund groundbreaking projects that focus on understanding how nicotine impacts young people.“The #QuitLying community engagement campaign will empower kids, schools and communities to call out JUUL and other e-cigarette companies for their lies about vaping and nicotine addiction.” Is history repeating itself?

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has been taken to task for deceiving and lying. “The Ohio case had been set to be the first federal trial related to an opioid epidemic that has claimed an estimated 400,000 American lives over two decades,” according to a 2019 article in USA Today. Did history repeat itself?

Because the use of marijuana has been illegal, pot participants didn’t volunteer for research studies. Because the federal government and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) deem marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, research on marijuana or its active ingredients has been restricted. Because there have not been adequate large controlled trials to support claims of the efficacy of medical marijuana, the risks are unknown. The lack of evidence-based information on the health effects of cannabis is why the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana is hazardous to the well-being of humans.

In a 2013 article in the journal Missouri Medicine,Samuel Wilkinson, MD., reported, “Medical marijuana should be subject to the same rigorous approval process as other medications prescribed by physicians. Legalizing recreational marijuana may have negative public health effects…Bypassing the FDA and approving ‘medicine’ at the ballot box sets a dangerous precedent. Physicians should be discouraged from recommending medical marijuana.”

So, there is marijuana in a pill form. The FDA-approved pill, known as Dronabinol, contains the active ingredient of marijuana – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – and has already been approved to treat chemotherapy and AIDS patients with nausea and vomiting.

Is weed the future of the tobacco industry? “Since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana and marijuana legalization as both a potential and a rival product. As public opinion shifted and governments began relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana criminalization, the tobacco companies modified their corporate planning strategies to prepare for future consumer demand,” according to a 2014 article in the Milbank Quarterlyat

Stoners, potheads and junkies move over—future marijuana moguls want to become a legitimate business. Convenient stores may one day stack packs of joints next to cigarette packs on shelves. Instead of amber waves of grain, we’ll sing about the green leaves of cannabis. Small farmers, entrepreneurs, dispensaries—lookout. The Big Tobacco boys are back in town. Did we learn nothing from past history?

Ohio can decriminalize marijuana without making recreational pot legal. “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use… Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce [28g] of marijuana.”—Jimmy Carter


By Melissa Martin

Contributing Columnist

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]