Institutional Racism of Marijuana

You’ve heard the term “marijuana.” You may have even tried this complex and controversial drug on occasion. Or with some 33 U.S. states authorizing legal Medical Cannabis or some 11 U.S. states legalizing the use of Recreational Cannabis, you might be a seasoned user. Good for you! We fully support Medical Cannabis.

Yet if you still use the term “marijuana,” then you are unknowingly (or knowingly) engaging in Institutional Racism.

Institutional Racism is expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. The term was coined and first used in 1967 by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and Charles V. Hamilton in Black Power: The Politics of Liberation. Carmichael and Hamilton wrote that while individual racism is often identifiable because of its overt nature, institutional racism is less perceptible because of its “less overt, far more subtle” nature. [source]

Marijuana … there’s no such thing. The War on Marijuana has all been a lie. Director for the federal Narcotics Bureau, Harry Anslinger, in 1937 coined the term “marihuana.” He did so to demonize Black and Brown people who were attempting to immigrate to the United States. Sound familiar?

Marijuana … or weed … or pot … or ganja … or pakalolo, as we say here in the Hawaiian islands, are all slang names for cannabis — either Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica. And in the 1930s, cannabis was commonly used as medication. My wife’s MexicanAmerican grandmother grew cannabis in her garden. She would crush buds and leaves, heat them in a saucepan with a small amount of oil, and rub the concoction on her painful, arthritic joints.


Cannabis was so common Director Anslinger had to come up with a new name for the drug to convince Americans to fear the cultural practice and use. Mexicans had a slang name for cannabis — “mota.” Nobody seems to know why Anslinger created the name “marihuana.”

Harry Anslinger directed the Federal Narcotics Bureau (precursor to the DEA)

Due to the hatred of Anslinger, millions of lives were swept up in the drug war’s dragnet, if lives weren’t outright ended. Anslinger’s action wasn’t so much a war on drugs as it was a war on culture, which was an attempt to squelch the radical freedom of the Jazz Age for people of color. Anslinger was a “xenophobe with no capacity for intellectual nuance.” His racist views corrupted his work to devastating effect. Yet Director Anslinger couldn’t have done it, nor reigned as long as he did, without a cast of complicit politicians who shared his bigoted vision for what America should be. [source]

Where do you stand? Do you support Anslinger’s bigoted vision for what America should be?

America’s Paradigm Shifting Cannabis Landscape

Regardless the racism, hatred and deception, truth eventually prevails in a free and open society. A recent survey commissioned by Remedy Review found almost 75% of respondents believe natural remedies, including cannabis products, are safer overall than prescription medications, while 78% believe cannabis should be more widely available as a pain treatment. [source]

A Bloomberg report this week highlighted the increasingly disturbing practice by the FDA of approving new drugs so quickly that companies are now preparing for a green light months in advance of the scheduled decision date. This pace is considered helpful to patients with rare or untreatable diseases but raises alarms among consumer advocates. [source]

One current pain management practice now supplements traditional pain medications, such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Advil), with Gabapentin and Baclofen — resulting  in a growing number of suicide attempts.

“Gabapentin and Baclofen are two medications that have seen increased availability to patients as alternatives to opioids for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. With greater accessibility, poison center exposures have demonstrated a marked increase in toxic exposures to these two medications.”
Kimberly Reynolds of the University of Pittsburgh.

Pain News Network has repeatedly warned about abuse and lack of effectiveness of Gabapentin, a nerve medication increasingly prescribed to treat fibromyalgia, neuropathy and other types of chronic pain. [source]

Between 2013 and 2017, calls involving the abuse and misuse of Gabapentin went up nearly 120 percent, while reports of Baclofen being abused or misused rose nearly 32 percent from 2014 to 2017.

Researches identified only 19 deaths involving Gabapentin as possible suicides during the five-year study period, but there were thousands of Gabapentin-related calls each year coded as attempted suicides — including over 10,000 calls in 2017 alone.


Even more concerning is calls about attempted suicides involving Gabapentin rose 80 percent, while calls about attempted suicides with Baclofen increased 43 percent. Co-ingestion of sedatives and opioids were common for both medications.

Lack of trust in the U.S. government’s drug approval process is a valid concern. In addition, a significant cohort (66%) of survey respondents said natural treatments were more affordable than prescription drugs, while 56% said they were easier to obtain.

Interestingly, 50% of survey participants said they used natural remedies because they didn’t want to become addicted to prescription medication. Over 70,000 Americans died last year due to prescription-drug-related overdose. Nobody has died from Medical Cannabis overdose.

Respondents where clear (80%) doctors should be legally responsible for overprescribing opioids and encouraging addiction. They (59%) felt the best way to fight the opioid crisis in the United States is to increase regulations on drug companies and the manufacturers that make the opioids.

America’s Favorite Pastime Ends Cannabis Prohibition

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports, as part of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Player Association’s (MLBPA) recent agreement on a treatment program for opioids, the league will also remove cannabis from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers. Major league players are not been tested for cannabis but minor leaguers have been. [source]

The proposal faced much initial skepticism, as drug testing in professional sports has tended to focus on punishment and suspensions, and such punitive measures tend to discourage those struggling with addiction from seeking the help they need.

It is great to see the league being forward-thinking on this particular issue. The messaging on [cannabis] has, for decades, been misleading. As a result, the drug grew a reputation it didn’t deserve. In this day and age, many players use or have used the drug without it having a major impact on their lives. In many cases, the impact is positive.
Bill Baer, NBC Sports

Richard Nixon Was a Racist

President Nixon signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which established the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse — known as the Shafer Commission after its chairman, Raymond P. Shafer — to study cannabis abuse in the United States.

During their presentation of the commission’s First Report to Congress, Executive Director Sonnenreich and Chair Shafer recommended the decriminalization of cannabis in small amounts, with Shafer stating:

[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.

Yet Nixon ignored his own commission and launched the War on Americans who use drugs as a way to lock up Black people. Per his own top advisor:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and Black people.”

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
John Erlichmann, Nixon’s Domestic Policy Chief, 1994

Don’t be like Richard Nixon; don’t be a racist. The term “marijuana” is as vile as “n*gger” or “f*ggot.” Don’t use the M-word. Be sophisticated and woke. It’s cannabis. Along with a majority of U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Canada has fully decriminalized both medical and recreational use. Mexico legalized medical cannabis and is scheduled to legalize recreational use in April 2020.

It’s a changing world for cannabis. Be the change in your corner of the world!

Remember you heard it here first. Please leave your comments below and be sure to FOLLOW ClearHeath Life Strategies. We provide News of the News You Wish You Knew.

Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”

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