Learn more about hemp, marijuana laws in the U.S., drop connotations

Sean Bassinger, Forum editor

What you are about to read may alarm you or make you quite uncomfortable.

Then again, the subject matter may also make you quite comfortable, depending on your preferences or beliefs.

Let’s talk about marijuana.

On Monday, April 18, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to allow medical marijuana to be prescribed in the state. As it stands, recreational marijuana is only legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

I recall when Oregon passed laws last year to allow the recreational use of pot.

I saw many (legally) celebrate, with plans to light up shortly after the laws finalized in July.

But be well aware: many locations of employment continue to test for the drug, as it’s still illegal on a federal level.

If you’re applying for a job in any of the so-called “legal” states, you still might want to be weary of consumption—many companies can and will still test for marijuana.

Even upon legalization of the plant, we still see bouts of negative media reactions.

For instance, the story of Mike Bower, a man who “took the day off from work” to be the first legal weed customer in Washington, initially lost his job following the purchase, according to a July 2014 article from Newsweek.

One may first expect he lost his job for admittedly taking the day off from work.

Nope. Drug tested and failed.

He did, however, receive his job back after it was concluded that he was not necessarily under the influence “at work.”

This is not the only case of cannabis connotations in the work place.

In 2015, KEZI Eugene reporter Cyd Maurer lost her job after testing positive for marijuana, according to an article from The Oregonian.

The incident involved a drug test following a car accident, though Maurer had not been under the influence at the time. With additional support from relatives and colleagues, she has since become a marijuana activist.

I want to address why this is all ridiculous (apparently Bower’s employer agreed when they decided to hire him back).

Marijuana, as we know it, has been illegal since the early 1900s as part of a continuing prohibition, if you will.

Though I can personally understand any negative reactions toward anyone being absolutely under the influence of any substance while they’re on the job, I have to admit that the continued societal setbacks we see are ridiculous.

The fact that a plant that has caused zero deaths—we can’t exactly say that about caffeine or alcohol—is credited as one of the most harmful objects in existence because of continued government and corporate propaganda on the issue.

In addition, we have the outlawing of hemp—this product contains very, very little amounts of the same high-inducing chemicals we see in marijuana.

For those of you who have time, I suggest looking into the works of Jack Herer, the so-called “emperor” of hemp. His works draw on how information from the Hearst company and chemical manufacturer DuPont once worked to drive up negative perceptions of these plants.

In reality, they probably felt threatened because of a loss of profits.

Now whether or not you believe any of this, it’s easy to take a look at two other pieces of work currently in the public domain:

First, a video titled “Hemp for Victory,” which the U.S. government created as a tool of encouragement for hemp farmers during the World War 2 era.

How ironic.

Second, the more popular (and ridiculous) “Reefer Madness,” which continues to serve as a gross exaggeration of what marijuana could do to our society.

Thirty minute into the film and all I could think about was how more of this crap seemed more evident of the effects of alcohol abuse.

Only, you can’t exactly make plastics or paper out of a gin and tonic.

Now I want to make one thing clear: I am not advocating that anyone reading this column drop everything they’re doing and smoke a bong or a joint.

In fact, in the name of progress, I would discourage doing such a thing unless you have nothing to do in the next 24-48 hours.

I am, however, wanting to promote that people set aside these negative perceptions that we’ve developed in society and see what the plant has to offer.

In that spirit, I’d like to wish you all a happy April 20.

If you do choose to smoke, please do so responsibly and review local laws on the matter. Do not smoke outside in broad daylight, for instance.

And dear lord, keep it away from campus. You’re not allowed to have that stuff here.

The opinions expressed in Bassinger’s column do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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