In many parts of India you can see people enjoying bhang/hashish (or cannabis/marijuana) by the roadside without attracting a look of surprise or disapproval. It is only when the Western world began to raise hue and cry that people in the urban areas began to smoke/drink it discreetly at the occasional activation of the dormant laws.
In nearly 80 per cent of India it is still openly consumed (generally in moderation); some places even have legal shops. India does not suffer from the Western world’s obsession with “sin” and “evil” that invariably leads to suppression, excesses and confusion. A recent Western study again serves to create unnecessary alarm instead of creating a healthy debate on this issue.
The Independent of Britain reports: “Today, an estimated one in 25 adults of working age – 166 million people around the world – has used cannabis to get high, either in ignorance or defiance of its damaging effects on health. Now, the extraordinary popularity of the drug is posing a significant public health challenge, doctors say.
“Writing in The Lancet, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland and Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales, Australia, say cannabis slows reaction times and increases the risk of accidents, causes bronchitis, interferes with learning, memory and education and, most seriously, may double the risk of schizophrenia. Yet these effects have failed to dent its popularity.”
A comment that followed this article is pertinent: “If there has been an increase of schizophrenia at all in the West, and it can be established that there is a correlation with cannabis, couldn’t it be that cannabis makes a person see things more clearly? And seeing things more clearly, makes a person vulnerable and uncertain.
“And considering the utter and sheer stupidity of modern politics, I would definitely become schizophrenic if I had to grow up in these times. I would like to suggest that schizophrenia is first of all caused by a political system that is based on lies, distortion of reality, egoism, greed and most of all, a consistent lack of morality.
“If our enlightened leaders had put just as much effort in fighting the disastrous effects of alcohol abuse, just think how many lives could have been saved….”
Read the details about the study here…
So what can be done? Despite stringent laws that the Western world has, a country cannot put such a huge population behind bars. In fact, the first question to be asked is why so many people are turning to drugs? Is there something basically wrong with the manner these countries are being run? We generally look at the symptoms and not at the real disease.
Or, is there a conspiracy to make such a highly popular natural drug illegal so that the mafia, and their benefactors in high places, rake in the mullah? British actor David Niven recalled in his wonderful book “Moon’s A Balloon” how he indulged in bootlegging in America during the prohibition days there.
No one dare question the dangerous side-effects of certain drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry, which is said to be most powerful and, in terms of profit-making, next only to the arms manufacturing industry.
Alcohol and medical drugs manufacturers are encouraged to glamorize their products and seduce the most vulnerable population. It is only recently that stricter warnings have been implemented on cigarette packets. So we now have powerful alcohol, medical drugs and tobacco lobbies who would not allow any competition. These well-entrenched lobbies influence decision-making at the top worldwide.
Says a Wikipedia entry: “Cannabis was criminalized in the United States in 1937 due to Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Several theories try to explain why it is illegal in most Western societies. Jack Herer, a cannabis legalization activist and writer, argues that the economic interests of the paper and chemical industry were a driving force to make it illegal.
“Another explanation is that beneficial effects of hemp would lower the profit of pharmaceutical companies which therefore have a vital interest to keep cannabis illegal. Those economic theories were criticized for not taking social aspect into account. The illegalization was rather a result of racism directed to associate American immigrants of Mexican and African descent with cannabis abuse.”
Wikipedia also provides details about various issues under discussion. For example: “No widely accepted study has ever demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship between the use of cannabis and the later use of harder drugs like heroin and cocaine.
“Cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C., as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania.
“Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus of India and Nepal thousands of years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit. The ancient drug Soma, mentioned in the Vedas as a sacred intoxicating hallucinogen, was sometimes associated with cannabis…”
If governments and the United Nations are seriously worried about public welfare/health they should work towards stopping illegitimate wars, hunger and famine that create mass suffering, killings and tragedies. Thoughtless, shortsighted and greedy acts and deeds of governments create ripe climate for increased consumption of intoxicants, the more potent the better.
by SWARAAJ CHAUHAN
October 16, 2009
The Moderate Voice