Marijuana In Today's Pop Culture

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Marijuana in Today's Pop Culture


Marijuana has been used as a medicine for millennia by cultures spanning the globe. Ever since 1937, that medical necessity has fallen in America to political pressure, and the cannabis plant remains illegal regardless of intended use. Since then, patients have continued demanding marijuana's therapeutic effects, thus prompting the pharmaceutical industry to find a legitimate means of meeting their needs without violating federal law. This quest for "legal weed" resulted in the introduction of dronabinol (a synthetic drug commonly referred to by its trade name Marinol), into contemporary American pharmacopoeia(Soderstrom, et al., 131-135).

However, this "solution" to the medical marijuana question now poses a double standard: whereas, medical marijuana users still face severe penalties, including loss of property and mandatory incarceration, for therapeutically using an illegal substance, Marinol users enjoy the benefits of marijuana's active ingredient, tetrahydracannibidol (THC), without the criminal penalties or the social stigma. With this paradox in mind, I intend to examine the vastly different public perceptions of these two essentially similar substances, marijuana and Marinol, while framing this complex analysis within a broader historical and theoretical structure.

This examination will focus first on each of these two drugs individually, and will then illustrate the disparate public discourse in American pop culture surrounding natural and synthetic THC, respectively(Kouri, 302-308). Without taking a definite position on this hotly debated issue, this analysis will reveal how politics influence science, how marijuana has garnered such a distinctively negative reputation, and how Marinol has successfully appeased the anti-marijuana American public.

Marijuana Addiction

No illegal drug in the United States is used more frequently by more people than marijuana. Next to alcohol and tobacco, it is the most consumed mind-altering substance in the world. In the Canadian province of British Columbia, where marijuana laws are more lax than in the United States, it is a $6 billion a year cash crop(Green, Ritter, 40-49). A significant movement has taken hold in the United States over the last few decades to legalize marijuana.

Advocates point to the number of pot users incarcerated as a sign that America's War on Drugs has been a complete failure. Should this powerful plant be legalized? Let's take a closer look at what marijuana is and what it does to the human body.

The Drug

A marijuana cigarette is made up of certain leaves, seeds, and flowers from the hemp plant. Throughout most of the United States, it is either illegal to farm hemp or you need a special permit, even though the majority of the plant can only be used to make fabric and paper and is not psychoactive. According to researchers, the THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) levels of today's pot are significantly higher than what was being used even 20 years ago(Brook, et al., 35-39). THC is actually a mild hallucinogen that can cause mild auditory and visual hallucinations.

When using marijuana, a person will likely experience a feeling of light headedness, a dry mouth and eyes, blood shot, red and itchy eyes as well ...
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