It is my privilege to introduce you to Kate Fulton as my guest blogger.
Kate is 18 years old and currently completing her South Australian Certificate of Education. Kate is student from Victor Harbor and crafted this essay to complete an expository writing assignment for her year 12 English class.
Kate chose this topic for a number of reasons, the most prominent being that she is passionate about ending Cannabis prohibition in Australia. Kate is passionate about this topic, not only for the sake of her family, but also for the Nation as a whole.
Kate speaks of the privilege it is to be immersed in a family and in a culture which allowed her to gain a great deal of knowledge and understanding on the topic; knowledge and understanding she wishes to share.
I am delighted to be able to use this platform to enable Kate’s words to reach a far greater audience than her Year 12 English teacher.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight Kate, thank you.
This is Kate’s piece.
Cannabis is a naturally occurring substance, which has been prevalent and well utilised throughout human history.
With its plethora of benefits to the health and wellbeing of society, legalising the use of cannabis both medicinally and recreationally would be an asset to the health of Australia. Returning to a culture which is inclusive of cannabis would result in lower instances of progressive illness related fatality, as well as alcohol related death and injury. Furthermore, it is biologically evident that humans and cannabis are compatible on a cellular level in a way this is present in no other form of medicine. Cannabis is the single most versatile, and natural form of medicine known to man, and it is ludicrous to deny it to the Australian public.
With a wide range of uses, cannabis was once present in industry pertaining to many areas of life (Schaffer Library, 2016) (Herer, 2016). However, the positive mentality toward cannabis changed dramatically in the 1930’s, when many negative rumours surrounding the use of cannabis arose, these rumours needlessly soiled the reputation of the plant.
This lead to its benefits to society being stifled due to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively prohibited the sale and use of cannabis in America. Unfortunately, this tax heavily influenced Australia’s cannabis laws. When this tax was later replaced by the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s, whereby cannabis was included as Schedule 1, aligning it with harmful substances such as heroin, Australia adopted this law also (Drug Policy, 2016).
Since then, due to the history of its use in medicine, as well as recreationally, cannabis’ inclusion in the Controlled Substances Act, has been debated by activists throughout Australia. We as a nation should not be denied a natural substance with such a positive and lengthy history as cannabis.
When discussing cannabis, it is common for an individual to first consider its psychoactive effects, what is uncommon, however, is for cannabis to be viewed in its entirety, not only for its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Most individuals are not aware that most of the myriad of 66 cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant are not psychoactive (University of Washington , 2013). In fact, even the most well-known of the psychoactive cannabinoids, THC, is able to be utilised without psychoactive effects. Meaning that cannabis can be utilised as a form of medicine without having subsequent psychoactive effects. For instance, it is possible to infuse cannabis into a lipid medium at a very low temperature, thus utilising cannabinoids for their medicinal effects without any psychoactive effects.
The benefits of cannabis medicine were evident to me due to a terminal and progressive, inflammatory lung disease with which my sister is afflicted. The only effective treatment to which she has been subjected in 13 years of suffering, was cannabis therapy, without which, she would be dead.
Cannabis is also the most versatile medicine known to man as its most prominent component is largely subject to its preparation, this means that the same form of natural medication can have hundreds of applications, depending only upon how it is prepared and consumed. For instance, a cold-fusion will create an oil which is non-psychoactive but is a potent anti-inflammatory, which can be used to treat a range of inflammatory illnesses including asthma and multiple-sclerosis (Science Daily, 2008).
While the high levels of THC present in concentrates have been proven to kill cancer cells, and treat side effects of cancer, such as nausea, anxiety, and loss of appetite more effectively than standardised treatment methods (National Cancer Institute, 2016). These are only a few of the numerous medicinal benefits which pertain to the cannabis plant, the possibilities within cannabis medicine are endless. It is totally senseless to allow people to suffer, or die, rather than to allow them a substance which is natural and abundantly versatile.
Our species is biologically compatible with the components of the cannabis plant. Are you aware that humans produce cannabinoids in their breast milk? This is because the human body has a system which responds exclusively to the molecules found in the cannabis plant – this system is called the Human Endocannabinoid System. This means, that biologically speaking, humans are designed to consume cannabis as part of their daily diet. The main role of the endocannabinoid system in humans is to maintain homeostasis .
Endocannabinoid receptors can be found in many cells and tissues throughout the body, including the brain, connective tissues, nerve cells, organs, and glands. These receptors are crucial for a number of reasons, though one of the most prominent is the ability of cannabinoids to regulate autophagy, this means that the molecules found in the cannabis plant, when consumed by humans, are able to regulate the destruction of cells.
This process promotes cell heath, and subsequently, overall heath. This is significant because it means the consumption of cannabis, in any form whether it be psychoactive or non-psychoactive, promotes heath beyond treating a specific illness (Sulak, 2016). For these reasons and dozens further, cannabis in raw, cured, and concentrated forms, can reasonably be considered a heath food or supplement, no different from a multi-vitamin. You wouldn’t prohibit vitamins, would you? How could anyone be opposed to promoting overall health and well-being? It is simply not ethical to deny the populous of Australia a substance so acutely beneficial to their health.
As a nation, Australia is known for its culture of drinking and having a good time, but unfortunately, alcohol is not beneficial to our health, and we consume far too much of it. Approximately 15 Australians die due to alcohol related illness and injury daily, while a further 430 are hospitalised. According to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, approximately 55,707 Australian women and 101,425 Australian men are hospitalised each year due to alcohol related disease (The Conversation, 2014).
And while alcohol is a social lubricant chosen by many Australians, it is not uncommon for alcohol consumption to be fatal, conversely, it is virtually impossible to die due to a cannabis overdose. In fact, one is more likely to die from a coconut falling on their head, or an ant bite, or being hit by a golf ball, than a cannabis overdose. As well as this, any negative adverse effects of cannabis on the health of those who consume it are downright negligible. But not only does cannabis have its own direct health benefits, research shows it could also aid in the reduction of alcohol consumption; an obviously prevalent issue in our society (Strauss, 2014).
Therefore, legalising the use of cannabis for recreation could reduce Australia’s alcohol related health issues, without depriving us of the nature of substance utilisation as a social lubrication, so associated with our larrikin charm.
Cannabis is a naturally occurring substance, with a rich and lengthy history of use in medicine and recreation, among other applications. Humans are compatible with cannabis on a biological level, with the result of improving their general health and wellbeing, as I have experienced first-hand during travels to British Columbia for medicinal cannabis trials pertaining to my terminally ill sisters.
During this experience, I learnt a great deal about the components of the cannabis plant, and its benefits to society. It is also evident that, as a recreational vice, cannabis is superior to alcohol, due to its negligible fatality rate, as well as its potential to reduce alcohol consumption. For these reasons, it is undeniable that legalising cannabis would be an asset to the health of the Australian populous.