Friday, September 29, 2023
The Tide Has Turned

Photography by Matthew Bourgeois

The Tide Has Turned

Since the early 1900s, cannabis has been illegal, and up until most recently has had its name and reputation stomped on by individuals driven by greed and hunger. Hemp was grown and used by Native Americans for thread, clothing, paper and food. Later, in 1632 and throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, farmers were encouraged to grow hemp. The Virginia Assembly mandated “that every planter as soon as he may, provide seed of flax and hemp and sow the same.” Hemp was used as a legal tender to pay taxes, as well as shipped to England to be used for textiles and paper. Once America gained its independence in the late 18th century the crop continued to be cultivated. (A fun fact, 1914 the $10 bill was printed on hemp and featured farmers farming hemp.)


Cannabis has met the needs of every society in each age it has found itself moving through; where the people needed sustenance they were fed, where the people needed to be clothed they were able to make clothing and shoes as the fiber of the hemp plant is strong. In the 21st century we as a people, in most recent times and more specifically with the recent shutdown, have begun to realise how far we have moved from our natural selves. Many accept cannabis as a gateway to bringing us back to what matters most--our well being and the homeostasis of our systems. 


As of late, the media has mainly focused on showing separation and destruction amongst people and has ignored much of the positive progress being made across the nation. Amidst these trying times, we find ourselves witnessing one of the greatest revolution’s yet, a change in the way we see Cannabis--a plant that has not only remediated but healed individuals, a plant that can change the way we as a society take care of ourselves, mind, body and soul. Cannabis is a plant that will be the gateway to balance --  Light has overcome dark!


I was raised in a country whose people have recently become democratic and have traditionally been led by religious customs. For some, keeping the commandments is what gave them the ‘peace of mind’ by ensuring you at least have something to look forward to one day. I was raised within a community riddled with drug addiction, and using any drug was the fear of every parent. It was one of the few things  children are scared out of; in my childhood it was impressed upon me how bad drugs are--especially “dagga” (cannabis), as it was the ‘gateway’ drug. 


But a gateway to what? 


I’ve found it to be a gateway to healing. When you use regeneratively grown cannabis for the purpose of healing, and you enjoy it respectfully, you are given the opportunity to create and maintain stasis within your body. Each of us has an endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for ensuring balance of the body's immune response, communication between cells, appetite, and metabolism ( Today we have immense information at our fingertips; we are in a time when our education and self-development are in our own hands.


Through observation and travels, I have come across individuals who were raised, like myself, to believe that things such as cannabis are to be considered ‘no good’, only to realize through education and experience that it may be in our best interest to reeducate ourselves.  We can use this time to equip our mind, our greatest asset. 


Cannabis is one plant with multiple uses, and has so much to offer the planet. It has been found through scientific studies that hemp can be used for a process called phytoremediation, which “has been used to remove radioactive elements from soil and water…”quoted from The Vastness of uses of the cannabis/ hemp plant will continue to amaze you the more you learn, hear and discover for yourself. 


In our recent past, we have witnessed several states sue Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, owned by the Sackler family. The lawsuits argued that the family was responsible for the starting and sustaining of the opioid crisis according to NBC news. In October 2020, the makers of OxyContin plead guilty to federal criminal charges and have settled to pay 8 billion in damages.


The Opioid crisis is an epidemic that has cost many their lives and has seen even more lose their quality of life due to addiction. This step towards holding companies accountable for the degradation of the wellbeing of people; as the nation steps towards wholeness, this case brings hope to those individuals and families who have been affected and impacted by addiction, and is a reminder that their well being does matter. By acknowledging the benefits of organic alternatives (namely cannabis) we can offer safer options for patients currently seeking relief from medications we know to be harmful--and prevent future addiction in the first place.


In September 2020, the legalization of cannabis was meant to appear before the House of Representatives, where legislators will in time be voting on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Due to the pandemic, this vote has been delayed. If the bill is passed, the bill will see the decriminalization of marijuana on a federal level, and allow each state to set their own laws on cannabis. Further, the decriminalisation of cannabis will see the release and expungement of certain federally charged individuals and  a 5% commercial cannabis tax to be reinvested into communities that have been affected by the former law according to a High Times article. 


The impact decriminalizing cannabis has on not only the American people but the world at large is enormous; as is known to many immigrants, where America goes, the world tends to follow. This will help not only those who have been imprisoned on non-violent cannabis related cases, but ease restrictions on further studies into the medicinal uses of cannabis. 


2020 has presented us with many changes, many for the better and in line with our well being. The tide has turned. Cannabis is slowly becoming accepted once again, as we find more research going into the uses and properties of the herb, and with it comes the chance to change the way we have lived; in terms of medicine, materials, and paper to mention a few. In a time when we can focus on all that is not going as it should, may hope be restored that soon we may very well live in a country where therapy and prevention are the first call. As the late herbalist Dr Sebi said “healing has to be consistent with life itself. If it isn’t then it is not healing.” What we put into our bodies is what is used to repair our cells. By giving our bodies ‘life’--clean water, regeneratively grown food and rest--healing can take place.