With the stigma around marijuana slowly diminishing, as well as the fact that states have been legalizing medical marijuana and many countries have legalized it all together in the past few years, lively discussions are spurred about the benefits and harms of consuming cannabis.
The question you will most likely ask is how does it relate to you as a vegan. How do you consume it, besides smoking? Does it have high nutritional values? Should you even want to try and consume it?
I try to answer those questions below.
Sativa vs Indica
In order to fully understand it, I must provide some background on marijuana. There are two kinds, or strains of cannabis: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.
Cannabis Sativa: It is grown for hemp, has a lot of great fibrous stem and is full of amazingly nutritional seeds. Sativa has a low level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive substance that gets one “high” when smoking it). Cannabis Sativa plants make up less than 0.01 percent of total production, because they are based on naturally selected strains which produce no measurable THC. It does not get you “high” when you consume it.
Cannabis Indica: With its bushy little stem and having little to no seeds, Indica has a much higher level of THC than Sativa. Cannabis has male and female plants, meaning that it is a dioecious plant. Thus, Sativa and Indica should not be grown near each other. People who consume it as an opiate use isolated female plants. If the female plant gets pollinated by the males, less THC is produced by the flowers on the female.
What Are the Effects of Medical Marijuana?
The population has always been divided, with those who are pro and those who are not constantly providing evidence about the positive and negative effects of this potent plant.
The pro-pot people claim that medical marijuana is an efficient aid when it comes to treating the symptoms of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and eventually AIDS and cancer. Still, even with the lack of all the necessary research and proof, there are some well-documented medicinal properties of marijuana. They include the lowering of eye pressure (glaucoma), amelioration of vomiting and nausea, treating gastrointestinal illnesses and stimulating hunger in cancer and AIDS patients, as well as easing neuropathic pain. Medicinal marijuana is also praised for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The other side claims that marijuana is a “gateway” drug which leads to a more aggressive use of much harder drugs, is addictive and dangerous to use. It may cause injuries to the brain, immune system, lungs and cause serious health problems such as infertility. Those who are against it say that advocating for its medical properties is just a front for its recreational use and legalization, and that the use of cannabis is unnecessary because there are other legal drugs which can help ease pain. Marijuana still lacks FDA approval in the USA. However, it is legal to use at state level (in some states), decriminalized for personal use and medical purposes in several countries (Argentina, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Ukraine, etc.), or fully legalized (Netherlands, Colombia, Uruguay, and partially Spain).
Medical Marijuana and Veganism
According to FDA regulations, before new drugs are permitted to proceed with any clinical trials, they are required to undergo animal experimentation. All drugs have been subject to animal testing at one time, regardless if they contain animal ingredients. This makes it impossible to avoid animal-tested medications.
It is almost impossible to determine the actual effect of a drug on humans without human clinical trials, while drugs such as prescription medications, vaccines and over-the-counter medications all contain various toxic ingredients in endless combinations. There is only a 5 to 25 percent correlation between human and animal results, meaning that animal experimentation data is to be considered dangerously unreliable. Different organisms react differently to the same amounts of ingested chemical because of their fundamental biochemical and genetic differences.
As for vegans, medical marijuana can be seen as more vegan than an antibiotic pill, and a vegan alternative to some traditional pharmaceutical medication. One can decide to cultivate it locally, knowing that the cannabis plant produces oxygen, adds nutrients back to the soil and prevents soil-erosion. Cultivating it will cut down on overall costs related to obtaining prescription medication and energy costs in shipping. It will also save lives of non-human species because it eliminates the need for animal testing. Cbd oil products are also popular.
Vegans can try to affect change by supporting charities that fund non-animal research and by contacting the governmental agency responsible for regulations on animal testing.