Letter: Cannabis demonization still plagues us today

To the editor:

I was dismayed to see all the work, tenacity and energy of Daniel and David Graziani was for naught. These young men did everything by the book. They offered Pittsfield a beautiful venue for the legal sale of cannabis. It's not the "feel of Pittsfield"? What does that mean?

I have seen their plans and the pictures of their elegant venue. I have seen the security and the utmost diligence of not selling to anyone under the age of 21. Their security system is better than a bank!

Unfortunately, people are not educated about cannabis and remain under the spell of "Reefer Madness," the 1936 movie produced by the alcohol industry to demonize cannabis for fear of losing profits. The movie claimed that cannabis can make people jump out of windows, become psychotic, brutally murder people and fry one's brain. Fear of losing profits by the drug and alcohol industries, along with fear and prejudice toward Mexican immigrants, is behind the myths surrounding cannabis.

Mexican immigrants came to the U.S. after the Mexican Revolution in 1910, angering Americans who were afraid of losing jobs. Cannabis became associated with immigrants as they used it as medicine and recreationally. Fear and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking people was associated with marijuana. Terrible crimes were attributed to cannabis, but none of this was true.

In the late 19th century, cannabis became extremely popular in pharmaceutical products and was sold openly by pharmacies, prescribed by physicians and was in over-the-counter products for many symptoms.

In an attempt to stop marijuana prohibition in 1937, Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, testified that the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized cannabis as a medicine. It was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as an effective medicine. The AMA strongly opposed the removal and banning of cannabis. However, alcohol lobbyists were more powerful and cannabis was banned in 1937.

I am a medical cannabis nurse practitioner. My patients suffer from debilitating pain, PTSD, severe anxiety, severe insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel, depression and a host of other disorders. My patients have returned to say how grateful they are to have found relief from a plant that has received so much negative press.

Perhaps if the zoning board looks at the history behind the demonization of this plant, they may see things differently.

Barbara Shea Tracy,



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