No, Cannabis Doesn’t Belong in the Vice Category
When talking about cannabis and regulation as well as cannabis and safe consumption practices, many conversations end up comparing cannabis to alcohol and tobacco.
Alcohol and tobacco are highly regulated industries in which products are consumed, orally or through inhalation. There are restrictions designed to prevent minors from using them too. That’s where the similarities end. Many lump cannabis in with “vice” products. This is problematic because:
we’re still struggling with overcoming misinformation and false narratives and associations with the vice industries muddy the waters even more.
we’d benefit by proactively acknowledging that cannabis is truly unique in how it has (quasi) arrived at market.
there is no aspect of medicinal or wellness-based consumption for alcohol or tobacco, while that’s inherent to cannabis.
In an article in the 1931 New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, “The Marihuana Menace,” Dr. AE Fossier writes “The debasing and baneful influence of hashish and opium is not restricted to individuals but has manifested it-self in nations and races as well. The dominant race and most enlightened countries are alcoholic, while the races and nations addicted to hemp and opium, some of which once attained to heights of culture and civilization have deteriorated both mentally and physically.” As early as 1931, Dr. Fossier, a supporter and collaborator of FBN’s Harry Anslinger who was widely known as a bigot and racist, pushed the “cannabis use leads to heroin use” narrative with no data or evidence to back up his claim. He wasn’t the first and certainly hasn’t been the last. There is still an ever present undercurrent of vice and related stigma in regards to cannabis use as a result of inaccurate and fabricated narratives, which are tied to perceptions of those who use it.
To say cannabis is truly unique is an understatement. This plant has been used for thousands of years to treat hundreds of ailments and conditions. This plant has properties specific only to cannabis. This plant has come to market via state-by-state legalization, despite national and international prohibition in a completely unparalleled way, in comparison to any other product or substance. Cannabis intersects with government and policy, wellness and health, macro and microeconomics, crime and correctional control, race and issues of equity, environmental impact, and recreation and socialization. There is no other product, substance, or topic that is comparable to the ancient plant in regards to its convergence with so many important areas of the lives of the American public.
Each cannabis strain is different; so is each body that interacts with it. This does not align with alcohol or tobacco. For thousands of years, healers of all backgrounds have encouraged its use. That does not ring true for alcohol and tobacco either. For decades, cannabis advocates around the world have shared accurate information, based on careful research, observation, and application, and have been able to prove (even if health institutions choose not to acknowledge verifiable facts) that the wellness properties associated with safe, appropriate cannabis use are considerable. No one can say the same for alcohol or tobacco.
Cannabis deserves a unique classification that’s distinctly different from all the others, especially the vice categories of consumable substances. That inaccurate categorization has been a part of the marijuana/cannabis narrative for far too long.
Contact Elucidation Strategies for cannabis educational services.