As long as there is a debate about cannabis, which is admittedly still a controversial subject — especially in states where legislation hasn’t been made regarding marijuana — there will be three continually asked questions: What about stoned driving? How do we protect our children? And, isn’t pot a gateway drug?
The latter question, however, has all but been squashed in public debate, especially with studies and numbers showing that cannabis is actually an exit solution for the opiate based pharmaceuticals and street drugs that are ravishing our country. Many veterans and those in chronic pain have weaned themselves off of not just opiates, but muscle relaxers, benzos and other strong, addictive prescriptions.
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One Democratic Congressman didn’t get the memo, though. During a caller Q and A on CSPAN, Rep. Elijah Cummings made the painful aside, “We know that marijuana is known to be a gateway drug.” Even though the comment came out during his focus on racial disparities in cannabis arrest rates, it still stood out as a tell.
Over previous years, Cummings had voted several times against protecting states rights when it came to marijuana, but he changed his tune in 2014, including the cast of a full turnaround vote that the federal government should not be able to meddle in state law.
While the remark could have been a gaff on Cummings’ part, it could also show that he, and many others who are new to the positive side of the THC table, still holds some lingering prejudice against the plant. Those prejudices could potentially bleed into policies he votes on in the future, but let’s not jump the gun.
Because of his recent track record, it’s likely a safe bet to give Cummings the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes a safety phrase comes out when we aren’t even thinking it. Perhaps Cummings was imagining a much earlier career debate for a moment or maybe he does still believe that cannabis leads to harder, more addictive drugs, but his recent voting record yet stands out.
As long as Cummings continues to vote in favor of cannabis based policies, we can follow the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” Still, the fact that one simple aside that goes against what we’ve learned and have known about cannabis caused such a stir is ultimately positive. People are paying attention and many are changing hardset minds as more and more proofs spill out of the pudding.