At almost 70-years-old, George Zimmer, the founding machine behind the Men’s Warehouse retail clothing chain, understands the importance of legalizing marijuana, regardless if its application is intended for medical or recreational purposes. It saved him from alcoholism.
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In a recent interview with Business Insider, Zimmer, himself, admits to being an avid cannabis connoisseur, a love affair with the leaf that has been underway for the past five decades. It as during his college years that he first experienced the effects of marijuana, and it has been a mainstay throughout his adult life and into his golden years, he said.
Interestingly, Zimmer credits his relationship with the cannabis plant as being the saving grace behind his savage addiction to alcohol. Although the entrepreneur has had a proud spot on the wagon for somewhere around 35 years, he believes his sobriety would not have been possible without the ability to “transfer the addiction” to marijuana.
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“The fact is — and I mean the scientific fact — [marijuana] is less toxic and dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, which are the main drugs in the United States,” he said. “I refer to [marijuana] as harm reduction. So the way cannabis helps is, when you lose your job, you don’t go on a two-week bender.”
Research collected by the United States government shows that marijuana is indeed a safer alternative to alcohol. To date, there has been not a single overdose death associated with ingesting marijuana, while America’s insatiable thirst for beer, wine and spirits is responsible for claiming the lives of approximately 88,000 people ever year.
But old Uncle Sam still considers the cannabis plant to be one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, lumping it into a Schedule I classification under the confines of the Controlled Substances Act – a ranking that insists the herb has a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value, whatsoever.
The continued outlaw status surrounding marijuana stems from the pot propaganda that originated back in the 1930s with the help of federal narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger. The misinformation that he helped feed the nation can be attributed to popular films like “Reefer Madness,” which was produced to give the viewing public the frightening impression that marijuana leads to violence and an overall junkie mentality.
It is the persistent demonization of the herb that, Zimmer says, inspired him to become a vocal advocate for legalization.
“I’m just following a kind of lifetime passion of mine to help correct this myth,” he said.