High Country

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Marijuana, weed, flower, bud, pot – call it what you will but humans have been using cannabis for millennia. This is an ancient medicinal plant that was widely used by physicians in America and everywhere else on the planet right up until 1937 when the government decided to make cannabis illegal. And just because you make something illegal doesn’t magically strip it of its therapeutic properties.

In 1970 cannabis was classified as “Schedule 1” drug, when the US government decided that the plant had zero medical value and a high potential for abuse.

Forty years on, medical pot is legal in 18 states, including Washington DC. In November 2012, Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize small amounts of weed for recreational use. With the world’s eyes on Colorado, which just green-lit the first-ever regulated, taxed, legal, recreational cannabis market, Motherboard headed west to see about the new green rush. They first went in a nondescript, industrial corner of town, in the grow house for Denver Relief – Colorado’s second oldest medical pot dispensary.

Cannabis isn’t just a plant; it’s not really the evil weed that everybody thinks it is. Right now universities and college camps are not even allowed to study or research cannabis, which is pretty ridiculous. They’re allowed to study cocaine and all the other drugs, they can do experiments, research and development on them, but they can’t do that with cannabis. We know that there’s medicinal value in cannabis and the government knows damn well that there’s medicinal value in cannabis, and the fact that they don’t let the Universities research it, it’s a crying shame.

The government is not that interested in funding therapeutic studies, they’re willing to fund studies looking at how bad cannabis is for you. You can only get cannabis from the government, you can’t get it anywhere else, and DEA is making sure that nobody else can grow or research cannabis. The government is saying that cannabis is “Schedule 1,” that there is no accepted medical use for it, and on the other hand they’re not allowing any research to happen, to show that it has any sort of therapeutic efficacy.

Even if you’ve never smoked a joint in your life you have sort of internal cannabis in your body. You have an endocannabinoid system. You’ve got cannabinoid receptors in your brain, liver, spleen, bladder, your immune system cells… you’ve got receptors all over your body for this plant, so when you smoke your sort of stimulating working within the endocannabinoid system. You’re stimulating your cannabinoid receptors that help to regulate your immune system, energy, metabolism, blood sugar, etc.

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