Cannabis Legalization

Should Romania Take the 'Green Train'?

September 02, 2015  |  By Theodor Aron Porutiu , Romania

Cannabis Legalization

Photo : Wikimedia Commons

Cannabis legalization has become a more and more discussed topic around the world, mainly due to it recently being legalized (for medicinal or recreational use) in almost 30 states from the US and other countries such as Paraguay or Spain. What about Romania?

Unlike US’s NORML organization, or the” WE’ED like to talk” initiative in the EU, there are no organizations in Romania supporting legalization and people don’t really know that much about weed.  But why would you care? Well, cannabis is used in the US to treat epilepsy, cancer, arthritis and other health problems and it can be a safer alternative to alcohol. It is also of great impact in our society among young adults or adolescents.

In the West, the fact that cannabis is harmless if used in moderation,  and that it helps with many health problems is pretty well known,  due to studies such as the one posted in American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 87 No. 4 9, about it not being deadly (literarelly, it cannot kill you. To put that in perspective, over 26,000 deaths occurred directly from alcohol in the US, in 2013, as data gathered from Prevention Centers suggests), or the one posted in National Academy Press. p.193. 6, about it not leading to violence . Or because of the successful medicinal use in the US, with no consequences, on children with Drevet, or people with arthritis. Moreover, D.A.R.E. (To keep kids off drugs), an anti-drug organization based in the U.S. came out as pro-legalization earlier this month, claiming it is “for the best”.

It is true that it can have bad effects on a person’s body and mind, as found in studies such as “Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey”. But, as most governmental anti-drug organizations claim, only on “heavy users”, so there’s definitely room for debate here.  

In Romania however, people are not informed on the subject. Although it is the illicit drug of choice here, as studies done by the ANA (Asociatia Nationala Anti-drog) suggest, the vast majority of people don’t know anything about it. “Asociatia pentru Dravet si alte epilepsii rare”  is the only one lobbying for legalization, after its president, Adela Chiricu (whose child has Dravet) saw other children getting cured with cannabis in the US. Unfortunately, they are alone in this, and they do not raise awareness.

Gateway drug

Romanian  “anti-weed” advocates often admit that cannabis has little to no negative effects on the user and acknowledge it’s health benefits, but nonetheless they claim it is dangerous because it is a gateway drug (which means that people using cannabis will end up using harder drugs). I personally know people who started using cannabis and ended up using cocaine, heroin, LSD and other bad stuff. 

One of these people, I’ll call him George, after smoking cannabis got to doing coke, LSD, and just all around screwing up his body in less than a year. I asked him if he considers that weed got him to try out harder drugs, to which he said: “All this gateway drug thing is bullshit. Honestly, before weed I was getting drunk regularly. And even if it wasn’t for that, I take any drug that comes my way because I don’t care about the health consequences. I have one life, I want to live it to the fullest, and I see that as being the fullest. If you’re into that healthy sporty lifestyle though it’s likely that you won’t end up doing all the bad things if you smoke weed. I actually know a lot of people that limit themselves to weed. You know, it’s not about the substance itself, it’s about what you want. ” I then asked him if he thinks legalizing cannabis would make it less of a gateway drug, and he responded: “Oh definitely. You can look at the “Dream shop” case, in Romania. Up until 2010, “the shops” (Romanian slang for ethnobotanics) were legal, and all the people I know that where smoking mostly smoked only these light drugs from the shops. They were legal and cheap, so people weren’t so eager to risk their freedom for something just a bit stronger. “

After extensive research, I first smoked cannabis a year ago and have used it occasionally since then. At no point have I felt the need to try something harder, even though I‘ve had the opportunity. I never get drunk anymore, since cannabis provides me with a hangover and regrets-free, fun experience. I also used to have sleeping problems, which have now disappeared. This is my small experience however, so it cannot necessarily account for the big picture.

There’s definitely more to the subject, but I cannot hope to cover it all. In the end, I urge you to inform yourselves. Such a big step as legalizing cannabis is only taken if the people want to.  Should Romania take the “green train”? It’s up to you.

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