The Devil’s Lettuce

A close look at demonic vegetation

I apologize for the brief hiatus. My absence wasn’t due to anything extravagant or glamorous, just quotidian tasks and responsibilities one is often mired in. I offer the following post in recompense.

Marijuana: it’s just a plant, right?

Yes, and so much more. But, I mean, where does one start with such a divisive herb? Marijuana (or cannabis) has such a rich history and is currently one of most hotly debated topics, particularly when it comes to recreational use. Proponents of marijuana often cite potential medicinal applications and its benign nature relative to alcohol and tobacco, while opponents decry it as a gateway drug which threatens to vitiate the moral fabric of society. Historically, intelligent and sober discussions about marijuana have generally been stifled by an oppressive stigmatization that has, in part, successfully equated marijuana with immorality, corruption, debauchery, and licentiousness. (Politicians claimed legalizing marijuana in Colorado would increase adolescent marijuana usage… so much for that, eh?) It’s this condemnation that led to stern legal prohibitions and a poverty of knowledge of marijuana’s true benefits.

In writing this post, I wanted to briefly touch upon the relationship marijuana has had in human history, as well as discuss the opposition to it, the medical research that has been conducted, and what the future holds for this herb. (I may decide to explore these topics more in-depth at a later time.)

This is my longest blog post to date. You have been warned.

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Quarantine Protocols and Civil Liberties

When mandatory isolation reeks of benevolent dictatorship.

As technology and globalized markets reach further into previously inaccessible regions, our world veritably shrinks and we risk exposure to exotic diseases. Sometimes, as is the case in recent years, the diseases of old return for an encore performance. I’m sure we all remember the recrudescence of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 and the concomitant fearmongering by public health officials here in the United States; Thomas Frieden, then-director of the CDC, compared the Ebola outbreak to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. Yes! He seriously said that.

Foolish comments notwithstanding, let’s not be mistaken. Ebola—otherwise known as Ebola virus disease (EVD)—is extraordinarily deadly with, according to the World Health Organization, an average fatality rate of 50%. And Ebola isn’t the only wee-beastie out there. Indeed, many health agencies worldwide acknowledge a category of communicable diseases that don’t receive their due attention and thrive in tropical and subtropical climes—appropriately named neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)—causing considerable hardship to more than a billion people. That’s quite frightening, but as I adamantly maintain: fear is the one true contagion.

Many admirable healthcare workers and volunteers returned from relief efforts in West Africa only to be imprisoned in their homes for twenty-one days, the incubation period for EVD. This is a scandal.

I don’t know as many of my rights as I ought to and I suspect this is true for a lot of people, not just Americans. We are all familiar with legal buzzwords like “freedom of speech,” “human rights,” “due process,” “informed consent,” and “probable cause.” Law & Order—and recent publicized encounters by police with people of color—have been rather instructive. Nonetheless, our civic and legal ignorance can leave us in rather precarious situations which perpetuate negative attitudes towards the justice system, and the government generally.

Would we, when stopped by airport security or customs agents, know whether our rights were being violated? Whether we could be detained based on a list of ambiguous symptoms?

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