Mainstream vs. Alternative Media; who do we

believe? The Journal of Media Studies Writer Discussion of the legalization of marijuana

brings up two main issues,

those who are pro- marijuana and those who are anti- marijuana. These issues have been

covered by both

mainstream and alternative media, mainstream being pro, and alternative being anti. These

two factions have been

arguing over this issue in the halls of justice for many years. Because most of the American

society is mainly

exposed to only mainstream media, they are not aware of other factors of legalizing

marijuana that alternative media

covers. The problem caused by this lack of exposure, is that the public may be deprived

of the truth, and may be

led to believe facts that are not true. Marijuana and Medicine Both pro and anti-

marijuana groups have discussed

whether or not marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. Mainstream groups do not

believe that there are any

convincing reasons to make marijuana a treatment to sick patients. Their position is that

marijuana can have harmful

long-term effects. The Anti-Legalization Forum explains that some of these effects are:

impairment of the immune

system due to the inability of T-cells to battle off diseases, delaying puberty in both males

and females, and

unhealthy and smaller children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy. The

Drug Enforcement

Administration believes that since marijuana is not accepted by any American health

associations, there is no reason

to legalize the drug. They think that the main reason why pro marijuana advocates use the

medical use argument is

because the uninformed public can be easily convinced to support the movement. Simply

not enough evidence

proves that marijuana can be used medically (Claim V). Unlike the D.E.A., lobbying

groups such as the Cannabis

Action Network and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, believe that marijuana is a

beneficial herb, and not a harmful

drug (ICLU). Alternative media sources, such as "Marijuana As Medicine," state that

marijuana can be used as

medicine for: nausea, appetite stimulation, relief from vomiting, reduction in spasticity,

glaucoma, epilepsy, anxiety,

depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, stimulation of the immune system, Aids patient and

cancer patients. For

victims with AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis, smoking marijuana is believed to help

reduce emesis, suppress

vomiting, and stimulate the appetite. People with multiple sclerosis are convinced that

smoking marijuana also

reduces the intensity of their spasms. "Marijuana As Medicine," a Cannabis Action

Network pamphlet, states that,

"Two highly qualified and experienced ophthalmologists have accepted marijuana as

having a medical use in

treatment of glaucoma." When taken, parts of cannabis lower intraocular pressure in the

eye. There are rumors that

marijuana suppresses the immune system. "Marijuana Myths" dismisses this belief because

the myth was based on

studies where the experimental animals were given near-lethal-doses of cannabinoids, and

these results have never

been repeated on humans. In fact, two studies displayed that the immune system may

actually have been stimulated

by the use of hashish and marijuana. On the other hand, a separate alternative source

stated that marijuana

(Delta-nine-THC) does possess an immunosuppressive effect. Marijuana shuts off some

cells in the liver, instead of

stimulating them. The effect is only temporary and goes away rapidly. According to

"Marijuana As Medicine,"

Approximately 30% of all prescription drugs can be replaced by THC, so pro- marijuana

groups lead to believe

that one of the reasons why the drug is not legalized is because it would take the profit

away from currently used

drugs. These groups suppose that since no one has ever died from marijuana use, it must

be safe. We can already

see the different myths that people read and get confused about. The one thing that pro-

marijuana groups agree

upon is that "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active

substances known to man"

(Marijuana As Medicine). Marijuana and Crime Another issue considered by the mass

media is whether marijuana

has an effect on crime or not. As written in the "Anti-Legalization Forum," the D.E.A.

believes that drug use

contributes to crime and violence. Many police officers say that criminal activity is not

caused by dealers, but by

those that are under the influence of the drug. A study showed that among males (18-49

years old) those who used

cannabis were ten times more likely to commit violent acts than non-users. Anti marijuana

groups look to the

example of gangs, after the repeal of Prohibition, gangster activity had not decreased.