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Feminspire | April 19, 2014

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Why Cannabis Legalization is a Feminist Issue

Why Cannabis Legalization is a Feminist Issue

| On 22, Nov 2013

I believe cannabis is a feminist issue. Feminism advocates for equality of all genders, sexual orientations and expressions, and by extension equity for all human beings regardless of social location – which necessitates conversation about subjugated entities and the permissions granted or denied to human beings regarding what they may or may not do with their own bodies.

I will be applying several premises in this article:

  1. Unlike legalized recreational substances such as alcohol and tobacco, cannabis ingestion does not incur death
  2. Cannabis cultivation can be done in such as way as to not produce toxins
  3. Cannabis has extensive medical uses, including the treatment and alleviation of side-effects from mainstream cancer (and other severe illness) treatments
  4. Cannabis has extensive medical applications for women in particular
  5. Cannabis has recreational value

The world is full of laws, and in order for human beings to co-exist peacefully, we need to have limitations on how we exercise our innate human rights so that we do not interfere with the rights of others. Some laws, however, infringe on individuals’ bodily freedoms, and when a law infringes on bodily freedoms that do not infringe on the rights of others that law is an attempt at enslavement to the institutionalized hegemony. No one has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own body, so long as your body is not interfering with the rights or freedoms of others. On the basis of this logic, the illegality of cannabis is an infringement upon human rights.

For women in particular, cannabis has beneficial use, including the alleviation of menstrual and pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood swings and menstrual cramps. In fact, Queen Victoria regularly consumed cannabis to alleviate her menstrual symptoms. And, unlike, common pain-relievers such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Midol), and acetyl-salicylic acid (e.g., Aspirin), cannabis has no long-lasting negative effects upon the liver or gastrointestinal system.

This lack of toxicity to the liver and gastrointestinal system is especially important for those who suffer from medical conditions that necessitate dietary restrictions and considerations (e.g., Celiacs, Chron’s, ABS). For example, persons with Celiacs have reduced liver function that can adversely affect nail growth, alcohol tolerance, and the ability to expel toxins from the body – meaning that the liver is not able to expel acetaminophen before it turns into a deadly toxin that a healthy liver would normally expel before that toxin could do lasting damage to the body. And yet, the majority of North American women are being denied access to cannabis for alleviation of menstrual symptoms.

Part of the problem is that for many centuries menstrual symptoms, including the intense, life-interrupting pain and symptoms of associated syndromes such as dysmenorrhea and endometriosis, weren’t of interest to the (predominately male) medical industry. Even now, the common ‘cure’ for menstrual problems is either the prescribing of drugs (such as the Pill, which is increasingly harmful to female health as age increases, and prescription-strength NSAIDs, which are more harmful than their non-prescription forms described above) or the inducing of menopause, both of which are not cures but rather medical interference masquerading as treatment.

How is cannabis a feminist issue? For one, the denial of access to safe, effective treatment that lacks death as a side-effect for menstrual symptoms and conditions is absolutely a feminist issue – because yes, NSAIDs and the Pill, as well as the other pain-killers and interventions mentioned above, all contain the risk of death with use.

For another, women have too long suffered illogical, useless dictations concerning what they can put into and what they can do with their own bodies. The time for dictation is over. The time for freedom – and health and well-being – is now.

Unlike the substances that cannabis is classified with, such as cocaine and meth, producing marijuana does not produce environmental toxins (growing hydroponically in a basement with insufficient air flow may cause mold growth, but so will growing tomatoes). There is no part of the process of cannabis cultivation that will harm the neighbors or prove dangerous to the persons performing the cultivation. The only harm associated with cannabis is the harm inflicted by outdated, illogical laws about cannabis.

The current war on cannabis users incarcerates hundreds of thousands of individuals. Incarceration – even simply arrest – ends the life that was and inflicts a new, much worse existence. To cause such damage to individuals for growing or ingesting a harmless substance is not just inane, but vicious and cruel. The war on cannabis users is in fact a form of persecution. It is a persecution that unjustly subjugates and furthers the suffering of specific groups of persons – including and particularly the sub-set of women with uteruses.

Written by Sherrie Silman
Check out her blog, Solace Sylum, or follow her on Twitter!

  • Mothr Nght

    “Part of the problem is that for many centuries menstrual symptoms, including the intense, life-interrupting pain and symptoms of associated syndromes such as dysmenorrhea and endometriosis, weren’t of interest to the (predominately male) medical industry. Even now, the common ‘cure’ for menstrual problems is either the prescribing of drugs (such as the Pill, which is increasingly harmful to female health as age increases, and prescription-strength NSAIDs, which are more harmful than their non-prescription forms described above) or the inducing of menopause, both of which are not cures but rather medical interference masquerading as treatment.”

    Augh. Yes. This should be an article all on its own. I have endometriosis and am currently basically contemplating suicide because nothing is working and I keep having to drop courses so Student Loans are ready to cut me off unless I can get a doctor to say it’s a disability, and it apparently might not count as a disability (despite the fact similar diseases men can get do qualify) and my treatment options are basically hormones, hormones, more hormones, menopause or surgery. I didn’t even realize I had endometriosis until I was 23 because I used to be a chronic weed smoker which basically masked all my symptoms.

    TL;DR CANADA GIVE ME WEED FOR MY ENDOMETRIOSIS (or recognize it as a disability)

  • K.

    This was a great article. I always thought cannabis should be legal for another reason – it’d be great to tax so that we can start getting money for all the problems it causes in society. Whilst it isn’t a particularly noxious drug it does cause massive, irreparable psychological harm in about 5% of people who use it. This may not seem like a large number, but with all the people who use it, it adds up to quite a lot. I used to work in the prison system and now work in mental health. For all the drug addled, drug fucked people I see, most of them are in the ward because of weed. Drugs like speed and what not cause big problems for most people who use them, but not many people touch that stuff. Weed is everywhere, and some people barely have to touch it before they start experiencing massive problems.
    I am a supporter of legalisation (massive problems extend also to alcohol use, nicotine, sugar, transfats, motor vehicles, guns… and a host of other legal substances and items) but for taxation reasons.
    Also, side note. I’ve read study after study that shows that PMS is exclusively a first world problem and it seems to mostly be in our heads. Making me… lose sympathy for anyone who argues that they smoke weed to alleviate it.

    • Lt.Peach

      PMS may be mental thing, I’ve never suffered from it (my boyfriend may beg to differ), though I use to cry about getting my period because it’s gross, pads are uncomfortable and tampons are dangerous and can hurt. But the cramps are definitely real and can be debilitating for some women…In Canada, the majority of the population has smoked weed and a large percentage habitually or socially smokes weed but the numbers for people addicted to heavier are much smaller. To me, saying that weed automatically leads to worse drug addictions is like saying kissing leads to sexual addiction, of course any addict had to graduate from the lesser before they went to the extreme but most people aren’t going to take it to the extreme and the ones who do are doing so because of other underlying issues.

    • Sully

      I wouldn’t say PMS is all in our heads, since aside from the emotional aspects of it there are also cramps. Women all over the world may get cramps, but maybe not all of them feel that it is a major hardship in their lives (in comparison with other things they may be going through).

      • K.

        PMS is specific to emotional symptoms before your period – mood swings, anger, frustration etc etc. Cramps are a thing world over

    • Pris Blossom

      I would argue that those who you saw in the ward who happen to smoke cannabis are in there because they already had some kind of psychological issue to begin with, and not that the weed itself caused them to end up there. Perhaps they were self-medicating. Everyone reacts differently to substances of all kinds (some people who drink a beer feel fine and are barely affected, others get very friendly, others get angry, others can’t drink at all because they are allergic, etc.) It would be unfair to imply that cannabis causes the psychological problems you’ve seen in your experience in the mental ward, but more that in those who already have some sort of issue, it MAY exacerbate their symptoms/problems. And like the comment below states, cramps are a very real thing, and PMS is not exclusively a first world problem (at least, the people I’ve known from the “third world” have also experienced this. I’m only a first generation U.S. citizen myself). If you’re going to go into the differences between first and third world, many psychological issues have often been said to be mostly “first world” problems (or at least first world prominent) due to the fact that due to socioeconomic status in many third world countries does not allow you to a. concern yourself with such problems even if they are existing as you are likely more concerned trying to earn a living/secure food/shelter and b. are unable to obtain any kind of medical treatment for these things as that is an added cost you may likely be unable to afford.

  • Derek Jude Tallman

    Funny, weed has been around as long as we have, was only outlawed nationally (in America) in 1937, and wasn’t widely used until probably the 1960′s. Considering that the major force in the 1910′s Prohibition movement against drugs and alcohol were women. I’d say proto-feminism set the stage for the ridiculous drug environment we live in today. Seriously, alcohol prohibition, which gave organized crime the power it enjoys today (I’m including cartels, most started bootlegging booze) was almost 100% a “feminist” issue.

    Perhaps people should stop making every issue gender/race/orientation based and just say something is wrong because it is wrong (in this case, keeping pot illegal and maintaining the largest inmate population on the planet due to a stupid, ineffective “war on drugs”).

    Eh, forget about it.

  • Fluky Shorts

    Although I support the legalization of weed, the intrinsic idea that “It is my body I can do what I want with it” is flawed. Does that mean that heroin should be legalized as well? What about crack cocaine? We should be allowed to walk into Walmart and buy name brand crack or their cheaper, made right in the shop versions? This is ridiculously counterproductive to everyone. To make that argument about one drug, you must utilize it about everything. Though, in a sense, i do believe in a more libertarian approach to the country, regulation is not always a negative. Unfortunately, what Jill does to her body has direct effect to her children and immediate family. I fully support Marijuana being legalized, but this was a faulty article simply by basing it on said premise above.

  • Tlaxcalli

    I’m not sure how you wrote this article without mentioning the more obvious fact that alcohol leads to violence against women and rape, while marijuana reduces violence. That should be your #1 point.