Why Cannabis Legalization is a Feminist Issue
Sherrie Silman | 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:
- Unlike legalized recreational substances such as alcohol and tobacco, cannabis ingestion does not incur death
- Cannabis cultivation can be done in such as way as to not produce toxins
- Cannabis has extensive medical uses, including the treatment and alleviation of side-effects from mainstream cancer (and other severe illness) treatments
- Cannabis has extensive medical applications for women in particular
- 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.
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