Mainstream vs. Alternative Media; who do we believe? The Journal of Media Studies Writer Discussion of the legalization of marijuanabrings up two main issues, those who are pro- marijuana and those who are anti- marijuana. These issues have beencovered by both mainstream and alternative media, mainstream being pro, and alternative being anti.
Thesetwo factions have been arguing over this issue in the halls of justice for many years. Because most of the Americansociety is mainly exposed to only mainstream media, they are not aware of other factors of legalizingmarijuana that alternative media covers. The problem caused by this lack of exposure, is that the public may be deprivedof 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 notbelieve that there are any convincing reasons to make marijuana a treatment to sick patients.
Their position is thatmarijuana 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 malesand females, and unhealthy and smaller children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy. TheDrug Enforcement Administration believes that since marijuana is not accepted by any American healthassociations, there is no reason to legalize the drug. They think that the main reason why pro marijuana advocates use themedical use argument is because the uninformed public can be easily convinced to support the movement. Simplynot enough evidence proves that marijuana can be used medically (Claim V).
Unlike the D. E. A. , lobbyinggroups such as the Cannabis Action Network and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, believe that marijuana is abeneficial herb, and not a harmful drug (ICLU). Alternative media sources, such as “Marijuana As Medicine,” state thatmarijuana 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 andcancer patients.
For victims with AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis, smoking marijuana is believed to helpreduce emesis, suppress vomiting, and stimulate the appetite. People with multiple sclerosis are convinced thatsmoking marijuana also reduces the intensity of their spasms. “Marijuana As Medicine,” a Cannabis ActionNetwork pamphlet, states that, “Two highly qualified and experienced ophthalmologists have accepted marijuana ashaving a medical use in treatment of glaucoma. ” When taken, parts of cannabis lower intraocular pressure in theeye. There are rumors that marijuana suppresses the immune system. “Marijuana Myths” dismisses this belief becausethe myth was based on studies where the experimental animals were given near-lethal-doses of cannabinoids, andthese results have never been repeated on humans.
In fact, two studies displayed that the immune system mayactually have been stimulated by the use of hashish and marijuana. On the other hand, a separate alternative sourcestated that marijuana (Delta-nine-THC) does possess an immunosuppressive effect. Marijuana shuts off somecells 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- marijuanagroups lead to believe that one of the reasons why the drug is not legalized is because it would take the profitaway from currently used drugs.
These groups suppose that since no one has ever died from marijuana use, it mustbe 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 activesubstances known to man” (Marijuana As Medicine). Marijuana and Crime Another issue considered by the massmedia 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 notcaused by dealers, but by those that are under the influence of the drug.
A study showed that among males (18-49years old) those who used cannabis were ten times more likely to commit violent acts than non-users. Anti marijuanagroups look to the example of gangs, after the repeal of Prohibition, gangster activity had not decreased. Experts are positive that legalizing marijuana would only add to the burden of criminal, health and social services. “There is no denying the fact that drug use changes behavior and exacerbates criminal activity” (Claim I). “Hempfor Food” claims that marijuana supporters believe that the only criminal activity caused by marijuana is donebecause of the illegal status of the drug, and not because of any influence that the drug may have on users.
They thinkthat legalization would eliminate black market activity. In Holland, marijuana is legal and so far, the Dutch crimerate has declined and not increased as one would anticipate (87). Supporters of the legalization of marijuana say thatthe United States government can profit from legalizing marijuana because they can tax the drug. A studydone by Vera Rubin, of the Coptic study, found no links of cannabis to criminal behavior.
She said that smokers andnon-smokers had identical extroversion scores and work records. There was no proof found that marijuana impairsmotor skills, so she believes that large doses of marijuana cut short one’s motivation to work (86). Marijuanaand Behavior Behavior is altered by using marijuana. The Medical Post states that “marijuana has always beendepicted as producing a lethargic, mellow, laid-back effect rather than acting as a stimulant. ” A study was done onyoung, male marijuana users to show any signs of stimulation.
These participants engaged in antisocial behavior. The doctors concluded that these drugs could possibly disturb social interactions. Anti- marijuana groups feel thatlegalizing drugs encouraged non-users that drugs are acceptable (Anti-Legalization Forum Claim III). “Hemp for Food,” an alternative source printed that subjects in a Jamaican study described marijuana as havingthe effect of making them smarter, more energetic, happy, and more conscious. They believe that the drug producedan overall sense of well-being and self-defense. The subjects used it as a work motivator (86).
Theimplication for legalization is that the drug has different effects on different groups of people, so we are not able to predictoutcomes for individuals (Now Research). Marijuana and the Brain Mainstream media believes that marijuanaproduces flat brainwaves. “Marijuana Myths” asserts that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ran an ad thattried to display this belief. A few years ago they made a commercial that first showed a normal brainwave, then theyshowed a second brainwave that supposedly belonged to a 14-year-old marijuana user.
It was a flatbrainwave that tried to show that the brainwaves or a drug user is the same as a comatose human being. ABC got the groupto admit to lying, yet they still ran the ad. “Marijuana Myths” wrote about a study that was done to show thatmarijuana causes damage to the brain. The study was thrown out because of its insufficient experiment. There weretoo many criticisms, particularly because the study was done on only four monkeys.
Real studies on humans donot show any damage to the brain. In actuality, smoking marijuana has the effect to increase alpha wave activity bya small amount. Alpha waves are related to relaxation, which can be associate with human productivity. Expertsare unsure if marijuana affects short-term memory, but they think that any effect disappears when the person is nolonger under the influence, similar to the immune system effect. According to “Hemp for Food,” a studydone in 1981 showed that the subjects tested actually believed that smoking potent marijuana 16 times a day hadimproved their minds over a time period of 10 years.
Their brains have been tested, and the results showed that therewas no difference between their brains and one of a non-smoker. There is also no proof of an increase in IQ bysmoking marijuana. Another study said that there was no impairment of physiological, sensory and perceptual-motorperformance, tests of concept information, abstracting ability or cognitive style and tests or memory. The studystates that heavy and prolonged use of ganja does not damage one socially or psychologically (86). Marijuanaand the Reproductive System There are many claims that say that marijuana causes damage to the reproductivesystem. The D.
E. A. states that smoking marijuana can make young children go through puberty much later thannormal children. They also state that the drug can cause difficulties in babies born to mothers who smoked duringpregnancy. From this source, Peter Fried, Ph.
D. , found that “Marijuana use during pregnancy has harmfuleffects on children’s intellectual abilities a decade or more after they are born. ” The harm done by drugs is real andlong-lasting. Dr. Drew from the TV program Loveline, had said that marijuana can cause birth defects if either the male orfemale used it, even if it was used four months prior to conception. He also believes that smoking marijuana canlower one’s sex drive, and that it does not help if the man has an impotency problem.
Marijuana use may lower thesperm count in males, but not to the point to be used as birth control. “Marijuana Myths” responds to the belief thatmarijuana causes developmental problems in children, by claiming that it was a false rumor created by antimarijuana groups in order to steer people away from drug use. They state the studies done on this subject to befaulty or misread. However, they do admit that there may be some effects to childhood development, but they say thatthey are not drastic and are rare. They say that marijuana does not make men impotent or sterile and that forsome, it enhances their sex lives. Feelings and emotions become more colorful to them.
Bill Drake, author of”Marijuana: An Herb for the Aging,” states that marijuana may actually arouse an interest in sexuality in the elderly. Jamaican studies, from “Hemp for Food,” have displayed that mothers who use marijuana believe that theirchildren are healthier. The experiment that was done that claimed that marijuana is harmful to the reproductive systemwas rejected by the scientific community because the controlled animals were given near-lethal doses. Onceoff of the drug, the animals returned to normal.
When done on actual human beings, experiments have not showndamage to the reproductive system. Not all mainstream claims are false, and not all alternative claims are true, butpeople would rather get their news from the television than from a piece of paper that they found in their mailbox. Themajority of the population gets its information from mainstream media sources because they believe that it is morecredible than alternative media sources. Evidence shows how the public is provided with contradictory facts, soone can see that it can be a difficult in choosing the which source to believe.
The news has to make stories short, dueto limited time, but alternative media sources have plenty of time to gather hidden or unbroadcastedinformation. In contrast to TV news, documentaries done on this topic are able to spend unlimited hours researchingsince they rarely have deadlines. People should be presented with facts only if they are in complete detail andhave been thoroughly investigated. Alternative media seem to have this ability, yet are sometimes doubted fortheir information because people usually believe things that are said on either TV, radio, or other sources ofmainstream media.
There is not much that can be done to fix this problem. Alternative media groups are constrained in themedium of their production. They have small budgets and are unable to spend the same amount of moneythat mainstream media sources spend. Since they don’t have expensive equipment to work with, they are forcedto make the best out of what they have. Because their projects may appear unprofessional, people assume thatwhat they have to say cannot be trusted.
What people can do is try to educate others of this issue and attempt toget people to change their attitudes toward alternative media. What might be effective is if these alternativegroups put their effort into creating a video or display that exhibited why alternative media is restricted, and whypeople should start looking at their claims from a different perspective. People would be better off if they are faced withboth sides and come to a reasonable conclusion derived from both sources. Since the topic being discussed is onthe legalization of marijuana, we need to use this information in creating a solution for this dilemma.
Because marijuanais illegal, there are few mainstream groups that will go against the law and promote the legalization process. Perhaps groups like C. A. N.
can create a video or anything as effective to reach out to the public and make them awareof what they are missing out on. The pamphlets that are already being distributed by these groups are a small step,yet people are still hesitant in believing any information printed on them. However, people might change theirminds if the information written on these pamphlets informed them of reasons to credit them. Alternative mediagroups are getting this idea across slowly. It is only a matter of time until people start taking their claims into account.
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Loveline. Prod. David Sittenfeld. With Dr. Drew, Adam Carolla, and Kris McGaha. MTV.
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