In Germany, there is a current debate taking place about legalizing marijuana. Most people (except consumers) would immediately agree with the statement that drugs are bad and dangerous, and that they have to be forbidden. But there is a gray area, even when it comes to drugs. Smoking marijuana is not always seen as consuming "a real drug" -- not even by the government.
While there are political campaigns spending millions of dollars warning of the dangers of cigarettes and alcohol, there are no campaigns against marijuana.The Netherlands even want to make marijuana a world cultural heritage icon. This movement is led by the consumer organization “We smoke” and has its origin on the government’s latest ban on coffee shops (where you can smoke pot and eat marijuana muffins) for foreigners. But why is marijuana not seen like other drugs? Why is it more socially accepted?
First, marijuana has no heavy adverse reactions like depression, panic attacks or hallucinations. Marijuana consists of natural herbs and contains no chemical substances which could mess with your brain and cause serious and permanent damage to your physical and psychical health.
Another advantage is that marijuana consumers don’t get addicted so easily. Marijuana is seen as a peaceful drug. You don’t get aggressive, it only makes you very relaxed. But what you have to consider is that while smoking pot is mostly harmless, marijuana can be the gateway to trying heavier drugs.
Historical reasons also play a role in building a broader acceptance of pot in society. Almost as long as humans have existed, there have been cultures which chew on certain herbs with hallucinating or intoxicant effects -- like coca leaves. The Indians, the folks in South America and many more worshipped those calming, pain easing plants. And there were as well cultural movements like Woodstock (where smoking pot was cool, unadjusted and rebellious) which have helped shaping the image of marijuana. Back then, smoking marijuana was a kind of statement of resistance and disapproval of the status quo.
Above all, marijuana is used for medical purposes like epilepsy, asthma or sickness, and therefore almost officially confirmed not to be dangerous. And so, can it be really dangerous if even doctors are using it to heal people? This would even affirm the positive effects of pot. But, as it is with many things, it’s the dose that counts. A small amount of a poison can heal your sickness but it kills you when you take more than that. And if you smoke too much pot, you are unable to drive a car or work properly. And pot changes your consciousness, whereas cigarettes and alcohol don’t. But still, the medical application of marijuana is an argument that is used in favor of legalizing drugs.
You can see that smoking marijuana has a gray area, that is mostly ignored by the government. Out of historical, cultural and psychological reasons, it is not seen as a real drug and therefore the laws are not handed very strictly as well (at least in Germany). It seems like society grew used to marijuana and don’t see it as a real drug, because the governmentdonesn't treat it as such. You can smell marijuana almost everywhere you go: on parties, festivals, parks in the middle of the summer etc. Consumers of marijuana rarely have to fear sanctions in Germany, at least if they don’t grow or trade it. Because an illogical law about marijuana says that you’re allowed to consume marijuana but not to possess it. People just don’t take this law very seriously.