Sonoma State professor talks cannabis myths

Nicole Wolfe, a sociology professor here at Sonoma State University, delivered a talk in the  “Cannabis and the Law” lecture on Friday, where the goal was to dive into the history of cannabis in the United States along with addressing common misconceptions that go along with marijuana and its uses.

Professor Wolfe brought an extensive PowerPoint presentation to Sonoma State’s Cooperage that detailed the origins of the hemp plant and its entry into the mainstream life of America and its households. 

The audience was also provided with a long list of facts, uses, laws and information regarding marijuana and other drugs. 

One of the biggest points made during the presentation were the misconceptions that come with the use of cannabis. That, along with calling cannabis “marijuana,” were efforts to try to scare parents to steer them and their kids away from the drug during the American Prohibition. 

“The biggest misconception, in my eyes, is that the use of marijuana is considered dangerous or harmful to users because it is a ‘gateway drug’ and that it makes people go to harder drugs,” Wolfe said. “This is a complete farce and cannot be further from the truth.” 

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Wolfe detailed the benefits of marijuana use, including that it can be used as a sleep aid, a muscle stabilizer and an antidepressant, plus it has no side effects and has a good pharmaceutical upside.  

Junior Victoria Spadaro attended the talk and spoke very highly of Professor Wolfe’s presentation. 

“Her talk on ‘Cannabis and the Law’ was exceptionally eye-opening,” Spadaro said. “What stood out to me specifically were the statistics presented on law enforcement, where it detailed arrests, charges, and sentences for drug-related crimes.”

The statistics Spadaro is referring to include the fact that half of the people incarcerated in America are in for drug charges. More of the astounding facts included said there are more people arrested for marijuana per year than the total of violent crimes combined.

According to the lecture, every 25 seconds in America, the police arrest someone for drug possession.

There are more people behind bars for drugs today than there were incarcerated criminals in the year 1980. 

The incarceration, prosecution and enforcement of the 700,000 people who police arrest for marijuana offenses each year cost American taxpayers about $7 billion. 

“The criminalization of cannabis has gotten out of hand,” Wolfe said. “This criminalization and framing of  drug related ‘illegal activity’ disproportionately impacts African-American young males, which is a big social justice issue.”