The only madness that appears in this movie title, “Refer Madness,” 1936, is the promotion of such a ludicrous claim. Drugs having 10 times the strength and voracity go unchallenged: cocaine, alcohol, heroin and the numerous legal pharmaceuticals on the market that are opium-based, despite their addictive nature and destructive potential on the human body.

To further my argument, opiates killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting that marijuana actually killed no one.

Between 1999 and 2014, opioid overdoses quadrupled, according to CDC.  Plus, nearly 1.3 million Americans were hospitalized for opiate-related issues between 2005 and 2014, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

So, what is the big complaint with marijuana? Back in 1935, we find that the hemp plant was made illegal, mainly due to the lobbying efforts of the newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst, and the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, who stood to lose millions of dollars if the hemp plant remained legalized. Hemp, the third-largest crop in the U.S. in 1910, with its naturally strong fibers, was a popular choice for making paper, fabric and rope.

Since Hearst and his newspapers needed newsprint (wood pulp) to publish, he acquired large forest holdings in North America where they would use most of the softwood trees to make the pulp to make the newsprint.

Since that time, every softwood evergreen tree (cedar, hemlock and fir) in North America was now a marketable product. This was a major factor in the complete destruction of our once-beautiful evergreen forests dominating North America.

The lumber industry was not in a position to be replaced as the pulp industry was when hemp could be grown all over North America. The lumber industry only accounts for a small amount of forestry products.

Since 1935 and the banning of hemp products, we have relied heavily on deforestation at unsustainable levels when the hemp plant could have solved the problem of paper production with little drawback to quality.

Here and now, almost a century later, the same problem exists. The forest, pharmaceutical and alcohol lobbies still dominate control of marijuana. With many states voting for medical and recreational use of marijuana, it’s a good time to exert our freedom and liberty to provide our own forest of herbal remedies and replace the destructive effects of alcohol and opiates in all their forms.

Don Burgess