The Pleasures of Pesticides (1/13/14)
Common Uses of Marijuana and Tobacco
New years bring new adventures. Across the US, people camped out, filed into buses and trains, and drove thousands of miles to witness – Legal Pot. Marijuana cigarettes were lit celebrating the “new history” of America, where the failed Drug War would be put to rest.
It just shows how powerful pesticides can be – especially in the right dose.
The Original Drug War
Marijuana and tobacco have more in common than being smoked separately or combined. They have multiple uses throughout the natural world.
Including as pesticides.
People sort of know that nicotine is a pesticide. Nicotine is toxic to most animals as well as innumerable “lower” forms of life.
Chemical cannibinoids, like those produced by the marijuana plant, are very good at killing bacteria, fungi, and worms. Insects don’t seem to like them very much, either.
The reality is the real “drug war” started at least tens of millions of years ago. It was a war of plant against plant, plant against animal, animal against animal. The goal was to stop anything that wanted to eat you. Marijuana kept many an invader away. Nicotine was singularly successful in killing natural foes.
Which is why it’s still used.
Colony Collapse Disorder has stunned and scared people round the world. The bees are dying. No is sure why.
Yet many researchers have pointed to pesticides as one of the presumed culprits. The main malfactor is neonicotinoids, water soluble pesticide assassins that are sprayed on seeds and then move to reside everywhere in the plant.
Bees who eat those plants become foolish and crazy. They can’t find their way back to the hive. They can’t find food. They may be ingesting nicotine instead of marijuana, but they’re still “stoned.”
The evidence has been sufficient for the European Food Safety Administration, roughly the equivalent of our FDA, to ban several neonicotinoids. Not without dissension, however. The British thought the ban too wide, wishing to a nation of gardeners allowance to use it in their homes.
However, the EU is becoming considerably more alarmed about neonicotinoids. More recent studies have implicated two of the more commonly used pesticides, imidacloprid and acetamiprid, as stopping normal nerve and brain developments in rodents – the standard toxicological stand-ins for humans. The EFSA wants levels of neonicotinoids to be lowered further.
That has not happened in the US where neonicotinoids remain legal. Many fruit and nut growers are incensed. They believe these pesticide-drugs are destroying the bee population. Without pollinators there are no crops. Estimates are as high as 40% of the American food supply is potentially at risk.
For this is a country where regulation remains unpopular – unless, as with marijuana, the alternative is a jail term.
The Power of Pesticides
Drugs like nicotine produce intense pleasure. They also create addiction and fatal overdoses. How can such simple chemicals do so much?
Because they are powerful information molecules.
Cannabinoids, including the active ingredient in smoked and ingested marijuana, exist naturally in your brain. In fact, they exist all over your brain, with innumerable connections to pretty much any region you choose to study.
Their chemical capacities vary from muscle relaxation to decreased anxiety to immune modulation. Rather alike in their way to what nicotine can do.
Nicotine itself blocks acetylcholine receptors. You use acetylcholine every time you move a muscle. Acetylcholine changes the speed and activity of your heart. Block it with nicotine, and the heart speeds, giving us the beginning of something we call excitement.
And what others describe as anxiety.
Marijuana – through cannabinoids – and tobacco – via nicotine – are powerful drugs that can pleasure or kill us. Because they work in so many places, particularly the brain, their effects redound on pretty much all human behavior.
Plus the dose, timing, and circumstances all change their effects on us.
Recognizing that tobacco is both a pesticide and a potent discharger of radioactivity (tobacco plants concentrate polonium 210) sometimes helps people stop smoking. Knowing that marijuana can work as a pesticide may prevent some from imbibing.
But the magic of these molecules directly results from the natural way of earthly things. We are all systems of information. We are all remade by the chemicals we ingest, whether we think of them as food or drugs or toxins. We allow these chemicals to manipulate us. They can cause terror or excitement, pleasure or death.
They work because they remake us – and because we must constantly be remade to live. Information molecules change the way our own biology and identity is renewed and regenerated.
Pesticide or pleasure? One man’s meat is another man’s pleasure.
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