A cautionary tale on marijuana?

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By Arlene Jones


The internet is more than social media. If used wisely, it is a learning tool that can expand one's knowledge. I chose the word wisely, because all information that can be found on the internet is not necessarily fact.

One of my favorite things to do is to research deceased famous singers and the stories behind their success. YouTube has proved to be a valuable resource. I have found numerous interviews placed there that these individuals had done in the past.

As I was writing this column, I thought about VH1's Behind the Music documentaries. Because I do not subscribe to cable, I've never seen the series. But I will check out to see what I can find that might be available over the internet.

Anyway, I've enjoyed documentaries on YouTube regarding Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and my current fixation, Bob Marley.

When music is profound, it survives the test of time. Although I'm familiar with the majority of Marvin Gaye's work, listening to him talk was different. Because his speaking voice was something I didn't recognize, it shows how a celebrity can resonate with you at one level but not at another. I can listen to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album over and over again because the words to his songs are as relevant today as they were when he first put out the album in 1971. 

What can I say about Teddy or Barry? I don't think there's a singer today that sings the kind of love songs they did. I was working on some of my endless projects and I needed inspiration to help me trudge through them. Although I am normally not a big music listener, I do have moments where music helps to get me through things. Both of these singers can uplift a woman's spirit with the lyrics they sing. 

I have always enjoyed reggae music and especially that from Bob Marley. His songs are either about love, protest or commentary on the world. As I was listening to a bunch of his songs, someone attributed the "Don't Worry Be Happy" song to him. Further checking of the internet proved that Bob Marley never sang that song. It was recorded by Bobby McFerrin. That's why sometimes with things found on the internet you have to search deeper.

I watched a number of videos about Marley's life and one thing struck me. He died in 1981 of cancer. According to the reports, in 1977, he was playing football (soccer) and injured his toe badly. He allegedly told the doctor that he had been having problems with that toe on and off. The toenail was removed, bandaged and the toe appear to heal. But the problem continued to occur. A subsequent diagnosis was given of skin cancer. Marley refused to have the toe amputated to stop the cancerous spread. Later he refused to have the foot amputated to again try and stop the spread. By the time he did decide to take some action, the cancer has spread throughout his entire body.

Marley was also known to have smoked a significant amount of marijuana (ganja) a day. Marley was a practicing Rastafarian, and smoking ganja was considered a religious sacrament. What I can't understand is that cannabis is now being touted as the "new medical miracle" solution to everything. Yet someone who used it continuously for years, in its most natural form ends up dying of cancer. I am perplexed and have continuously asked: How can that be?

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