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Is Legalization The Answer? Essay, Research Paper

For many years, the United States government has outlawed drugs such as marijuana from sale in the marketplace. Yet, with prohibition, marijuana use has decreased only minimally. It appears as though the media has publicized only the bad aspects of marijuana use. What many people do not realize are the many positive aspects of marijuana legalization, including new medical cures, cleaner and more efficient industry and Marijuana, as most people commonly know it, is really a plant called hemp, or ‘cannabis sativa’. There are other plants called hemp, but cannabis hemp is the most useful of these plants. Hemp is any durable plant used since prehistory for many purposes. Cannabis is the most durable of the hemp plants, and it produces the toughest cloth, named ‘canvass’. The cannabis plant also produces three other very important products that other plants do not (in usable form): seed, pulp, and medicine. To understand why hemp is illegal,it is necessary that we take a look at the law prohibiting hemp today. The law thatprohibits hemp is called the “Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970″. TheComprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-513) overhauled the nation’s drug regulation apparatus. Title II of the law, known as the Controlled Substances Act,established criteria for determining which drugs should be controlled, mechanisms forreducing the availability of controlled drugs, and a structure of penalties for illegal distribution and possession of controlled drugs. Marijuana, hashish, and THC are listed in Schedule I, the most restrictive classification. We also have to understand the reasons why marijuana, the drug, became illegal. In fact, it helps to go back to the beginning of the century and talk about two other drugs, opium (the grandfather of heroin) and cocaine. Opium, a very addictive drug (but relatively harmless by today’s standards) was once widely used by the Chinese. When Chinese started to immigrate to the United States, they brought opium with them. Chinese workers used opium to induce a trance-like state that helped make boring, repetitive tasks more interesting. It also numbed the mind to pain and exhaustion. By using opium, the Chinese could pull very long hours in the sweat shops of the Industrial Revolution. During this time, there was no such thing as fair wages, and the only way a worker could make a living was to produce as much as humanly possible. Since they were such good workers, the Chinese held many jobs in the highly competitive industrial workplace. Even before the Great Depression, when millions of jobs disappeared overnight, the White Americans began to resent this, and Chinese became hated among the White working class. Even more than today, White Americans had a very big political advantage over the Chinese-they spoke English and had relatives in the government, so coming up with a plan to force Chinese immigrants to leave the country was easy for them (or at least keep them from inviting all their relatives to come and live in America.) This plan depended on stirring up racist feelings, and one of the easiest things to focus these feelings on was the foreignand mysterious practice of using opium. We can see this pattern again with cocaine, exceptBlack Americans were the targets. Cocaine was not especially useful in the workplace, butthe strategy against Chinese immigrants (picking on their drug of choice) had been sosuccessful that it was used again. For Blacks, though, the racist feelings ran deeper, andthe main thrust of the propaganda campaign was to control the Black community and keepBlacks from becoming successful. Articles appeared in newspapers which blamed cocaine forviolent crime by Blacks. They painted Black Americans as savage, uncontrollable beasts whenunder the influence of cocaine-they said that it made a single Black man as strong as fouror five police officers. By capitalizing on racist sentiments, a powerful political o couldsell alcohol where. Organized crime became an American institution, and hard liquor, whichwas easy to smuggle, took the place of beer and wine. In order to combat the crime wave,the government formed a large police force. The number of police grew rapidly until the endof Prohibition, when the government decided that the best way to deal with the situation wasjust to give up and allow people to use alcohol legally. Under Prohibition the Americangovernment had essentially (and unwittingly) provided the military backup for the takeoverof the alcohol business by armed thugs. Even today, the Mob still controls liquor sales inmany areas. After Prohibition the United States was left with nothing to show but a decadeof political turmoil-and many unemployed police officers. During Prohibition, being apolice officer was a very good thing. They got a relatively decent salary, respect, partialimmunity to the law, and the opportunity to take bribes. Many of these officers were notready to let this lifestyle slip away. Incidentally, it was about this time when the FederalBureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was reformed, and a man named Harry J. Anslinger wasappointed as its head. Anslinger campaigned tirelessly for funding in order to hire a largeforce of narcotics officers. (After retiring, Anslinger once mused that the FBNDD was aplace where young men were given a license to steal and rape.) The FBNDD is the organizationthat preceded what we now call the DEA, and was responsible for enforcing the new Federaldrug laws against heroin, opium, and cocaine. One of Anslinger’s biggest concerns as headof the FBNDD was getting uniform drug laws passed in all States and the Federal legislature. (Anslinger also had a personal dislike of jazz music and the Black musicians who made it. He hated them so much that he actually spent years tracking each of them and often dreamedof arresting them all in one huge, cross-country sweep.) Anslinger frequented parents’ andteacher’s meetings, giving scary speeches about the dangers of marijuana. This period oftime became known as Reefer Madness. (The name comes from the title of a movie produced bya public health group.) Today, it is indisputable that the status-quo has failed. Increasedspending for the enforcement of narcotics laws have not produced any significantimprovements. With drug related deaths increasing in the inner cities, and usage again onthe rebound, we all can see that a change in our system is necessary. Below is a chartrepresenting increased marijuana usage among people in the key ages of 19-28. Percentage ofPersons Reporting any Illicit Marijuana Use: Age 19-281986198719881989199019911992199366.5%66.0%63.8%62.8%60.2%58.6%60.2%62.2%Source: The University of Michigan 1991 annual study titled “Monitoring the Future,”conducted under a series of research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to theU-M Institute for Social Research. As I have stated before, propaganda was very wellproduced and distributed during “Reefer Madness”. Sadly, much of the health related dataincluded in the propaganda is untrue, or overstated. The falsehoods have been numerous. Oneof the first deviations from the truth involves the supposed lowering of testosteroneamounts in men who smoke marijuana. There has yet to be any strong evidence that wouldprove this point. They manufactured this lie during the first “Reefer Madness”, in order toscare men into thinking that they would lose their manly characteristics after using thedrug. Another misinterpretation of a study involves propaganda stating that prolongedmarijuana usage makes men sterile. In fact, “marijuana use shows no conclusive evidence ofreducing the sperm counts in males age 18-39, where sperm production is usually a constantbetween individuals” (U.S. Government). Another misunderstanding promoted by anti-drugliterature is the idea that marijuana kills brain cells. This is far from the truth. Astudy attempted to show that marijuana smoking damaged brain structures in monkeys. However, the study was poorly performed and a medical review board severely criticized it. Studies done afterwards failed to show any brain damage. In fact, a very recent study onRhesus monkeys used technology so sensitive that scientists could actually see the effect oflearning on brain cells. No damage was found. Another popular myth often told byprohibitionists is that marijuana smoke causes cancer. There has yet to be a study thatconclusively points to this. Scientists do not really know what it is that causes malignantlung cancer in tobacco. Many think it may be a substance known as Lead 210. Of course,there are many other theories as to what does cause cancer, but if this is true, it is easyto see why no case of lung cancer resulting from marijuana use alone has ever beendocumented, because tobacco contains much more of this substance than marijuana. Anti-drugliterature also promotes the misconception that marijuana smoking causes laziness. If youare a responsible adult, it does not. The U.S. Army did a study on this, and the resultsshowed no effect. Many Eastern cultures, and Jamaicans, use marijuana to help them workharder. `Amotivational syndrome’ started as a media myth based on the racial stereotype ofa lazy Mexican borracho. The prohibitionists claimed that marijuana made people worthlessand sluggish. Since then, however, it has been scientifically researched, and a symptomresembling amotivational syndrome has actually been found. However, it only occurs inadolescent teenagers-adults are not affected. Yet another misunderstood and misused factabout marijuana is how it contains over 400 chemicals. What many people do not understandis that the amount of chemicals in a substance is totally irrelevant to the products effect. Products such as coffee and tea contain 829 and 611 chemicals, respectively. These twosubstances do not affect ones health, yet contain many chemicals. The fact that there areover sixty unique chemicals in cannabis, called `cannabinoids,’ is something that scientistsfind very interesting. Many of these cannabinoids may have valuable effects as medicine.Also misunderstood is the fact that certain chemicals in marijuana stay in your fat cellsfor up to a month. The part of marijuana that gets one high is called`Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.’ Your body will change Delta-9-THC into more inert moleculesknown as `metabolites,’ which don’t get people high. Unfortunately, these chemicals alsohave the word `tetrahydrocannabinol’ in them and they are also called THC-so many peoplethink that the metabolites get people high. Anti-drug pamphlets say that THC gets stored inyour fat cells and then leaks out later. They say it can keep people high all day or evenlonger. This is not true, marijuana only keeps people high for a few hours. These are thechemicals that stay in your fatty cells. There is almost no Delta-9-THC left over a fewhours after smoking marijuana, and scientific studies which measure the effects of marijuanaagree with this fact. What many people have yet to hear are the many medical benefits ofsmoking marijuana. Marijuana is better than regular prescription medications for manyreasons. First, companies sell prescription drugs at high cost, partially because they arehard to make. Commonly, they do not work as well, either. Some prescription drugs whichmarijuana can replace have very bad, even downright dangerous, side-effects. Cannabismedicines are cheap, safe, and easy to make. Marijuana has thousands of possible uses inmedicine. Marijuana (actually cannabis extract) was available as a medicine legally in thiscountry until 1937, and was sold as a nerve tonic-but humankind has been using cannabismedicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in almost every known book of medicinewritten by ancient scholars and wise men. It is usually ranked among the top medicines,called `panaceas’, a word that means `cure-all’. Many people think that the drug dronabinolshould be used instead of marijuana. Dronabinol is an exact imitation of a chemical foundin marijuana. There are many problems with Dronabinol, however. The first problem withDronabinol is that it is even harder to get than marijuana. Many doctors do not like toprescribe dronabinol, and many drug stores do not want to supply it, because a lot ofpaperwork has to be filed with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Secondly, dronabinolcomes in pills that are virtually useless to anyone who is vomiting. Also, taking just theright amount of dronabinol is difficult since it cannot be smoked. Finally, becausedronabinol is only one of the many chemicals in cannabis, it just does not work for somediseases. Many patients do not like the effects of dronabinol because it does not containsome of the more calming chemicals which are present in marijuana. Marijuana has shown to bevery beneficial in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is one ofthe most important cancer treatments developed in the past several decades. It involves theintravenous administration of medication that kills cancer. In attacking cancer cells, theyalso kill healthy body cells, producing extremely unpleasant and dangerous side effects.They can cause bleeding, bruising, tissue rot, muscle rot in the heart, hair loss, andsometimes a new form of cancer. Still, the most common, and for many patients the mosttroublesome, side effect of these drugs is profound nausea and vomiting. Patients may breakbones or rupture the esophagus while vomiting. This can be emotionally devastating. As theyloose weight and strength, they find it ever more difficult to sustain the will to live. Theside effects are so bad, patients often stop treatment altogether. Marijuana, taken withthese ordinarily painful medications, suppresses, even eliminates, the side effects. Thisallows the patients to sustain the treatment, and helps them physically to expedite thehealing process. Marijuana also has shown to be beneficial in patients suffering from theeye condition known as glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disorder that results from an imbalance ofeye pressure, leading to blurred vision. If the eye produces too much of the internal fluidthat keeps eye pressure, or if the channels to which the fluid flows are blocked, theincreasing pressure may damage the optic nerve, which carries impulses to the brain. Thiswould cause blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of Blindness in the U.S. Althoughpresent treatments work, they commonly cause side effects including depression, asthma, slowheart rate, heart failure, hypertension, heart disease, blurred vision, and cataracts. In anexperiment to see the effects of Marijuana on the eyes, it was discovered that marijuanareduces in ocular pressure. In a study, “(the participants) eyes were photographed as theysmoked, and the pupils were found to be slightly constricted . . . An opthamologicalexamination showed that cannabis also reduced tearing. . . Further experiments indicated asimilar effect in patients with glaucoma. . . for an average of four to five hours, with “noindications of any delirious effects. . . on visual function or ocular structure”(Grinspoon). Another instance where marijuana has been beneficial is in patients who suffer

from epilepsy, a condition where certain brain cells (the epileptic focus) become abnormallyexcitable and spontaneously discharge in an uncontrolled way. This spontaneous dischargecauses a seizure. Doctors treat epilepsy primarily with anticonvulsant drugs, but they helponly 75 percent of the time. Furthermore, these drugs have terrible side effectsencompassing bone softening, reduced production of red blood cells, swelling of the gums,and emotional disturbances. Overdoses my cause rapid uncontrollable eye movements, loss ofmotor coordination, coma, and even death. Studies have shown that treatment with cannabis isextremely successful. Here is a case of a 24-year-old man, a sufferer of epilepsy: “With thephenytoin (prescription medication), I had about one seizure a week. After smoking two tofive joints per night, along with the original medication, the attacks no longer occurred. Even better, side effects exhibited by the prescription medication alone no longer occurred. It was a miracle.” (Grinspoon) Marijuana has been shown to be especially effective forsufferers of multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disorder in which patches ofmyelin (the protective covering of nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord are destroyedand the normal functioning of the nerve fibers themselves is interrupted. There is no knowncure yet for MS. Corticosteroids provide some relief, but also produce weight gain andmental disturbances. Drugs that treat muscle spasms can cause drowsiness, dizziness,weakness, confusion, liver failure, diarrhea, speech and verbal disturbances, seizures,headaches, impotence, erotic blood pressure, depression, feelings of suffocation, andconfusion. Greg Paufler was a suffering MS patient for many years. His doctor told him totake ACTH, a drug to retard the destruction of MS. After six weeks, he gained 130 pounds,found it hard to breathe, and was continuously drowsy. One evening, his friend brought oversome marijuana. He smoked it, and Greg’s symptoms disappeared. He contributed this first tothe mild high. His spasms became less severe. He thought that was caused by the ACTH. However, he continued to deteriorate. He soon lost his ability to speak, and see. He couldnot move at all. Doctors gave him megadoses of medications, but nothing helped. He wasseverely disenchanted with the medicine. One night he smoked a few joints with his friends.This same night he was able to walk, if for only a few steps. His doctor was unbelieving ofthe effects of marijuana. To prove that it was the marijuana, he stopped smoking for aweek. His condition then began to deteriorate again. The marijuana really was beneficial.When he smoked, he could walk unaided, and see clearly. To prove the skeptics, he stoppedsmoking again for six months. He became blind, and lost control of his arms, legs, hands,and feet. He was now addicted to Valium and became depressed. He started smoking again.Within three weeks, he started to improve. After six months, he could read, write, walk, andcould teach his children how to play soccer. He could kick the ball. He was reborn. On ascale of 100, his doctor rates his present health at ninety-five. The medical benefits ofmarijuana have also been witnessed in patients suffering from paraplegia and quadriplegia.Paraplegia is weakness or paralysis of muscles in the lower body caused by disease or injuryin the middle or lower part of the spinal cord. If the injury is near the neck, the arms aswell as the legs are affected and quadriplegia develops. Pain and muscle spasms oftenaccompany both. Sufferers have noticed that cannabis not only relieves their pain moresafely than opoids, but it also suppresses their muscle jerks and tremors. AIDS sufferershave also attested to the benefits of smoking marijuana. Doctors can treat AIDS withmedications such as AZT. Unfortunately, AZT suppresses the production of the red blood cellsby the bone marrow, decreases the amount of white blood cells, and has many damaging effectson the immune system. It also sometimes causes severe nausea that heightens the danger ofsemi-starvation for patients who are already suffering from nausea. AIDS patients who smokemarijuana have noticed reduced pain, and the elimination of vomiting and headaches. Patientswho have stopped taking AZT and instead used marijuana alone have often found that they feelfree of the virus. These results have been obtainable through the smoking of 2-3 joints perday. Marijuana smokers who suffer from chronic pain have likewise seen the benefits. Chronicpain is usually treated with opiod narcotics and various synthetic analgesics, but thesedrugs have many limitations. Opiods are addictive, and tolerance eventually develops;nonaddictive analgesics are not powerful enough. THC has been shown to relieve pain forseveral hours at doses as small as 5mg, and even longer at 20mg. THC also proved to be asedative. It had fewer physical side effects than other commonly used analgesics. Sufferersof the migraine have furthermore seen how marijuana can reduce severe pain. Migraine, asevere headache that lasts from hours to days, results from dilated blood vessels in thebrain. Visual disturbances and vomiting often accompany it. Marijuana has been shownextremely effective in preventing migraines. In contrast to ineffective analgesics,marijuana smokers do not exhibit side effects. “THC has been shown to inhibit the release ofserotonin from the blood of migraine suffers during an attack.” (Grinspoon). This releaseof serotonin relieves the migraine, and can also prevent further attacks. Pruritis sufferershave testified to the substantial benefits of smoking marijuana. Pruritis is severe itchingand inflamed skin. Steroids are only partially effective, and produce serious side effectswith long term use. People who suffer from this condition have noticed that upon smokingmarijuana for a few day s, their skin problems are cured. Just like the vast majority ofmarijuana smokers, they show no side effects. For chronic depression and other severe mooddisorders, marijuana has proven to be an ‘upper’. Other drugs for these conditions can causedry mouth, blurred vision, weight loss/gain, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, and reducedblood flow to the brain. Marijuana does not cause these symptoms. For people who cannot uselegal drugs, Marijuana has been the cure they have needed. For asthma, marijuana serves as apowerful bronchialdialator with little or no side effects, compared to traditional asthmacures that can cause sleeplessness, jitteriness, nausea, bone loss, seizures, and bleeding.THC even helped non suffers breathe easier and clearer. In asthma patients, THC reversedbronchia constriction. For suffers of insomnia, cannabis is a great help. Cannabis has along history as being a sleep inducing drug. New evidence shows that cannabidiol is thechemical that causes this. One controlled study of fifteen insomniacs found that over a fiveweek period “sleep quality was significantly influenced by 160mg of cannabidiol as twothirds of the subjects slept more than seven hours . . . most subjects had fewinterruptions of sleep and have reported having a good nights sleep.” (Grinspoon).Marijuana has also been shown to have a positive effect on nausea sufferers. In the past,abortion was often necessary to save the woman’s life if she suffered form hyperemesisgravidarum – a greatly heightened form of morning sickness in which the sufferer is neverfree of nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Nowadays, the women are placed inhospitals and fed through an IV. Some have now discovered that they can do without the IV bysmoking marijuana, proven to suppress vomiting and nausea symptoms. The relief given bymarijuana can be beneficial to sufferers of many diseases. Without nausea, patients who gettheir nutrition intravenously can now get their food naturally. This enables patients torebuild their strength, and it helps the body precipitate the healing process. Sufferers ofdystonia can also attest to benefits derived from smoking marijuana. In 1981, it wasreported that patients with idiopathic dystonia improved when they smoked marijuana. This isa group of disorders characterized by abnormal movements and postures resulting fromprolonged spasms or muscle contractions. Animal studies confirmed that cannabinoids mighthave antidysotonic properties, and scientists undertook another human experiment in 1986that showed the same results. The hemp plant shows its unique versatility by having manyuses in industry. Hemp has many distinct benefits over its counterparts in industry today. Hemp usage would result in a cleaner and more efficient industry. One use of hemp inindustry is as a fiber. The process of converting hemp into a fiber is quite simple, and iseasy to do. The stalk of the hemp plant has two parts, called the bast and the hurd. Workers can weave the fiber (bast) of the hemp plant into almost any kind of cloth. It isvery durable. In fact, the first Levi’s blue jeans were made out of hemp for just thisreason. Compared with all the other natural fibers available, hemp is more suitable for alarge number of applications. It is easy to harvest hemp for fiber. A field of closelyspaced hemp is allowed to grow until the leaves fall off. They then cut down the hemp and itlies in the field for some time washed by the rain. They turn it over once to expose bothsides of the stalk evenly. During this time, the hurd softens up and it returns manyminerals to the soil. They call this process `retting,’ and after this step is complete,they bring the stalks to a machine that separates the bast and the hurd. They can thenweave the bast. The cloth that hemp makes may be a little less soft than cotton, (thoughthere are also special kinds of hemp, or ways to grow or treat hemp, that can produce a softcloth) but it is much stronger and longer lasting. Hemp requires little fertilizer, andgrows well almost everywhere. It also resists pests, so it uses little pesticides. Hempputs down deep roots, which is good for the soil. When the leaves drop off the hemp plant,it returns minerals and nitrogen to the soil. Hemp has been grown on the same soil fortwenty years in a row without any noticeable depletion of the soil. Using less fertilizerand agricultural chemicals is good for two reasons. First, it costs less and requires lesseffort. Second, many agricultural chemicals are dangerous and can contaminate theenvironment-the less we have to use, the better. Another industrial use for hemp is invictuals. Hemp seed is a highly nutritious source of protein and essential fatty oils. Many populations have grown hemp for its seed. Most of them eat it as `gruel’, a foodsimilar to oatmeal. The leaves can be used as roughage, but not without slightpsycho-active side-effects. Hemp seeds do not contain any marijuana, so they do not get you’high’. Hemp seed protein closely resembles protein as it is found in the human blood. Itis easy to digest-many patients who have trouble digesting food are given hemp seed by theirdoctors. Hemp seed was once called `edestine’ and was used by scientists as the model forvegetable protein. Hemp seed oil provides the human body with essential fatty acids. Hempseed is the only seed that contains these oils with almost no saturated fat. As asupplement to the diet, these oils can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is because ofthese oils that birds will live much longer if they eat hemp seed. With hemp seed, a veganor vegetarian can survive and eat virtually no saturated fats. One handful of hemp seed perday will supply adequate protein and essential oils for an adult. Hemp has been used to`bail out’ many populations in time of famine. Because of various political factors,starving people in today’s underdeveloped countries are not taking advantage of this crop. In some places, this is because government officials would call it `marijuana’ and pull upthe crop. In other countries, it is because the farmers are busy growing coca and poppiesto produce cocaine and heroin for the local Drug Lord. Yet another industrial use of hemp isin the manufacturing of paper. Both the fiber (bast) and pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant canbe used to make paper. Fiber paper was the first kind of paper, and the first batch wasmade out of hemp in ancient China. Fiber paper is thin, tough, brittle, and a bit rough. Pulp paper is not as strong as fiber paper, but it is easier to make, softer, thicker, andpreferable for most everyday purposes. The paper we use most today is a `chemical pulp’paper made from trees. Hemp pulp paper can be made without chemicals from the hemp hurd. Most hemp paper made today uses the entire hemp stalk, bast and hurd. High-strength fiberpaper can be made from the hemp baste, also without chemicals. The problem with today’spaper is that so many chemicals are used to make it. High strength acids are needed to makequality (smooth, strong, and white) paper out of trees. These acids produce chemicals thatare very dangerous to the environment. Paper companies do their best to clean thesechemicals up. Hemp offers us an opportunity to make affordable and environmentally safepaper for all of our needs, since it does not need much chemical treatment. Because of thechemicals in today’s paper, it will turn yellow and fall apart as acids eat away at thepulp. This takes several decades, but because of this publishers, libraries and archiveshave to order specially processed acid free paper, which is much more expensive, in order tokeep records. Paper made naturally from hemp is acid free and will last for centuries. Thechemicals used to make wood chemical pulp paper today could cause us trouble in the future. Environmentalists have long been concerned about the effects of dioxin and other compoundson wildlife and even people. Beyond the chemical pollution, there are agricultural reasonswhy we should use cannabis hemp instead. When trees are harvested, minerals are taken withthem. Hemp is much less damaging to the land where it is grown because it leaves theseminerals behind. A newly discovered use of hemp in industry involves the production ofbiomass fuels, or fuels made from plants. The pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be burned asis or processed into charcoal, methanol, methane, or gasoline. The process for doing this iscalled destructive distillation, or `pyrolysis.’ This charcoal may be burned in today’scoal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good automobile fuel, in fact it is usedin professional automobile races. It may someday replace gasoline. Hemp may also be usedto produce ethanol (grain alcohol). The United States government has developed a way to makethis automobile fuel additive from cellulosic biomass. Hemp is an excellent source of highquality cellulosic biomass. One other way to use hemp as fuel is to use the oil from thehemp seed-some diesel engines can run on pure pressed hemp seed oil. However, the oil ismore useful for other purposes, even if we could produce and press enough hemp seed to powermany millions of cars. Biomass fuels are clean and virtually free from metals and sulfur, sothey do not cause nearly as much air pollution as fossil fuels. Even more importantly,burning biomass fuels does not increase the total amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’satmosphere. When petroleum products are burned, carbon that has been stored underground formillions of years is added to the air; this may contribute to global warming through the`Greenhouse Effect’, (a popular theory which says that certain gases will act like a woolblanket over the entire Earth, preventing heat from escaping into space.) In order to makebiomass fuels, this carbon dioxide has to be taken out of the air to begin with-when theyare burned it is just being put back where it started. Another advantage over fossil fuels

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