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Speech on the Legalization of Marijuana

Mary Jane. Herb. Buds. Chronic. Reefer. Ganja. Charas. Sens. Boom. Buddha. Dope. Weed. Pot. All of these names describe one thing: marijuana. Over the years, this plant has acquired many names and uses. At this time in the United States, marijuana is an illegal drug with numerous users and is widely available for a price. Many users speak of the benefits of smoking marijuana and want to get it legalized for that purpose. My name is Dr. ———— and I am the President of NORML–The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Our sole purpose is to first legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, so that research can tell us exactly what kind of a drug this is and how the drug works in the human body. This research will enable the medicinal marijuana to be available for the public for general purposes.

Having heard that water is at least ten thousand years old, one can say that marijuana is as old as water because tens of thousands of years ago, ancient people first used this green plant for food. Then, it was discovered that the plant, sometimes called hemp, produces fibers used to make rope, cloth, roofing materials, and floor coverings (Monroe 11). Only in more recent times have people learned of this plant’s benefits when it is smoked. Pot has been smoked since the 1960s because of the effects it causes.

When smoked, marijuana alters brain functions causing the person to experience the ultimate euphoric feeling. This is the main reason that patients with chronic illnesses, who are suffering a great deal of pain, smoke marijuana. The pain relief comes within minutes of smoking pot, whereas prescription painkillers can take up to 45 minutes to take effect (Monroe 4).

Marijuana, like any other drug, is not harmless. Probably the most dangerous effect of making marijuana is potential lung damage. This is because marijuana cigarettes contain very high levels of tar–about twice as much as tobacco cigarettes. It is true that users of this product will generally not smoke as much marijuana as tobacco smokers smoke tobacco, but the dangers of tar inhalation still remain.

This should not be a concern, however, for patients with terminal cancer or AIDS. People with glaucoma might also be willing to risk some potential harm to their health for the sake of preserving their sight. It also appears to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Through its famous induction of “the munchies”, it stimulates the appetites of those who have lost the desire to eat, such as people suffering the late stages of AIDS.

Compared with the chemotherapeutic agents responsible for the nausea and vomiting that leads people to marijuana, marijuana itself is quite safe. According to testimony given to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), one would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette–that is to say, nearly 1500 pounds of marijuana in about 15 minutes–in order to ingest a fatal amount. The chemotherapy agents themselves are far more lethal (Economist 4). This proves that it is humanly impossible to die from a marijuana overdose. Fifteen hundred people cannot do this, so how can one?

It is said that marijuana is a drug of unproven safety and effectiveness, and such unproven drugs should not be allowed. But the effectiveness of medicinal marijuana has been attested to by thousands of patients who have used it illegally. Should it matter whether the relief of nausea and pain is the result of some “scientifically proven” direct chemical action of marijuana or is the result of a marijuana-induced euphoria?

Pain and relief are notoriously difficult to quantify in controlled experiments. What counts is whether the suffering of a seriously ill patient is relieved, rather than whether or not data “prove” efficacy. Dronabinol, a drug that contains tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), one of the active ingredients is marijuana, has been available by prescription for 10 years (Economist 5). It is not widely used, however, because it is so difficult to measure an effective therapeutic dosage. Self-administered marijuana , on the other hand, has allowed patients a degree of control over the dosage and has proved quite effective (Economist 6).

It should also be noted that law allows physicians to prescribe narcotic drugs such as morphine for the relief of pain. With morphine, however, the difference between the dose that relieves pain and the dose that hastens death is very small. With marijuana, there simply is no risk of death.

Legalizing marijuana would not just benefit the Americans that need pain relief, but also those American farmers that need a good cash crop to earn them large sums of money. Now that I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen of Congress, let me explain. The NORML Foundation concluded on October 14, 1998 that marijuana is the fourth largest cash crop in America despite the law enforcement enforcing prohibition (NORML 1). Marijuana ranks under corn, soybeans, and hay in the top four cash crop list, unofficially. (Since it is illegal, it is not normally included in the list).

This report “estimates that farmers harvested 8.7 million marijuana plants in 1997 worth $15.1 billion to growers and $25.2 billion on the retail market” (NORML 1). The wholesale value of marijuana was used to compare it to other cash crops in the reports. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of The NORML Foundation, stated that, “Had the author’s [of the report] calculated marijuana’s total value to growers by street market prices, marijuana would decidedly rank as America’s number one cash crop.” (NORML 2)

The report bases its findings on “Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) marijuana eradication statistics, a survey of state police eradication self-appraisals, and published marijuana price reports” (NORML 2). Had the authors accepted the governments one pound per plant standard, 1997’s marijuana crop would have been worth $26.3 billion to growers and $43.8 billion on the street (NORML 2).

Allen St. Pierre said, “Marijuana cultivation is here to stay. The question is: Do we continue with current, unsuccessful efforts to sanction growers and users, or do we try to harness this unregulated, multi-billion dollar-a-year industry?” (NORML 2).

That is where you, ladies and gentlemen of Congress, come in. Legalization of marijuana would mean more money for the nation as a whole. For medicinal purposes, patients will have an herbal alternative to prescription painkillers. For the farmer, they will have another cash crop to grow. For the government, marijuana would be another export/import that would bring in large sums of money.

As far as regulation of this drug, laws setting an age limit to purchase the drug, for example, you have to be 18 to purchase tobacco products and 21 to be purchase alcohol products. Grants will have to be awarded by the government for research on this drug and people will have to be hired to do the research. This also creates job opportunities for the unemployed citizens of the United States.

My explanations have shown you the benefits of marijuana and ways to regulate it. It is now your decision to make on whether or not to legalize it. Legalization would only benefit everyone. Thank you.

Works Cited

“Marijuana Ranks Fourth Largest Cash Crop in America Despite Prohibition.” NORML

News. 1998. Online. Yahoo. Internet. 15 October

1998. Available http://www.natlnorml.org/news/index.shtml

Monroe, Judy. “Marijuana-a mind altering drug.” Current Health 2. March 1998.

Online. Infotrac. Internet-Undergraduate Library. 16 October 1998.


“Pot on Presciption.” The Economist. June 13, 1998. Online. Infotrac. Internet.

16 October 1998. Available http://web7.searchbank.com/infotrac/session/998/978/24939215w3/24!nrn_16

“Twelve Reasons to Legalize Drugs.” The Pragmatist. August 1998. Online. Yahoo.

Internet. 16 October 1998. Available http://turnpike.net/ hnr/12reason.htm


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