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Legalize Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

Should Marijuana Be Legal

By: Colby Gilbert

E-mail: ghettob3232@aol.com

Should Marijuana Be Legal This is a topic that has become a bit of concern

amongst people in the past few years. Marijuana has been illegal since the

early 1900?s, but lately scientists have figured out that there are some uses of

marijuana that could benefit people in need, people who are sick of deadly

diseases such as aids, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. These are all diseases

that are hard for anyone to go through, especially without aid that helps the

pain and misery from ceasing. Prohibiting marijuana has just made things

worse, by increasing the price of marijuana, the illegal usage, and the money

spent on trying to cease its use. Abraham Lincoln once said two quotes about

prohibition, ?Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts

to control a man?s appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that

are not crimes,? and ?A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles

upon which our government was founded.? I believe that he is right for stating

that we have rights and they should not be taken for granted. He may have

not been thinking of marijuana when he made his speech, but it involves

prohibition, meaning prohibition in general and of any kind. The first crop of

American hemp was grown in 1611 (Grinspoon 11). However, the modern

practice of smoking marijuana was not introduced until the 1920?s. This was

a time of drug intolerance. America was in the stages of the prohibition of

alcohol campaign. Marijuana was introduced and smoked by the early

immigrants. In the 1930?s it was a common belief that immigrants were

inhumane and violent, so these attitudes were associated and blamed on the

marijuana. By 1931 all but two states had anti-marijuana legislation. By 1937

all states had prohibited marijuana use and made it illegal to have anything to

do with this drug. No research was ever made on marijuana at this time or its

effects. People simply believed in assumptions made about marijuana, such

things as it provoked violent crime and caused insanity. Strategies of fighting

marijuana were silence and exaggeration. People believed that by not telling

their children about marijuana, then they would not become curious and not

experiment with it. In the 1930?s it was deemed that schools could not talk

about marijuana. The Motion Picture Association of America banned all films

that showed narcotics from 1934-1956 (Musto 46). This approach did not

work so people quickly moved onto the next step, exaggeration. The

purpose of exaggerating was to scare possible users from trying marijuana.

The American Journal of Medicine once wrote, ?Marijuana users will

suddenly turn with murderous violence upon whoever is nearest to them

(Musto 44). One modern cause of prohibition was the belief that if the

marijuana policy was relaxed, then more people would use marijuana. In

1984 nationwide usage was at 26.3%. In the eleven states that decriminalized

it it was 27.3%. In 1988 nationwide use was 15.4% and the eleven states

was at 16.1%. The statistics show that by prohibiting it or allowing it, the use

would be one and the same. Holland is another example of the effect of

legalizing marijuana. Holland legalized marijuana in 1976 and since then they

have had a 40% reduction in marijuana users. Another statistic, in 1979

68.2% of the population of 18-25 year olds had tried marijuana at least once,

and 30% were users. Those numbers are down now to 50% and 13%, but

the point is that after 30 years the drug is still being attained. Now if the

purpose of prohibiting marijuana is to eliminate its use, then prohibition has

failed. Prohibition has accomplished some things, one being it has made

criminal drug dealers richer. The risks of trafficking marijuana has increased,

thus enabling these people raise the price of weed, which increases their

profits. Second, marijuana has caused taxpayers tremendous amounts of

money on police, court costs, and jails. Last, it has torn apart families with

members that use marijuana. Did you know that 58% of marijuana felons

have no relevant prior crime history, 91% were not considered organizers,

leaders, managers, or supervisors, and 92% did not even own guns

(Schlosser 93). Now what does this say about our judicial system to put

away people such as these. I believe that we have far more important things

to worry about. The average time served in prison for selling marijuana is four

years, compared with just one year for rape or manslaughter. So apparently

this proves that drug crimes are more important than violent crimes. It treats

drugs as more important than God-given constitutionally protected rights. A

way to look at marijuana in a positive point of view is to look at it for its

medical purposes. In 1972, the federal government had an extensive research

of marijuana and found that there is no physically addictive traits. Dr. Jack

Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse?s Addiction Research

Center and Dr. Neal Benowitz, Of the University of California, ranked six

drugs: heroine, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana, on their

ability to produce psychological dependence. Nicotine was found to be the

most addicting, and marijuana the least. Not only did marijuana rank as the

least addictive, but it also ranked least likely to get a tolerance, and least

likely to show signs of withdraw after quitting smoking marijuana (Schlosser

92). In comparing marijuana to alcohol and tobacco you see that alcohol

causes cirrhosis of the liver, cigarettes cause lung cancer, or the plain fact that

both are carcinogens which speed up all cancers. Looking at this you could

see that marijuana is not that different from things that are legal today.

Alcohol and tobacco have no good points to them, they are harmful and are

taking more lives everyday. Alcohol is the factor of half of all highway

fatalities, half of all arrests, half of all homicides, and a fourth of all suicides

(National 15). So ask yourself this, how much worse is weed really? In

January of 1997, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

asked the Institute of Medicine to conduct a review of the scientific evidence

to assess the potential benefits and risks of marijuana and its constituent

cannabinoids. They found that marijuana smoke contains 39 cannabinoid

drugs, THC being the most common one. The cannabinoids in marijuana are

effective treatments for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and

vomiting, and appetite stimulation. It can also reduce anxiety, can cause

sedation, and euphoria. The most adverse effect is reduced psychomotor

performance, meaning it is dangerous to operate heavy equipment or

automobiles. Patients would not be doing this anyway, the serious ones that

are using it. There is no evidence that usage causes cancer. Dependence on

the substance is rare, and withdraw symptoms are mild and short-lived.

There are 30 symptoms for which people are currently claiming that

marijuana help, however there has not been any studies on them. Although, it

is known that marijuana helps muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis sufferers.

In closing, I hope that you have a better understanding of marijuana as a

whole, keeping aside from the prejudices and long-term stereotypes. I

believe that the government should freely educate all they want on the effects

of using marijuana. The government should not be allowed to say if one can

or cannot practice that behavior in the privacy of their home. People should

be allowed to do whatever they please as long as it doesn?t directly harm

someone else. We should be allowed freedom of choice just like Lincoln

said, ?And prohibiting this freedom strikes a blow at the very principles upon

which

4e7

our government was founded.? Source Page . Musto, David F.

Opium, Cocaine and Marijuana in American History. Scientific American

Journal 1991: 40-47 . National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.

Marijuana: a Signal of Misunderstanding. Washington: GPO, 1972. .

Schlosser, Eric. Reefer Maddness. Atlantic Monthly Sept. 1994: 84-94


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