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Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

Should Drugs Be Made Legal?

For several decades drugs have been one of the major problems of society. There have been escalating costs spent on the war against drugs and countless dollars spent on rehabilitation, but the problem still exists. Not only has the drug problem increased but drug related problems are on the rise. Drug abuse is a killer in our country. Some are born addicts (crack babies), while others become users.

The result of drug abuse is thousands of addicts in denial. The good news is the United States had 25,618 total arrests and 81,762 drug seizures due to drugs in 1989 alone, but the bad news is the numbers of prisoners have increased by 70 percent which will cost about $30 million dollars. Despite common wisdom, the U.S isn’t experiencing a drug related crime wave. Government surveys show between 1980 – 1987, burglary rates fell 27 percent, robbery 21 percent and murder 13 percent, but with new drugs on the market these numbers are up. One controversial solution is the proposal of legalizing drugs. Although people feel that legalizing drugs would lessen crime, drugs should remain illegal in the U.S because there would be an increase of drug abuse and a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS.

Many believe that legalizing drugs would lessen crime. They point out that the legalization of drugs would deter future criminal acts. They also emphasize and contrast Prohibition. When the public realized that Prohibition could not be enforced the law was repealed. From this, one may infer the same of legalizing drugs. Legalizing alcohol didn’t increase alcoholism, so why would drugs increase drug abuse?

However, drugs should not be legalized because there would be an increase in drug abuse due to its availability. Once legalized, drugs would become cheaper and more accessible to people who previously had not tried drugs, because of the high price or the legal risk. Drug abuse would skyrocket! Addicts who tend to stop, not by choice, but because the drugs aren’t accessible would now feed the addiction if drugs were made legal. These drug addicts would not be forced to kick the habit due to the availability of the drug they would partake eagerly. The temptation to use drugs would increase when advertisements for cocaine, heroin and marijuana are displayed on television. Instead of money used by employed addicts, you will see welfare funds used to purchase drugs. If welfare funds were being misused, this would cause a major problem in the economy. Drugs must not be legalized. It puts our country at a terrible risk.

Health officials have shown that the legalization of drugs would cause a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS. AIDS poses a growing threat to addicts, and thus to society as a whole. The virus that causes AIDS is growing, due to drug addicts who share needles and syringes. The sharing of such needles by intravenous drug users helps increase the spread of AIDS. “Infection among IV drug abusers is continuing to occur at a very steady rate,” warn Richard E. Chaisson director of the AIDS service at John Hopkins University. In the U.S gay men still make up the primary risk group, although 750,000 to 1 million drug addicts are believed to be at risk to AIDS nationally. The problem here is the sharing of needles, which is causing the spread of AIDS. IV drug abusers are killing our nation at an amazingly fast speed. AIDS, which surfaced in the 80?s, is now on the rise and even more deadly to IV drug users. The sharing of needles must be stopped. Drugs should not be legalized.

Although people feel that legalizing drugs would lessen crime, drugs should remain illegal in the U.S because there would be an increase of drug abuse and a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS. The United States can not afford this problem. It has become a world power by strengthening its people not by killing them. Drug abuse has gotten worse, with its effects on crack babies, drug addicts, and the I.V user. There must be education for the survival of this nation, not legalization.

The Debate Over Legalization of Marijuana

Pro marijuana legalization groups such as the Physician’s Association for AIDS Care, National Lymphoma Foundation argue that marijuana should be legalized in order to treat terminally ill patients. Among them are AIDS victims who find that marijuana stimulates their appetites so they can fight off dangerous emaciation; glaucoma sufferers who have used marijuana said it has prevented them from going blind, and cancer patients for whom it alleviates the severe nausea that is often accompanies chemotherapy and sometimes makes lifesaving treatment impossible.

Due to all these lobbying groups which show substantial evidence that marijuana can be used as a prescribed drug. Also many advocates who are pro marijuana complain that morphine and cocaine are legal and are very dangerous drugs, that brings up the question why not legalize marijuana as medical drug which is proven to be less dangerous than cocaine and morphine. Lobbying groups in a San Diego, California, council committee unanimously voted to urge President Bill Clinton and congress to end federal restrictions against the use of marijuana for ” legitiment medical use.” City council women Christine kehoe said she wanted the city of San Diego “to go on the record we support the medical use marijuana. Marijuana can be a drug of necessity in the treatment of AIDS, glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Many agencies that are anti marijuana such as Drug Enforcement Agency and police departments argue that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized. These agencies believe that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized because if marijuana is to become legal then thousands more patients using marijuana. Then people will raise the question why marijuana illegal at all if its a medicine.

The main reason why the Drug Enforcement Agency doesn’t want marijuana to be legal is because there is no hard core evidence that proves that marijuana is an effective drug as a medicine. In twenty years of research have produced no reliable scientific proof that marijuana has medical value. The American Cancer Society, American Glaucoma Society, the National Multiple Sclerosis, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, or the American Medical Association, say that their is no evidence that marijuana is a medicine. The agencies also argues that no other drug prescribed is smoked and that knew findings show that marijuana is acutely harmful to AIDS, Cancer patients because the active ingredient in marijuana acutely reduces the bodies white blood cells which fight off infection. The Drug Enforcement Agency along with police departments all over the United States believe, with the legalization of drugs crime will increase due to a higher increase of pot users which will eventually become addicts and will still or kill in order to get their drugs. These are the main points and reasons why the Drug named marijuana shouldn’t be legalized in the United States of America.

Seeing booth sides of the issue I come to a conclusion that marijuana should be legalized in order to help people suffering from terminal diseases such as AIDS, Cancer and Glaucoma. Prohibition of marijuana over the past decades hasn’t diminished the demand of the drug in the United States. The use of marijuana has acutely went up due to the mass attention given to marijuana by rappers such as Cypress Hill who promote the use of marijuana as a social drug. But I believe that marijuana is here to stay in our society and is only going through the stages that alcohol had during the prohibition era.

Marijuana will become legal due to the new administration which is liberal and who’s leader, President Bill Clinton who had acutely used marijuana during the nineteen sixties. Due to all these factors marijuana will become more widely accepted by the American people who will pressure congress to rewrite the laws on the drug marijuana. Now it?s only a matter of time before lobbying groups pressure the legislature to legalize it. Due to legalization many states will be able to grow marijuana as a cash crop, and the United States government will be able to tax marijuana and make revenue off it. The revenue made from marijuana will be in the millions, which can be used for drug rehabs and anti drug programs targeted at elementary children. Still by seeing both sides of the issue I’m still one hundred percent pro marijuana because I use it socially and I believe it?s less harmful than beer or liquor because with marijuana you can’t overdose.


Whether you call it Hemp, Mary Jane, Pot, Weed; it doesn’t matter. It is still Cannabis Sativa, or cannabis for short. And it is still illegal. The use of marijuana as an intoxicant in the United States became a problem of public concern in the 1930s. Regulatory laws were passed in 1937, and criminal penalties were instituted for possession and sale of the drug. “Marijuana” refers to the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant, which contains the non-narcotic chemical THC at various potencies. It is smoked or eaten to produce the feeling of being “high.” The different strains of this herb produce different sensual effects, ranging from a sedative to a stimulant.

The term “marijuana” is a word with indistinct origins. Some believe it is derived from the Mexican words for “Mary Jane”; others hold that the name comes from the Portuguese word marigu-ano, which means “intoxicant”. The use of marijuana in the 1960’s might lead one to surmise that marihuana use spread explosively. The chronicle of its 3,000 year history, however, shows that this “explosion” has been characteristic only of the contemporary scene. The plant has been grown for fiber and as a source of medicine for several thousand years, but until 500~ AD its use as a mind-altering drug was almost solely confined in India. The drug and its uses reached the Middle and Near East during the next several centuries, and then moved across North Africa, appeared in Latin America and the Caribbean, and finally entered the United States in the early decades of this century. Marijuana can even be used as “Biomass” fuel, where the pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be burned as is or processed into charcoal, methanol, methane, or gasoline. This process is called destructive distillation, or ‘pyrolysis.’ Fuels made out of plants like this are called ‘biomass’ fuels. This charcoal may be burned in today’s coal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good automobile fuel. In fact it is used in professional automobile races. It may someday replace gasoline.

Marijuana has many medical purposes also. The cannabis extract was available as a medicine legally in this country until 1937, and was sold as a nerve tonic-but mankind has been using cannabis medicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in almost every known book of medicine written by ancient scholars and wise men. It is usually ranked among the top medicines, called ‘panaceas’, a word, which means ‘cure-all’. The list of diseases which cannabis can be used for includes; multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS (and AIDS treatment), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, asthma, pruritis, sclerodoma, severe pain, and dystonia. This list does not even consider the other medicines which can be made out of marijuana-these are just some of the illnesses for which people smoke or eat whole marijuana today. There are over 60 chemicals in marijuana that may have medical uses. It is relatively easy to extract these into food or beverage, or into some sort of lotion, using butter, fat, oil, or alcohol. One chemical, cannabinol, may be useful to help people who cannot sleep. Another is taken from premature buds and is called cannabidiolic acid. It is a powerful disinfectant. Marijuana dissolved in rubbing alcohol helps people with the skin disease herpes control their sores, and a salve like this was one of the earliest medical uses for cannabis. The leaves were once used in bandages and a relaxing non-psychoactive herbal tea can be made from small cannabis stems. Also cannabis, as any other biomass fuels, are clean burning and do not increase the amount of CO2 the atmosphere, therefore making breathing easier for may people.

Attempts at legalizing marijuana in the US going on for a long time. But just recently two states, California and Arizona, voted to legalize it for medical purposes only, but the US government still enforces the federal law, stating that federal law overrules state law. As said by Dr Cliff Schaffer: “In all my study and review of the information regarding this issue, one question keeps coming back to me. Let’s assume – for the sake of argument – that marijuana has no medical value whatsoever, despite the fact that it has a several thousand-year history of medical use and that a prescription drug is made from its primary active ingredient. Let’s assume – for the sake of argument – that all these medical marijuana patients are just fooling themselves. Even in that case, what would we stand to gain as a society by punishing sick people and putting them through an already overloaded criminal justice system? Even if they are deluding themselves-what benefit is there to prosecuting sick people?”

In conclusion to this, it is important to state that there have been hundreds of studies showing that smoking cannabis is potentially harmful to the brain and body and the same number of studies almost, if not totally, contradicting what these have stated.

Legalizing Hemp

For many years, the United States government has prohibited drugs such as marijuana from sale in the marketplace. Yet, with prohibition, marijuana use has decreased only minimally. Because of prohibition, 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 reduced marijuana usage. 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 that prohibits hemp is called the “Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970″. The Comprehensive 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 for reducing 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 sweatshops 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 foreign and mysterious practice of using opium. We can see this pattern again with cocaine, except Black Americans were the targets. Cocaine was not especially useful in the workplace, but the strategy against Chinese immigrants (picking on their drug of choice) had been so successful that it was used again. For Blacks, though, the racist feelings ran deeper, and the main thrust of the propaganda campaign was to control the Black community and keep Blacks from becoming successful. Articles appeared in newspapers, which blamed cocaine for violent crime by Blacks. They painted Black Americans as savage, uncontrollable beasts when under the influence of cocaine-they said that it made a single Black man as strong as four or five police officers. By capitalizing on racist sentiments, a powerful political o could sell alcohol where. Organized crime became an American institution, and hard liquor, which was 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 end of Prohibition, when the government decided that the best way to deal with the situation was just to give up and allow people to use alcohol legally. Under Prohibition the American government had essentially (and unwittingly) provided the military backup for the takeover of the alcohol business by armed thugs. Even today, the Mob still controls liquor sales in many areas. After Prohibition the United States was left with nothing to show but a decade of political turmoil-and many unemployed police officers.

During Prohibition, being a police officer was a very good thing. They got a relatively decent salary, respect, partial immunity to the law, and the opportunity to take bribes. Many of these officers were not ready to let this lifestyle slip away. Incidentally, it was about this time when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was reformed, and a man named Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as its head. Anslinger campaigned tirelessly for funding in order to hire a large force of narcotics officers. (After retiring, Anslinger once mused that the FBNDD was a place where young men were given a license to steal and rape.) The FBNDD is the organization that preceded what we now call the DEA, and was responsible for enforcing the new Federal drug laws against heroin, opium, and cocaine. One of Anslinger’s biggest concerns as head of 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 dreamed of arresting them all in one huge, cross-country sweep.) Anslinger frequented the parents and teacher’s meetings, giving scary speeches about the dangers of marijuana. This period of time became known as Reefer Madness. (The name comes from the title of a movie produced by a public health group.) Today, it is indisputable that the status quo has failed. Increased spending for the enforcement of narcotic laws has not produced any significant improvements. With drug related deaths increasing in the inner cities, and usage again on the rebound, we all can see that a change in our system is necessary. Below is a chart representing increased marijuana usage among people in the key ages of 19-28.

Usage of marijuana among people ages 19-28


% of people reported using marijuana/ year66.5%66.0%63.5%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 the U-M Institute for Social Research.

As I have stated before, propaganda was very well produced and distributed during “Reefer Madness”. Sadly, much of the health related data included in the propaganda is untrue, or overstated. The falsehoods have been numerous. One of the first deviations from the truth involves the supposed lowering of testosterone amounts in men who smoke marijuana. There has yet to be any strong evidence that would prove this point. They manufactured this lie during the first “Reefer Madness”, in order to scare men into thinking that they would lose their manly characteristics after using the drug. Another misinterpretation of a study involves propaganda stating that prolonged marijuana usage makes men sterile. In fact, “marijuana use shows no conclusive evidence of reducing the sperm counts in males age 18-39, where sperm production is usually a constant between individuals” (U.S. Government). Another misunderstanding promoted by anti-drug literature is the idea that marijuana kills brain cells. This is far from the truth. A study 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 on Rhesus monkeys used technology so sensitive that scientists could actually see the effect of learning on brain cells. No damage was found. Another popular myth often told by prohibitionists is that marijuana smoke causes cancer. There has yet to be a study that conclusively points to this. Scientists do not really know what it is that causes malignant lung 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 easy to see why no case of lung cancer resulting from marijuana use alone has ever been documented, because tobacco contains much more of this substance than marijuana. Anti-drug literature also promotes the misconception that marijuana smoking causes laziness. If you are a responsible adult, it does not. The U.S. Army did a study on this, and the results showed no effect. Many Eastern cultures, and Jamaicans, use marijuana to help them work harder. `A motivational syndrome’ started as a media myth based on the racial stereotype of a lazy Mexican borracho. The prohibitionists claimed that marijuana made people worthless and sluggish. Since then, however, it has been scientifically researched, and a symptom resembling a motivational syndrome has actually been found. However, it only occurs in adolescent teenagers-adults are not affected. Yet another misunderstood and misused fact about marijuana is how it contains over 400 chemicals. What many people do not understand is 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 two substances do not affect ones health, yet contain many chemicals. The fact that there are over sixty unique chemicals in cannabis, called `cannabinoids,’ is something that scientists find 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 cells for 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 molecules known as `metabolites,’ which don’t get people high. Unfortunately, these chemicals also have the word `tetrahydrocannabinol’ in them and they are also called THC-so many people think that the metabolites get people high. Anti-drug pamphlets say that THC gets stored in your fat cells and then leaks out later. They say it can keep people high all-day or even longer. This is not true; marijuana only keeps people high for a few hours. These are the chemicals that stay in your fatty cells. There is almost no Delta-9-THC left over a few hours after smoking marijuana, and scientific studies, which measure the effects of marijuana, agree with this fact. Many people have yet to hear are the many medical benefits of smoking marijuana. Marijuana is better than regular prescription medications for many reasons. First, companies sell prescription drugs at high cost, partially because they are hard to make. Commonly, they do not work as well, either. Some prescription drugs which marijuana can replace have very bad, even downright dangerous, side effects. Cannabis medicines are cheap, safe, and easy to make. Marijuana has thousands of possible uses in medicine. Marijuana (actually cannabis extract) was available as a medicine legally in this country until 1937, and was sold as a nerve tonic-but humankind has been using cannabis medicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in almost every known book of medicine written 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 dronabinol should be used instead of marijuana. Dronabinol is an exact imitation of a chemical found in marijuana. There are many problems with Dronabinol, however. The first problem with Dronabinol is that it is even harder to get than marijuana. Many doctors do not like to prescribe dronabinol, and many drug stores do not want to supply it, because a lot of paperwork has to be filed with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Secondly, dronabinol comes in pills that are virtually useless to anyone who is vomiting. Also, taking just the right amount of dronabinol is difficult since it cannot be smoked. Finally, because dronabinol is only one of the many chemicals in cannabis, it just does not work for some diseases. Many patients do not like the effects of dronabinol because it does not contain some of the more calming chemicals, which are present in marijuana. Marijuana has shown to be very beneficial in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is one of the most important cancer treatments developed in the past several decades. It involves the intravenous administration of medication that kills cancer. In attacking cancer cells, they also 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, and sometimes a new form of cancer. Still, the most common, and for many patients the most troublesome, side effect of these drugs is profound nausea and vomiting. Patients may break bones or rupture the esophagus while vomiting. This can be emotionally devastating. As they loose weight and strength, they find it ever more difficult to sustain the will to live. The side effects are so bad; patients often stop treatment altogether. Marijuana, taken with these ordinarily painful medications, suppresses, even eliminates, the side effects. This allows the patients to sustain the treatment, and helps them physically to expedite the healing process. Marijuana also has shown to be beneficial in-patients suffering from the eye condition known as glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disorder that results from an imbalance of eye pressure, leading to blurred vision. If the eye produces too much of the internal fluid that keeps eye pressure, or if the channels to which the fluid flows are blocked, the increasing pressure may damage the optic nerve, which carries impulses to the brain. This would cause blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of Blindness in the U.S. Although present treatments work, they commonly cause side effects including depression, asthma, slow heart rate, heart failure, hypertension, heart disease, blurred vision, and cataracts. In an experiment to see the effects of Marijuana on the eyes, it was discovered that marijuana reduces in ocular pressure. In a study, “(the participants) eyes were photographed as they smoked, and the pupils were found to be slightly constricted . An opthamological examination showed that cannabis also reduced tearing. Further experiments indicated a similar effect in-patients with glaucoma for an average of four to five hours, with “no indications 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 abnormally excitable and spontaneously discharge in an uncontrolled way. This spontaneous discharge causes a seizure. Doctors treat epilepsy primarily with anticonvulsant drugs, but they help only 75 percent of the time. Furthermore, these drugs have terrible side effects encompassing bone softening, reduced production of red blood cells, swelling of the gums, and emotional disturbances. Overdoses my cause rapid uncontrollable eye movements, loss of motor coordination, coma, and even death. Studies have shown that treatment with cannabis is extremely successful. Here is a case of a 24-year-old man, a sufferer of epilepsy: “With the phenytoin (prescription medication), I had about one seizure a week. After smoking two to five 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.” (Internet) Marijuana has been shown to be especially effective for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disorder in which patches of myelin (the protective covering of nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord are destroyed and the normal functioning of the nerve fibers themselves is interrupted. There is no known cure yet for MS. Corticosteroids provide some relief, but also produce weight gain and mental 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, and confusion. Greg Paufler was a suffering MS patient for many years. His doctor told him to take 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 over some marijuana. He smoked it, and Greg’s symptoms disappeared. He contributed this first to the 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 could not move at all. Doctors gave him megadoses of medications, but nothing helped. He was severely 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 of the effects of marijuana. To prove that it was the marijuana, he stopped smoking for a week. 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 stopped smoking 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, and could teach his children how to play soccer. He could kick the ball. He was reborn. On a scale of 100, his doctor rates his present health at ninety-five. The medical benefits of marijuana 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 injury in the middle or lower parts of the spinal cord. If the injury is near the neck, the arms as well as the legs are affected and quadriplegia develops. Pain and muscle spasms often accompany both. Sufferers have noticed that cannabis not only relieves their pain more safely than opoids, but it also suppresses their muscle jerks and tremors. AIDS sufferers have also attested to the benefits of smoking marijuana. Doctors can treat AIDS with medications such as AZT. Unfortunately, AZT suppresses the production of the red blood cells by the bone marrow, decreases the amount of white blood cells, and has many damaging effects on the immune system. It also sometimes causes severe nausea that heightens the danger of semi-starvation for patients who are already suffering from nausea. AIDS patients who smoke marijuana have noticed reduced pain, and the elimination of vomiting and headaches. Patients who have stopped taking AZT and instead used marijuana alone have often found that they feel free of the virus. These results have been obtainable through the smoking of 2-3 joints per day. Marijuana smokers who suffer from chronic pain have likewise seen the benefits. Chronic pain is usually treated with opiod narcotics and various synthetic analgesics, but these drugs have many limitations. Opiods are addictive, and tolerance eventually develops, nonaddictive analgesics are not powerful enough. THC has been shown to relieve pain for several hours at doses as small as 5mg, and even longer at 20mg. THC also proved to be a sedative. It had fewer physical side effects than other commonly used analgesics. Sufferers of the migraine have furthermore seen how marijuana can reduce severe pain. Migraine, a severe headache that lasts from hours to days, results from dilated blood vessels in the brain. Visual disturbances and vomiting often accompany it. Marijuana has been shown extremely effective in preventing migraines. In contrast to ineffective analgesics, marijuana smokers do not exhibit side effects. “THC has been shown to inhibit the release of serotonin from the blood of migraine suffers during an attack.” (Internet). This release of serotonin relieves the migraine, and can also prevent further attacks. Pruritis sufferers have testified to the substantial benefits of smoking marijuana. Pruritis is severe itching and inflamed skin. Steroids are only partially effective, and produce serious side effects with long term use. People who suffer from this condition have noticed that upon smoking marijuana for a few day s, their skin problems are cured. Just like the vast majority of marijuana smokers, they show no side effects. For chronic depression and other severe mood disorders, marijuana has proven to be an ‘upper’. Other drugs for these conditions can cause dry mouth, blurred vision, weight loss/gain, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, and reduced blood flow to the brain. Marijuana does not cause these symptoms. For people who cannot use legal drugs, Marijuana has been the cure they have needed. For asthma, marijuana serves as a powerful bronchialdialator with little or no side effects, compared to traditional asthma cures that can cause sleeplessness, jitteriness, nausea, bone loss, seizures, and bleeding. THC even helps non-suffers breath easier and clearer. In asthma patients, THC reversed bronchia constriction. For suffers of insomnia, cannabis is a great help. Cannabis has a long history as being a sleep-inducing drug. New evidence shows that cannabidiol is the chemical that causes this. One controlled study of fifteen insomniacs found that over a five week period “sleep quality was significantly influenced by 160mg of cannabidiol as two thirds of the subjects slept more than seven hours . . . most subjects had few interruptions of sleep and have reported having a good nights sleep.” (Internet). 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 hyperemesis gravidarum – a greatly heightened form of morning sickness in which the sufferer is never free of nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Nowadays, the women are placed in hospitals and fed through an IV. Some have now discovered that they can do without the IV by smoking marijuana, proven to suppress vomiting and nausea symptoms. The relief given by marijuana can be beneficial to sufferers of many diseases. Without nausea, patients who get their nutrition intravenously can now get their food naturally. This enables patients to rebuild their strength, and it helps the body precipitate the healing process. Sufferers of dystonia can also attest to benefits derived from smoking marijuana. In 1981, it was reported that patients with idiopathic dystonia improved when they smoked marijuana. This is a group of disorders characterized by abnormal movements and postures resulting from prolonged spasms or muscle contractions. Animal studies confirmed that cannabinoids might have antidysotonic properties, and scientists undertook another human experiment in 1986 that showed the same results. The hemp plant shows its unique versatility by having many uses 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 in industry is as a fiber. The process of converting hemp into a fiber is quite simple, and is easy 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 is very durable. In fact, the first Levi’s blue jeans were made out of hemp for just this reason. Compared with all the other natural fibers available, hemp is more suitable for a large number of applications. It is easy to harvest hemp for fiber. A field of closely spaced hemp is allowed to grow until the leaves fall off. They then cut down the hemp and it lies in the field for some time washed by the rain. They turn it over once to expose both sides of the stalk evenly. During this time, the hurd softens up and it returns many minerals 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 then weave the bast. The cloth that hemp makes may be a little less soft than cotton, (though there are also special kinds of hemp, or ways to grow or treat hemp, which can produce a soft cloth) but it is much stronger and longer lasting. Hemp requires little fertilizer, and grows well almost everywhere. It also resists pests, so it uses little pesticides. Hemp puts 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 for twenty years in a row without any noticeable depletion of the soil. Using less fertilizer and agricultural chemicals is good for two reasons. First, it costs less and requires less effort. Second, many agricultural chemicals are dangerous and can contaminate the environment-the less we have to use, the better. Another industrial use for hemp is in victuals. 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 food similar to oatmeal. The leaves can be used as roughage, but not without slight psychoactive 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. It is easy to digest-many patients who have trouble digesting food are given hemp seed by their doctors. Hemp seed was once called `edestine’ and was used by scientists as the model for vegetable protein. Hemp seed oil provides the human body with essential fatty acids. Hemp seed is the only seed that contains these oils with almost no saturated fat. As a supplement to the diet, these oils can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is because of these oils that birds will live much longer if they eat hemp seed. With hemp seed, a vegetarian can survive and eat with virtually no saturated fats. One handful of hemp seed per day 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 up the crop. In other countries, it is because the farmers are busy growing coca and poppies to produce cocaine and heroin for the local Drug Lord. Yet another industrial use of hemp is in the manufacturing of paper. Both the fiber (bast) and pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be used to make paper. Fiber paper was the first kind of paper, and the first batch was made 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, and preferable 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 fiber paper can be made from the hemp baste, also without chemicals. The problem with today’s paper is that so many chemicals are used to make it. High strength acids are needed to make quality (smooth, strong, and white) paper out of trees. These acids produce chemicals that are very dangerous to the environment. Paper companies do their best to clean these chemicals up. Hemp offers us an opportunity to make affordable and environmentally safe paper for all of our needs, since it does not need much chemical treatment. Because of the chemicals in today’s paper, it will turn yellow and fall apart as acids eat away at the pulp. This takes several decades, but because of this publishers, libraries and archives have to order specially processed acid free paper, which is much more expensive, in order to keep records. Paper made naturally from hemp is acid free and will last for centuries. The chemicals 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 compounds on wildlife and even people. Beyond the chemical pollution, there are agricultural reasons why we should use cannabis hemp instead. When trees are harvested, minerals are taken with them. Hemp is much less damaging to the land where it is grown because it leaves these minerals behind. A newly discovered use of hemp in industry involves the production of biomass fuels, or fuels made from plants. The pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be burned as is or processed into charcoal, methanol, methane, or gasoline. The process for doing this is called destructive distillation, or `pyrolysis.’ This charcoal may be burned in today’s coal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good automobile fuel; in fact it is used in professional automobile races. It may someday replace gasoline.

Hemp may also be used to produce ethanol (grain alcohol). The United States government has developed a way to make this automobile fuel additive from cellulose biomass. Hemp is an excellent source of high quality cellulose biomass. One other way to use hemp as fuel is to use the oil from the hemp seed-some diesel engines can run on pure pressed hemp seed oil. However, the oil is more useful for other purposes, even if we could produce and press enough hemp seed to power many millions of cars. Biomass fuels are clean and virtually free from metals and sulfur, so they 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’s atmosphere. When petroleum products are burned, carbon that has been stored underground for millions 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 wool blanket over the entire Earth, preventing heat from escaping into space.) In order to make biomass fuels, this carbon dioxide has to be taken out of the air to begin with-when they are burned it is just being put back where it started. Another advantage over fossil fuels.

Interview with a marijuana user.

Q: Do you think Marijuana has had any long lasting effects on you? A: Not any besides the effects regular cigarette smoke does to your lungs.

Scientific facts prove there are none except the carcinogens produced by the smoke. It doesn’t cause brain damage like your teachers tell you. Q: How do you take it? A: I smoke it. I use pipes, bongs, & papers. Q: How often? A: 20 sack a week, 11-13 joints a month. Q: How much does it cost? A: $200 an ounce, $2,500 lb. and that?s at minimum quality. Q: How can you tell quality? A: Smoke it. Q: How are “Thai Sticks”? A: Better than average. $65 1/4 ounce Q: Where do you think most marijuana is grown? A: 80% of all (in US) marijuana is grown in the US. 20% from Mexico & Jamaica. In Alaska & Utah you can have up to an ounce legally. The biggest growing states are the Carolinas, & Texas. It grows wild in some places. And cows won?t eat it. Q: Do you grow any? A: Yes Q: How many at 1 time (average)? A: 2…check them once a week. Q: Are you in NORML? A: No, but I would like to be in it. Q: What?s the highest price you’ve ever seen? A: $100 a quarter. Q: Is sinsimilia good? A: Yes, $100-125 ounce. That?s usually imported. Q: Can you use a plant more than once? A: No, you kill the male plants as soon as you find there sex then harvest the females. Q: What kind do you grow? A: Average weed. Q: How do you get the seeds? A: They are in the stuff I buy. Q: Whats the best kind? A: Depends on how it’s grown. Q: Do you think a lot of people smoke weed? A: Yes, it is more common than alcohol. People would rather smoke weed than get drunk. Q: Would it be better if legalized? A: Yes, another taxable income for the government. Prices would go down. The crime factor would be gone. It would take the money out of the hands of criminal and put it in the hands of the government. It’s not addictive, you can’t overdose unlike alcohol, and the only down side is that the smoke causes cancer. Q: Would fewer people use it if legalized? A: Not at first, but after a while more people would quit. Kind of like smoking cigarettes. Q: How much is caught by the government? A: About 2% in U.S. Basically that is the government admitting that they are losing the war on drugs. Q: How does it smell? A: Usually good, but sometimes bitter or a sweet smell. Q: THC makes you high right? A: Yes, they have found it causes no long lasting effects and water pipes/bongs remove 80% of the smoke Q: Do you eat it? A: No, eating uses up more. That way isn’t cost effective. Q: Is there anything else you would like to add, before you leave? A: Just that weed should be legalized because it?s the only thing illegal that is also not harmful.

Why Drugs Should Not be Legalized?

The question of whether to legalize drugs or not is a very controversial and important issue. Drugs affect so many areas of society. “The U.S. population has an extremely high rate of alcohol and drug abuse” (Grolier). Several groups have formed and spoken out regarding their position. “Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization is the first step in helping to deliver the credible, consistent message about the risks and costs of the legalization of drugs to people in terms that make sense to them. The anti-legalization message is effective when communicated by representatives of the Federal Government, but takes on even more credibility when it comes from those in the community who can put the legalization debate in local perspective” (Internet).

After learning about the issues regarding both sides of the argument, I would choose to support those who oppose legalization of any drugs. Drugs simply create problems which effect society in several ways. The government has made several efforts to control drugs and their users, however to most the problem appears too out of hand.

“Others see potential profit in legalizing drugs and still others simply believe that individual rights to take drugs should be protected. The group also acknowledged that the legalization concept appeals to people who are looking for simple solutions to the devastating problem of drug abuse” (Internet). Society?s answer to the problem is to trick the drug user by giving him what he wants.

People believe that making drugs legal will take away the temptation to use them. This idea is wrong and far from logical. If drugs are legalized then they will be more accessible to the young, addicted, and ignorant.

“As a result the ready availability of addicting drugs, and as a result of their heavy use for medical problems, many individuals became addicted to the narcotics contained in these potent medicines. In fact, in 1900, there were more narcotics addicts, proportionate to the population, than there are today. At that time, most of the users who became addicts were medical addicts. Very few abusers took drugs for “recreational” purposes. In 1914, in an effort to curb the indiscriminate use of narcotics, the federal government passed the Harrison Act, making it illegal to obtain a narcotic drug without a prescription. During the 1920?s the Supreme Court ruled that maintaining addicts on narcotic drugs, even by prescription, was in violation of the Harrison Act. Some 30,000 physicians were arrested during this period for dispensing narcotics, and some 3,000 actually served prison sentences. Consequently, doctors all but abandoned the treatment of addicts for nearly half a century in the United States” (Grolier).

The only resulting effect will be a negative one. There are no positive aspects of putting drugs on the streets with a label reading “legal.” There are plenty of people in society that find enough trouble on their own without the help of their country. Legalizing drugs would have a devastating result that would affect society as a whole.

“Audiences need to understand that 70% of drug users are employed, and that the school bus driver who drives your children to school could smoke marijuana, that the surgeon who operates on you may have cocaine in his system, and that the driver in back of you may be on speed. The debate needs to demonstrate graphically how the common man will be impacted by drug legalization” (Internet).

There is an idea that the “drug user” is a low class, unemployed junkie. This is untrue. The drug user is often a white collared worker with a family and a future. They are not all dirty with missing teeth and poor grammar. The common misconceptions of the “user” are dangerous to those members of society trying to rid the world of the problem.

“Drinking on the job is a social and economic problem with a long history. With the growing popularity of illegal drugs in the 1960?s and 1970?s, it was to be expected that their use in the workplace would emerge as a major issue by the 1980?s. Estimates of employee drug use vary greatly, ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent for the proportion of workers who use drugs occasionally on the job. The safe performance of some occupations – among them, airline pilot, air traffic controller, truck driver, and physician can be compromised by drug use” (Grolier).

One of the greatest concerns of drugs is their contribution to the crime rate. Crime will always be a problem as long as drugs exist and are abused. “One category of crime is the victimless crime, which includes drunkenness, drug addiction, prostitution and gambling.

The use of the term victimless is an extremely qualified one. It refers to acts committed by consenting adults in private; the acts involve only the participants and are not harmful to others. If harm occurs; it is inflicted only upon the willing participants. Victimless crimes are often characterized by the exchange of sought after goods and services, and they generate huge amounts of illegal income. It has been argued, however, that no crime is victimless. The drug addict suffers physical and emotional harm and often commits property crimes to obtain money for buying drugs” (Grolier).

Crime too often is the result of a drug problem. The crime rate would probably lower if drugs were illegal because the drug abusers wouldn?t need to steal to pay for their drugs. Legalizing drugs would just add to an already rising problem. “Compared with other countries that keep crime statistics, the United States has the highest rate per 100,000 population for reported murders, rapes, and robberies. It is important to remember, however, that the incidence of crime is influenced by such factors as industrialization, urbanization, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, and the availability of fire arms” (Grolier).

This should be reason enough to make all drugs illegal.

Legalizing drugs will just feed the problem that teenagers and young adults face daily. Making drugs legal makes them more conscience accessible and easier on the “The illegal use of psychoactive drugs is vast and extensive in the United States. Some 70 million Americans age 12 and over have tried at least one or more prohibited drugs for the purpose of getting high. The illegal drug trade represents an enormous economic enterprise. Sales of illegal drugs in the United States may have totaled $100 billion in 1986, more than the total net sales of the largest American corporation, and more than American farmers earned from all crops combined. About 60% of the illegal drugs sold worldwide end up in the United States” (Grolier).

The problems that society already faces with the unemployed, homeless, criminals, and high school dropout rate will simply increase. What society would want such problems to escalate. The thought of how seriously this could impact our entire nation is both ridiculous and terrifying.

I strongly believe that there is a great deal of people who have not tried drugs out of fear of getting caught. If this fear were taken from them, they would probably become drug addicts. As stated by the National Commission of Marijuana and Drug Abuse, “The term abuse has no functional utility and has become no more than an arbitrary code word for that drug which is presently considered wrong” (Grolier). I believe that our country should uphold a few basic standards, and keep drugs and the problems they create out of our society. Legalization is an act of neglect and ignorance.

My Conclusion

Cannabis sativa or marijuana has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. The plant spreads like milkweed and will eventually run out any other plants nearby. In the wild, or grown with care marijuana can grow to be 3 – 20 feet high. The plant itself can be used for rope, material, and medicine or for smoking. But, whatever way you choose to use this plant, it is illegal. It was made a law in the early 1900?s that it was illegal to smoke, eat, or get high from this plant. The plant?s only legal use was for rope and materials. The government controlled even this though. In the 1960?s and 1970?s a group of youth stereotyped as “Hippies” were using marijuana on a regular basis to get “high.” This is the term for the effects of the drug when smoked. The effects are that of “ataxia, increased appetite, and a sensation of dryness in the throat.” (A.P.E. L to M 193). These “hippies” fought to legalize it. Groups such as the major one, “N.O.R.M.A.L.” formed to fight for the right to smoke marijuana. Protests were formed and marches and festivals were held. On the other side of this was the government cracking down and forming new laws to keep it illegal. In the 1980?s the fight to legalize marijuana was decreased, but the groups like “N.O.R.M.A.L.” were still around. Although the people weren?t so strong-willed to legalize it they still fought. New and harder drugs were now popular and marijuana wasn?t as “popular.” In the early 1990?s the drug was once again popular after the side effects of the new drugs were seen. The drug?s popularity still increases today. Only there is more violence surrounding it in drug deals and gang wars. Although there would need to be regulations on it and new laws made. The legalization of marijuana would not only benefit the government but also the people. Although the government and people would benefit, it would have a bad side. After many years of fighting to keep it illegal, the government would have to spend millions on new laws, regulations, and plans. Also the government has made treaties with other countries on keeping the world drug-free. America being the largest supporter of a drug-free society would be absolutely hypocritical to go and legalize. Other countries would become angry and think of us as money greedy, drug smoking fools. This would also hurt other countries because America would be a large drug trafficking area where people would come and buy a large amount and export to the still drug-free countries. America?s reputation could go down the drain. Not only would America?s reputation go down but also the fears of American citizens conducting every day life stoned from marijuana is a scary thought. The effects of marijuana are not alcohol?s but would impair a person?s driving ability. Accidents would increase. People who would abuse the drug would not only jeopardize themselves but also others. It would have to be treated as driving while drinking and stiff laws and enforcement would have to be inflicted. These are the downsides to the drug, but with proper laws and methods the drug turn into money for the government. If the government played it right, they could make billions of dollars from this one plant. In the early 1990?s the number one legal cash crop, corn, brought 16 billion dollars to the U.S. Marijuana blew this away with an estimated 24 billion dollars. If the government grew and kept track of marijuana, and sold licenses to farmers to grow it, the government would be able to pay off debts, help the economy and reduce violence-related to the drug all at the same time. They would also be able to sell the stocks of the plant as rope or material. Currently, many farmers are secretly growing marijuana to pay off their own debts. This is an inexpensive way to earn more cash from one plant than they could from a field of corn. The majority of these farmers were growing marijuana in the Midwest, but it?s really growing strong in the Appalachians to the Great Plains. “They look like they were torn from a page from the Saturday Evening Post” (SIRS under marijuana). In the hard! Economic times and in a business which depends on mother nature farmers have no back-up. If they were the proprietors of growing the marijuana they would benefit greatly. Another way the government would benefit is if they put a steep tax on it. There would be an additional money maker and if the price went with the supply and demand theory it would stay a #1 cash crop. But as long as the government keeps the plant illegal it won?t benefit anyone other than a non-educated drug pusher who will sell to anyone no matter what age. I say let it benefit us all. Why make a drug which shouldn?t be compared with crack or heroin, illegal? It would be an overall economy-booster and provider. It would not only benefit us with money but there are medicinal uses for this plant also. Lester Grinspoon, who graduated through Harvard Medical School performed studies, and found that marijuana had helped in healing or preventing pain. He says that it relieves nausea, it can prevent blindness produced by glaucoma, it is an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, and it can ward off migraines, and asthma. I imagine that some of these may be false, but if a few of these work marijuana could be classified as a medicine. If marijuana was prescribed to patients dealing with a severe pain or problem that could be helped with the side effects of smoking marijuana. If a sick person is suffering or they need time to relax and to live without pain for a little while. The drug?s main affecting chemical, tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC, acts as a nerve releaser and creates a sort of relaxed state. You get the sensation that you are floating or in a dream-like state. The ill people would feel these effects instead of the ongoing illness. Compared to modern medicine, marijuana would be relatively cheap. No other illegal drugs are found to have any medicinal uses, including the legal drugs, alcohol and nicotine. The other drugs that circle the market today, such as crack, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and PCP all have very bad and/or fatal effects. No one has ever died from smoking or ingesting marijuana. In fact, it?s estimated that to receive a fatal dose, you would have to smoke one hundred pounds per minute for fifteen minutes. With crack or the other bad drugs you can overdose or die from them on your first try. Also, the other drugs are habit-forming. The effects of marijuana last about an hour depending on the person?s ability to sober up. Other drugs such as LSD take about 11 hours, alcohol takes an hour for every drink you have, and heroin and cocaine last hours. So you could smoke marijuana and in about an hour or two be capable of driving. Marijuana can act as an upper and a downer. As an upper, it makes you social and talkative; as a downer it relaxes you. I am not saying that doing any drugs is good at all. In fact, I don?t think that they are right. Marijuana has more uses than just to get high. I think that with all of the more potent drugs out there, marijuana is like the “baby.” It would reduce drug-related violence severely and it could be put to great use. Granted, there would have to be strict laws and regulations to keep the people who abuse this under control. The legalization of marijuana would not only benefit the government but also the people. With the economy, violence, and sick people, we need an answer. First off, let the government sell it. Secondly, take away the dealers? main source of income. Thirdly, give terminally ill people a chance without pain. Marijuana should be legal, it is so beneficial and has gotten a bad name from the people who don?t know practical uses for the plant. We need to legalize marijuana.

Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia




Keyword: Marijuana


Keyword: Medical Book

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia



Should Drugs Be Legalized?

Susan Neiburg Terkel



Keyword: Marijuana

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