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Legalize The Herb Essay, Research Paper

The topic of marijuana legalization has been a topic of debate for many years. There are different sides to almost any issue. It is very confusing to determine who is telling the truth in today s society. One source is saying that marijuana is not any worse than alcohol (Herer 11), but at the same time others say that it can be detrimental to one s state of physical wellness. Personal discretion is a major factor that must be considered when dealing with this issue. I mean, one has to consider what is right for the individual. There are many positive aspects which have been proven to result from the use of marijuana, and it is less dangerous to the human body than many things that are legal in this country. As a result, I believe that there is no harm in the legalization of marijuana based on social and scientific factors.

I am taking this position because I think that marijuana is not comparable with hard core drugs such as cocaine and morphine, therefore, the underlying assumption that this is a paper that says the use of all drugs are okay must be dismissed. It is possible to overdose on cocaine and morphine, however, it is a proven fact that there has never been a proven case of a death due to a person taking too much marijuana into his system (Glasgow 29). Moreover, cocaine and morphine change the regulation of dopamine in the brain, which makes the person feel like these drugs are a necessity. Marijuana does not due this and this does not classify it as a drug that can be abused (Glasgow 25). These facts show that marijuana can be legalized without serious repercussions.

It has been proposed that the use of marijuana can be tied to serious health problems. What about brain damage, damage to the reproductive system, and the negative effects on the immune system? There was a study done in the 1970s by Dr. Robert Heath which claims to show brain damage in the rhesus monkey , but this study was reliable because of insufficient sample size (only four monkeys) and the misidentification of normal monkey brain structure as damaged (Herer 8). Also, in 1977 the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said that people who used marijuana a great deal did not experience trauma of the brain. In 1977, the American Medical Association (AMA) said marijuana use should not be a criminal offense (Glasgow 11). The findings that marijuana damaged the reproductive system and the immune system were dealing with situations in which the experimental animal was given near-lethal amounts of cannabinoids (i.e. the intoxicating part of marijuana). In fact, studies in 1978 and 1988 demonstrated that it might have positive effects on the immune system (Grinspoon 22). These health problems can be disregarded by the inaccurate and manipulated results such as the ones described and statements by JAMA and the AMA.

Accounts that marijuana actually has medicinal values have been proposed. Marijuana use by cancer patients has been shown to lessen sensations of nausea due to radiation treatment. Also, it can make AIDS and cancer patients have a greater desire to eat. Smoking marijuana can also halt worsening conditions brought on by glaucoma (Grinspoon 23). It can also be beneficial to those who suffer from migraines, tumors, and asthma. Eighty percent of asthma patients can be helped by marijuana use. Theopoline causes 50 deaths and brain death to 1,000 individuals annually. Let us weigh the options and apply a little logic to these facts. Do you think any one of these 1,500 people who fall into these two categories would rather have marijuana legalized or do it the legal way? Why do Americans have to die when there is a solution? Marijuana should be utilized for all medical purposes because it is the right choice.

The argument that marijuana is bad because it will hook or cause people to become addicted is foolish. Marijuana is less addictive than caffeine and the issue of such addiction is pale in comparison to that of smoked tobacco, with a 90% addiction rate (Herer 22). I think the issue of addiction has been disproved.

Another speculation is that marijuana use leads to the use of larger scale drugs. This can be refuted by a 1993 Rand Corporation investigation in which they found that states that legalized marijuana had less emergency room visits by users of cocaine and other large scale drugs (Glasgow 32).

When marijuana is legalized there is a greater amount of marijuana consumption but a reverse trend on alcohol, which actually goes down. This trend causes fewer fatal car crashes. It can be assumed from this data that alcohol is a larger factor in car accidents than marijuana. Legalizing marijuana causes less fatal car accidents to occur.

Some say that statistics are worth a million words. Such statistics were provided in Exhibit A. There are an average of 340,000 to 425,000 deaths by tobacco users, 150,000 attributed to alcohol consumption, 1,000 to 10,000 to caffeine, and 3,800 to 5,200 to unlawful drugs, but no deaths resulting from the use of marijuana. These numbers overwhelmingly support my point that marijuana is less dangerous than legal things, such as tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Should it be legal to drink a Coke and illegal to smoke a joint when there are less deaths resulting from marijuana use? Correct, one would probably have to drink a metric ton of Coke to die. This gigantic proportion of consumption leading to death is also true of marijuana. It has been shown that, in order to die, one must take in 40,000 times as much marijuana as one needs to get stoned (Grinspoon 14). This is literally impossible, and the idea that a person could perform this amazing task is absurd. Why then should marijuana be treated so harshly?

Maybe the use of marijuana would drive a person off the deep end causing him to run around shooting at people. Maybe not. A study taking the whole country into consideration shows that the upward trend of gun-related crimes is not due to the use of drugs. Most of these are committed by people who are in gangs, drug dealers, or those threatened with a gun or shot at at one time in their lives (Grinspoon 6). This shows that users are most often not perpetrators of this type of crime. Drugs are not a dominant factor in the trends of gun-related offenses.

A sales tax could be imposed on legalized marijuana, generating money for the government. An interesting look at such a proposal was provided in The 1996 Washington Hemp Initiative. The tax would be twenty dollars per packaged ounce. To make sure that tax money is received, there would be printed stamps that would be put on the bag of marijuana. The bag would be mutilated or destroyed if one tried to take off the such a stamp. This idea is feasible and offers the possibility of generating large sums of money that could be put back into the government.

References to the cultivation of the Earth s flora can be found in the Bible. Genesis chapter 1, verse 29 reads as follows: And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth. This verse says that it is okay to cultivate all plants, which I believe, also includes marijuana. Why then would it be wrong to harvest marijuana and put it to medical use? Is it wrong to heal? This statement also implies that the plants of the Earth should be utilized by man. If this was not true, then why would God have given man the seeds to plant? Therefore, the use of these plants to fulfill the needs of man is not wrong.

I think that I have provided enough information to show that marijuana has many positive effects and is not dangerous for human consumption. However, a strong point that must be stressed is that just because I believe that marijuana should be legalized doesn t mean that it is the right answer for everyone. This is where individual discretion enters into the formula. After all, we are talking about the issue of legalization not whether the use of marijuana is right for every person. I think the facts are undeniable: marijuana should be legalized in the United States of America.


Glasgow, Roger Allan. Marijuana Laws: A Need for Reform,” in “Arkansas Law Review” Vol. 22(340) pp. 359-375.

Grinspoon, Lester. “Marihuana the Forbidden Medicine.” Yale University Press, 1993.

Grinspoon, Lester. Marihuana Reconsidered,” 1977. Harvard University Press, 1993.

Herer, Jack. “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” Queen of Clubs/HEMP, 1993/1994.

The Bible. Genesis chapter 1, verse 29.

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