Legalization of Marijuana
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Prior to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, marijuana was widely used as a medicine for doctors, and as a recreational drug. However, in the decades, since it has been given a level one drug status, it resulted in harsh penalties for anyone found to be in possession of this drug. It was firstly known to be used around 2500-2700 BC in ancient China, where people found it mildly euphoric, when ingested, and beneficial as a general pain reliever. It spread throughout the world, and since then was used in every society. It has firstly appeared in North America, when the British colonies were formed, once again used by anyone wishing to partake. One can see the fact that now the opinions on this plant have drastically changed from the early 1900’s.One of the reasons is that businessmen at that time did not want to compete with the hemp industry. Regardless of the reason, The U.S. government, 75 years ago, decided that it knew what was best for the people it served, ignoring the potential of all the uses of this plant. Back then, “Popular Mechanics magazine (1938) touted hemp as “the new billion dollar crop,” stating that it “can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane.”(Small & Marcus 2002) The potential was limitless and could have taken the United States of America even farther than it has come in economically and industrially.
As the decades went by, the criminalization of marijuana became stronger, as the government fought to get rid of it in the American culture. However, the harder the government has fought to eradicate marijuana, the more popular it has become, which was mainly due to its many-purposed use. Even as a drug, it offers a feeling of euphoria nothing else can match. It relieves pain, helps people sleep, and even increases focus and creativity. It is less harmful than cigarettes, alcohol and even prescription drugs. This paper contends that the criminalization of marijuana was a fallacy and that it needs to be eradicated itself.
The American Medical Association has tried to argue the benefits of marijuana, and have found it to be safer, even than prescription drugs. The most profound activist for marijuana's use as a medicine is Dr. Lester Grinspoon, author of Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine, where he speaks of the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
"The only well-confirmed negative effect of marijuana is caused by the smoke, which contains three times more tars and five times more carbon monoxide than tobacco. But even the heaviest marijuana smokers rarely use as much as an average tobacco smoker."(Grinspoon 1993)
Once again, the facts fell on deaf ears, people to take and often abuse synthetically manufactured prescription drugs. Dr. Grinspoon found marijuana to be safer that prescription drug. This was nineteen years ago and has helped lure 16 states and the District of Columbia to pass medical marijuana use laws, and yet still nothing but an old-fashioned rhetoric from the powers that be. It is time for people to open their eyes and see the world of today. People need to provide medicine that works without battling the body and harming it further. Medicine people can grow by themselves and administer when needed. There are many doctors that support this feeling, and if they are wrong, then nobody will know the truth.
The truth, as always, lies in the facts, and this case is not different. Marijuana's medicinal value is a proven fact; it relieves pain, it calms a hyper temperament, it relieves nausea and induces appetite. This is not a speculation; these are cold hard facts, rendered after thousands of years of research.
According to a paper written by E. Small and D. Marcus called, Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America, marijuana is a major cash crop for 39 states.
“It was estimated that 8.7 million marijuana plants were harvested in 1997, worth $15.1 billion to growers and $25.2 billion on the retail market (the wholesale value was used to compare marijuana to other cash crops). Marijuana was judged to be the largest revenue producing crop in Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and one of the top five cash crops in 29 other states.” (Small & Marcus 2002)
When one puts those numbers into a perspective, it is hard to imagine an economic downfall like the one that shook the United States in 2008. One has to decide on whether he/she opts for reverting from spending billions of dollars per year on an imaginary war to generate billions of dollars per year on one’s largest cash crop. One collects billions of dollars; the drug cartels now claim and save the billions of dollars one currently spend to fight. As a result, one has a healthy new income and come closer to pushing out the foreign cartels, wreaking havoc on streets.
With many uses and demand, it seems pointless to continue to fight on the wrong side of this issue. The money saved is just a drop in the bucket from what can be generated from these plants, and all of the products they can produce. If one opens up the farming, manufacturing, marketing and selling of cannibis sativa and all of its products, one could generate the economic stability needed to undo all of the damage done to this world over the past 200 years. One could create everything needed locally and allow the planet to regenerate itself for future generations. Anyone that invests in the stock market knows that when the rewards outweigh the risks, one jumps on it, so the same can be applied here.
If, after 75 years, the masses are not convinced, then give up the ruse and leave this portion of people’s lives to be self-governed. When the country is split down the middle, and there is no clear majority, then cannot tell the other the half of what is right and wrong. This is the subject that should be an individual’s problem, if someone wants to smoke marijuana to ease his/her pain or relax, nobody has the right to determine his/her health and well-being.
The opposition will tell one that marijuana is a drug that leads to addiction and health problem. However, in the decades of that belief, they have never been able to provide one piece of concrete evidence that supports that claim. There are many people who use marijuana as recreation, and not in order to use harder drugs. As voiced by former US Surgeon General,
“Much of their (US drug-policy leaders) rhetoric about marijuana being a “gateway drug” is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to do harder drugs.”
Even within their own cabinet, there is an opposition from differing opinions. So, one can set it right, legalize marijuana, tax it, and give the economy a hit it desperately needs. The amount of money received from taxing marijuana would be a significant boost to the struggling economy. In a Times Magazine (April 2009), Joe Klein reported that, “with marijuana being estimated as the biggest cash crop in California with annual revenues reaching $14 billion, a 10% tax would net $1.4 billion a year.” Now, there are ten states, where marijuana is estimated by the number one cash crop and twenty nine others, where it is top five. (Small & Marcus)
According to Senator Jim Webb in a 2009 Parade Magazine cover article, “The United States possesses 5% of the world's population with 25% of its prison population with corrections running at about $68 billion a year.” The correctable thing is that 45% of the prison population is there on non-violent marijuana charges. By changing the laws, they can drastically cut down on the amount money wasted on over-populated prisons. Rating marijuana with cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines has been an extremely expensive adventure, but the ride needs to be over now. One does not have to be for legalizing to see that the aim will never justify the means in the war on this drug. The benefits far outweigh the consequences, so it is time for the United States’ government to do the right thing and quit grasping for straws. Marijuana is a natural substance that provides many resources and useful products. So, one should take a stand today and vote for the legalization of marijuana, do what is right for the future of this country. According to Denver Post, the states of Washington and Colorado will have a question on the ballot this autumn to gauge whether or not people want marijuana to be legal, even without a doctor’s note. To achieve this, even one of those states will open the door other states to follow and allow the legalization sect to gain a louder voice in Washington, D.C. Perhaps, then people can open the door far enough to push through the legislation, required to induce the economy with billions of dollars per year. To legalize or not to legalize is an issue that resembles the abortion debate; however, they are on the opposite sides of their respective arguments. One is legal, and one is not yet; both are hotly contested arguments dealing with choice or no choice. The right to choose, that has always been the issue at the root of the legalization debate. Government has to represent people’s choice, but not to choose for people. If government can decide on what medicine or even recreational activities one should take, then it is evident that it is the violation of civil liberties. It is in every person's right to choose.