An Argument for the Legalization of Marijuana
A part of why marijuana should be legalized has to do with why it was criminalized to begin with. Some of the primary reasons marijuana was criminalized were racism, fear, protection of corporate profits, and yellow journalism. In the early 1900’s Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution were affecting the western states. Marijuana use was prevalent with the Mexicans and many with influence in the U.S. used the distaste (racism) for what was going on to pursue anti marijuana legislation. This racism was accompanied by a good bit of yellow journalism. William Randolf Hearst, a newspaper giant and heavy investor in timber, gave assistance to Harry Anslinger the head of the new Bureau of Narcotics by fabricating stories about Mexicans and marijuana in order to sell papers and promote anti-marijuana sentiment (Guither, n.d.). It was during this time that several states enacted laws restricting or prohibiting the use of marijuana, also known as hemp or cannabis, as early as 1913. On a national level it was effectively made illegal on October 2, 1937 with the passing of the Marijuana Stamp Act. Of the many reasons marijuana was criminalized; racism, greed and yellow journalism, marijuana being harmful was not among them. Marijuana, which has beneficial uses as cloth, paper and medicine among others, is less destructive to the consumer ("Marijuana vs. Alcohol", n.d.) than alcohol and should be decriminalized.
With a history spanning thousands of years the use of marijuana in one form or another is varied. According to Wright (2011) “Evidence of the use of hemp to create cloth or rope has been found in an ancient site in Taiwan dating back to the Stone Age” (p. 460). Many early civilizations also used it for medicinal purposes. According to "42.0 Milestones in The History of Marijuana" (n.d.), "by 2727 BCE, the Chinese documented the use of cannabis as medication to treat a variety of health problems” (Cannabis Seeds Used as Food). Marijuana’s various uses continue into colonial times were a law passed that required famers in Jamestown to grow hemp (Farmers in America Required to Grow Hemp) while President Washington, primary, and Jefferson, secondary, also grew this crop (Presidential Marijuana). Production and use continued relatively unhindered until the early 1900’s until, for all intents and purposes, it became total criminalized by the Marijuana Stamp Act of 1937 despite all of its beneficial uses.
No one argues that there are many benefits to production and industrializing hemp but what is not as widely known is how beneficial it can be not only for the environment but also the body. As discussed by Kolosov (2009) “Its tensile strength of up to 80,000 pounds per square inch is twice that of cotton, but unlike cotton, it requires no chemical pesticides” making is safer for the environment. The production of hemp paper is also safer for the environment as it does not require the use of toxic chemicals in the paper making process like traditional paper does. Combine that with the fact that as a crop you can turn over hemp faster and cheaper than trees. A couple of additional benefits are that it lasts three times as long as paper made from wood and it does not yellow like traditional paper (Kolosov) making it ideal of documents of any kind. With so much upside the only real question or debate seems to be is how does marijuana usage affect one’s body and mind?
When compared to alcohol, a more socially acceptable substance, the effects of marijuana are mild. In fact several states have passed legislation in the past several years allowing the use medical marijuana. Marijuana gained popularity as a way to treat chronic pain during the Vietnam War. Marijuana is also used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea (Vickovic, 2011). The medicinal properties of an alcoholic beverage have been...