Cause and Effects of Marijuana Use and Legalization

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Erin Doris de Cesare
Frederick Miller
ENG 111, Sec. PI
22 Oct. 2013
Cause and effects of Marijuana Use and Legalization
Believe it or not, marijuana has been a part of human society for longer than history has been recorded by man. Dating as far back as the 6th millennium B.C., far before the Sumerians began recording history around 3500 B.C., marijuana had made it's first appearance into society as a source of food (“History of Marijuana”). By 1500 B.C., however, it was already being used for medical purposes, as we recorded Chinese Pharmacopeia that year (“Historical Timeline”). From this time up until 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act officially made marijuana illegal to possess in the United States, people had been allowed to freely and openly use marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes (Prater). The reasons for the initial criminalization of marijuana in the United States have been a topic of dispute for nearly one hundred years, and, in more recent times, many people have begun to support the legalization of marijuana for medical and even recreational purposes, and right rightfully so. Marijuana, unlike the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol, can be used for both recreational and medicinal purposes and its side effects can be easily compared to those of legal drugs. In addition, if marijuana were legalized, taxed, and regulated through a system like the one currently utilized by many states in the distribution of legal medical marijuana, it would only bring benefit to our country. The tax money generated, which could amount to multiple billions of dollars each year, could be put toward securing our nation from foreign threats and developing new alternative sources of energy that will inevitably be needed in the years to come. Marijuana, commonly referred to as “pot”, “weed”, ”ganja”, or “Mary Jane” on the streets, is a psychoactive drug (one that effects the mind) derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa (“Facts about”). For centuries, it has been used by humans for medicinal, and, beginning in sightly more recent times, recreational purposes(“Historical Timeline”). In its most common form, marijuana is composed of dried and shredded portions of the cannabis plat that can appear in colors ranging from green to brown or gray. In total, it contains around 400 chemical compounds, but the most important of these is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that is primarily responsible for producing the mind altering effects, or “high”, experienced by marijuana users (“Facts about”). As THS plays a major role in determining the psychological effects of the drug, its concentration is measured to determine the potency of a particular strain of marijuana. According to an article on the website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The THC content of marijuana has been increasing since the 1970s” and “For the year 2007, estimates from confiscated marijuana indicated that it contains almost 10 percent THC, on average” (“Facts about”). This is up from just around 1.5% THC in the ate 1970s (“Is Marijuana Significantly”). Marijuana is an extremely popular recreational drug in the U.S., up in the ranks with alcohol and tobacco, and, as a result, it is very likely that the average U.S. Citizen has seen a person using marijuana at some point in their life (“About Marijuana”). For those who haven;t seen a person in the act, however, the methods for the use of the drug must be understood before the issue of legalization can be rightfully considered. Unlike some drugs, including alcohol, marijuana can be used in a multitude of ways. The first and most common way that marijuana is used is trough the inhalation of the vapors produced by its burning, or smoking. Marijuana can be smoked wrapped in a cigarette paper as a joint, in a hollowed out cigar as a blunt, or out of a pipe or water pipe known as a bong (“InfoFacts: Marijuana”). For users that prefer not to smoke the drug, however, there are alternative...
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