Professor Heil How America Will Benefit From Legal Marijuana
The first recorded use of the marijuana plant dates back to the before Christ era, however it wasn’t until the early twentieth century when the plant became a topic of controversy in the United States. Today, marijuana is found in the spotlight with more and more states becoming ‘medicinalized’, and the drug became completely legal in two states as of the 2012 election. Our society would benefit as a whole if the production of hemp, and the recreational use of marijuana were to be legalized. The medical benefit of marijuana is the most popular argument for pro cannabis, however there are a plethora of benefits for our nation that are superior to the medical benefits alone. These benefits include: weakening the gruesome and powerful Central and South American drug cartels, financial benefits through legal taxing of the drug, and a significant decrease in prisoners in a very cramped and expensive prison system. If marijuana were to become legal solely for medicinal purposes, our society would not receive these benefits as effectively compared to the full legalization, and production of hemp.
The earliest recorded use of hemp took place in 2700 BC, by the Chinese ‘father of medicine’ Shen Nung. It wasn’t until 1150 AD when hemp started being produced for paper by Muslims, and in 1494, England began producing hemp paper. The English introduced marijuana to the thirteen colonies in 1611, it was grown in Virginia (Christopher n.p.). Marijuana flew under the radar in America until the early twentieth century and the emergence of big time timber companies such as The Hearst Corporation. William Randolph Hearst made a cheaper paper product out of timber that began to replace the more expensive hemp paper in the late nineteenth century. Hearst’s cheap timber made paper would disintegrate after short periods of time, and the product was beginning to be dubbed unreliable as the twentieth century started progressing. At this time a Mexican bandit named Poncho Villa, who was insane and dangerous in the eyes of Americans, inhibited hundreds of miles of living trees that Hearst looked to profit off of. Hearst also owned a newspaper, which he used to push anti marijuana propaganda blaming the plant for Poncho Villa and his gang’s murderous and barbaric ways. In 1920, the plant was named ‘marihuana’ and was described as “weed with roots in hell” (Fairy n.p.). With fear of loosing his product Hearst continue to push this propaganda falsely blaming the plant for crimes that never even occurred. In 1937, congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act completely illegalizing the plant for production and recreational purposes (Fairy n.p.).
Even though marijuana was represented unjustly, the plant remains illegal in most states today. Hearst was a very influential man with a lot of money, and through persistence he was able to outlaw a harmless plant yet a threat to his timber company. Because of Hearst’s persistence and power we now live in a country where hundreds of thousands of people die every year from legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, yet a natural growing plant that has never taken the life of a single human is outlawed. This system yields outlaws because the plant is so commonly smoked among the American population. Fifty thousand smokers were arrested in New York City alone last year on low-level marijuana chargers under an ounce (Kaplan n.p). This number is directly caused by New York’s ‘stop and frisk policy’. The ‘stop and frisk policy’ allows a police officer to pat down any citizen without a reasonable suspicion or a warrant. This policy was put in place to remove handguns off the streets of New York City. This policy was successful in removing illegal guns from criminals, but at the same time the New York Police Department also discovered that a significant amount of people carry small amounts...
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