Legalization of Marijuana

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Clint Johnston
8/5/11

Legalization of Marijuana

Marijuana is a very well known and controversial issue in society today. Although many claims have been made about cannabis in recent history, the truth is slowly starting to resurface. Marijuana could not only benefit our economy and industry but as well as our medical field. Unfortunately, these truths are under criticism due to the stereotypical view of what people view as the typical “pot smoker.” This biased perception of a lazy and unmotivated America is the result of over seventy years of propaganda and lies spread by private interests who needed cannabis illegal for their own personal gains. We must look at cannabis with an unbiased view with only the intention of bettering our country in mind. Utilizing cannabis for medicinal purposes is not a new find. In fact, written references to use medical marijuana date back 5,000 years. “Western medicine experimented with marijuana’s medical properties in the mid-1800s, and by the beginning of the 20th century, physicians had written more than 100 papers recommending its use for a variety of disorders” (NORML). These disorders include pain relief, nausea, glaucoma, and movement disorders. It is also used as a highly effective appetite stimulant of which helps patients that had HIV/AIDS or cancer patients going through chemotherapy. Today, thousands of patients are able to use marijuana as an efficient method of treatment for their ailments. This is possible because fourteen state governments across the country have recognized marijuana’s effective healing properties and legalized its consumption for medicinal purposes with the consent of a licensed physician. Unfortunately, these patients are at the mercy of the federal government and its authority. One of the main positive impacts that the legalization of marijuana would produce is the reintegration of hemp into our society, and more importantly in current times, our economy. Hemp is a plant that is grown for industrial use only; in fact, hemp contains less that 1% THC and causes no “high” when smoked while marijuana plants can contain 10-20% THC. The hemp plant looks very similar to the cannabis plant but instead of having a short bushy form, hemp can have stalks up to 25 feet high. Though it cannot be abused as a recreational drug, it is related to the cannabis plant and is therefore also prohibited. From an industrial standpoint, hemp provides many advantages over a many existing resources that America utilizes. The most common use for hemp is the production of textile-based products. Hemp fibers are extremely strong, so that makes it perfect for the production of many goods like paper, fabric, and rope. “Hemp produces a higher gain per acre than cotton and has a growing cycle of only 100 days instead of 160.” “Hemp seeds provide more protein than soy”, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can make four times as much paper from an acre of marijuana than an acre of trees (CannabisNews). Perhaps the most important part of hemp is its capability to produce a large amount of cellulose. Cellulose is a compound that, in more recent years, has been converted into a biofuel called cellulostic ethanol. This biofuel can power everything that gasoline currently does and is being produced most commonly in the form of “energy crops;” mostly corn and cotton. Hemp has an advantage though, because it can be produced more frequently than cotton, and it “yields four times the amount of cellulose you can get from a corn stalk” (CannabisNews). In today’s economic situation, hemp would be a huge revenue creator. Currently, the United States imports hemp from countries like Canada and China, who have no laws banning the cash crop. Not only would domestic hemp production stop the excessive but steady stream of American dollars into foreign industry’s pockets, but it would generate a massive amount of jobs for otherwise unemployed Americans. In these times of...
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