Marijuana has been vilified in America over the past 70+ years. Despite its many practical uses, medicinal and industrial, our Federal government insists on maintaining the status quo that the growth, possession and use of marijuana is criminal despite the evidence that the legalization of marijuana would have a positive influence on America. In this paper I will discuss the history of marijuana, the industrial uses of hemp, the prohibition of marijuana, the economic impact prohibition has on America, the effects of marijuana use on the mind and the body, marijuana for medical use, and how legalization of marijuana would have a positive influence on America. Although I support the legalization of marijuana I do not support the legalization of other Schedule I drugs, therefore this paper is not about the legalization of all drugs. Marijuana, as most people commonly know it, is really a plant called hemp, or "cannabis sativa." There are other plants called hemp, but cannabis hemp is the most useful of these plants. "Hemp" is any durable plant used since prehistory for many purposes, and cannabis is the most durable of the hemp plants. The cannabis plant also produces three very important products that other plants do not, seed, pulp, and medicine. The cannabis sativa plant grows as weed and cultivated plant all over the world in a variety of climates and soils. Marijuana has been used throughout history; in 6000 B.C. cannabis seeds were used as food in China; in 4000 B.C. the Chinese used textiles made of hemp; the first recorded use of cannabis as medicine in China was in 2727 B.C.; and in 1500 B.C. the Chinese cultivated Cannabis for food and fiber. This time line goes on and on right through today. It is thought that hemp was first brought to the New World in 1545 by the Spanish; it was introduced in Jamestown by the English in 1611 where it became a major commercial crop alongside tobacco and was grown as a source of fiber. Our forefathers grew hemp; in fact it was the principal crop at Mount Vernon and it was a secondary crop at Monticello. There are recorded notes made by George Washington regarding the cultivation and harvesting of hemp. These hemp crops of course were grown for industrial use only and there is no indication that our forefathers were using their crops recreationally. Today the hemp grown for industrial purposes have extremely low levels of THC Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol delta 9-THC, the active component in cannabis therefore it is impossible to get high from such hemp grown for industrial use. During the Colonial Era Americans were legally bound to grow hemp. During the Second World War the federal government subsidized hemp and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program. Hemp is extraordinary in its diversity. There are over 25,000 different uses for the hemp plant. Because of how quickly hemp can be cultivated it is the Earth’s number one biomass resource. Hemp’s uses include but are certainly not limited to fuel; food, hemp seeds provide an incredible source of protein-not only for people but for birds who seek out hemp seeds which have been mixed with other seeds; paper; textiles, for example canvas, paper, cloth, rope; paint; detergent; varnish; oil; in; medicine; and building materials. Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, or petroleum including plastics can be made from hemp. In fact, hemp plastics are biodegradable.
Besides its diversity, the practicality of utilizing hemp to its fullest potential is clear. Trees take from 50 to 100 years to grow; hemp’s growth cycle is 120 days. It is estimated that if the hemp pulp paper process reported by the USDA in 1916 were legal today it would soon replace 70% of all wood paper products. Despite all of its proven uses, all of which are beneficial to the planet Earth, the growth of industrial hemp in the United States remains a...