Marijuana Legalization Research Paper

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Should Marijuana be legalized in the U.S.?
Grass, skunk, kush, mary jane, chronic: just a few of the slang terms for Marijuana. Marijuana (of Indian origin) is the brown, green and gray assimilation of dried leaves, seeds, and stems. This plant is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States of America, and the third most used recreational drug behind only tobacco and alcohol. It has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use (“Medical Marijuana”). The drug comes from the Hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa), which contains hundreds of compounds, the main psycho-active one being THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) (“Marijuana History”). Shortly after this natural compound enters the body, it binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brains. When THC reacts with the cannabinoids, Dopamine (the chemical that allows humans to feel happiness) is let out in the brain. THC helps to reduce pain and nausea, and to stimulate the appetite. In some cases, it can also reduce aggression. Large doses of THC are known to result in the marijuana "high", which is an altered perception of time and space that comes with feelings of happiness, fatigue, or both in some cases. A Marijuana high usually lasts two to three hours, during which a wide range of effects may occur, varying both in intensity and Hawkins 2

quality. The usual, most noticeable effect is intensification of sensation and increased clarity of perception (Johnson 3). Colors seem much brighter, patterns are more evident, sounds and music have more depth, taste and smell are intensified (food develops a rich variety of tastes), and a variety of different thing are noticed that have never been noticed before while under the influence.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a joint (marijuana cigarette), or in a pipe. It is also smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled crushed up or grinded Marijuana. Blunt smoke is seen as more harsh on the lungs, because the user is smoking tobacco along with the marijuana. Cannabis can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. Hashish and hash oil are more concentrated forms of the substance which are also smoked. Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor (Minamide 2). The same hemp plant we have today has been used around the world for thousands of years for many different reasons. Between 7000 - 8000 BCE, the first fabric was woven from dried hemp. Around 6000 BCE hemp seeds were used as food in China. In 2727 BCE, the Chinese documented the use of cannabis as a medication to treat a variety of health problems. In 1500 BCE, Scythians cultivated the plant and actually left seeds in royal tombs as offerings. In India, the medicine was named one of the five sacred plants in the Hindu’s Arthava-Veda . In 600 B.C., the euphoric properties of Marijuana were documented and talked about in the Jewish Talmud. In Islam followers are forbidden to drink alcohol, so smoking marijuana became very popular among Muslims by the 1200’s (Gale 1). From 1000 to 1500 Hemp was influencing the new world; laws in Jamestown, VA required farmers to grow hemp on their plantations. The Hawkins 3

early presidents were also known to handle and use the plant. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew the plant on their farms. In the 1800’s, medicines with cannabis bases could be found in many pharmacies. In 1908, Henry Ford constructed a T model truck completely out of Hemp based plastic. The car was fueled with Hemp ethanol. (Gale 2) As you can see, the Cannabis Sativa plant has had many different uses over many years. The story of marijuana's prohibition goes back as far as the early 1900's. The Mexican revolution was the reason why many Mexicans to migrated to the southwestern portion of the United States. The...
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