Research Based Position Paper
Marijuana Laws in a Rapidly Changing American Society
The turbulent history of Marijuana prohibition in America is one filled with racial motives and propaganda, but surprisingly was not an issue before 80 years ago. In fact, when Ronald Reagan was a child, marijuana was still legal in his state (Guither). Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of scientific or medical process which classified it as a dangerous drug, and though government hearings was in turn made illegal. The actual story of Marijuana prohibition in America had nothing to do with any of that. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had agenda of their own to satisfy. The history of marijuana's criminalization is filled with racism, fear, yellow journalism and corrupt legislators. These laws were not only crafted on false premises but for the wrong reasons as well, and the time for change is ever drawing more near. Marijuana should be legalized in America because it has a positive history of industrial use around the world, the laws were crafted on false pretenses, prohibition is a waste of taxpayer money and Marijuana could also provide relief to patients with debilitating diseases.
Cannabis is a species of flowering plants that includes three distinct species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis Janisch. The substance we know today as Marijuana are the buds off the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains a higher concentration of the active ingredient in Marijuana, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. Hemp, on the other hand, is a common name for plants in the entire family of Cannabis, although the term usually only refers to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial use. Hemp is cultivated virtually everywhere in the world except for the United States, for its wide range of uses and ease of cultivation makes for a very beneficial harvest (Pojman, 33-34)
The history of Marijuana, or Cannabis Sativa, is crucial in investigating and understanding the laws regarding the plant today. Marijuana is actually one of the oldest cultivated plants in human history; its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C. (Guither). Scientists believe cannabis sativa originated in Central Asia and was probably first cultivated for its fiber. The first woven fabric was apparently of hemp; its other uses included food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. The first documented use of Marijuana was in the pharmacopoeia written by Shen Nung, hailed as one of the fathers of Chinese medicine (Christopher, Par. 1). Marijuana was used for many practical purposes throughout history, and has actually only been illegal for less than 1% of its time in use.
Anicent civilizations used cannabis to aid in everyday life, and without its use our species would have struggled to advance rapidly. The Chinese first crafted paper out of Cannabis and Mulberry in 100B.C. (Christoper), and its many uses led the profit Mohammed to permit its use to Moslems, although he forbid the use of alcohol. Moslems began producing hashish from the Marijuana plant for medical and social use, and used the plant to open Europe’s first paper mill in 1150A.D. Most of the paper in Europe over the next 850-year period was printed on Cannabis paper, including Bibles (Christopher). The Europeans caught on to the usefulness and ease of cultivation that came with Cannabis, so they began farming the plant as well. In 1563, Queen Elizabeth the First decreed that landowners with 60 acres or more must grow Cannabis on their farms or face a £5 fine. Shortly after in 1564, King Philip of Spain followed Queen Elizabeth’s lead and orders Cannabis to be grown throughout his Empire, which in that time extended from modern-day Argentina to Oregon (Christopher, Par. 3).
Cannabis served a great purpose in early America, for...
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