Legalization of Marijuana

Topics: Hemp, Cannabis, Drug addiction Pages: 5 (1757 words) Published: May 10, 2005
The Legalization of Marijuana
Marijuana is a plant, known as cannabis sativa and cannabis indica, which contains a psychoactive chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The effects of THC include disruption of psychomotor behavior, short-term memory impairment, intoxication, stimulation of appetite, antinociceptive, and antiemetic activities. Marijuana, the Mexican name given to cannabis is a mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the plant. Cannabis is a term that refers to marijuana and other preparations made from the same plant. Hemp is a form of cannabis, cannabis sativa L, which contains less than one percent THC; it is used to make clothing, paper, and building materials. Tobacco is smoked just like marijuana is smoked, rolled in paper or in a pipe. The only difference is that tobacco is legal and marijuana is illegal. The government spends billions each year on the war on drugs, yet it is still around. For people under the age of 21 it is much easier to get marijuana then it is to get alcohol. Although many primarily associate marijuana with its harmful side effects, in actuality there are many benefits from its use as well.

Marijuana was a large part of culture throughout the entire world, it has been around for thousands of years and still continues to grow. Hemp was a large help with early American settlers, the hollow stalk was used to make clothing, rope and paper. Hemp was used well before this though, the Chinese used it to make fishing nets and bow strings for their archers. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who are considered to be forefathers for America, both grew hemp. Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Early drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on paper that was made of hemp. During World War II, the US supply of hemp was cut off by the Japanese, and the US Army and the Department of Agriculture promoted the "Hemp for Victory" campaign, which encouraged farmers to grow hemp for the cause of the war. Hemp was also used in making sails and ropes for ships. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act prohibited the use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana and hemp in the United States.

It is said that marijuana is a "gateway" drug, and it will lead to harder drugs such as cocaine or heroin, though this is not a proven theory. "Over time, there has been no consistent relationship between the use patterns of various drugs" (National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Main Findings 1993). Marijuana is considered a gateway drug, because marijuana is the most widely used drug and it is usually the first drug that is encountered by people. Most drug users though, start usually before the legal age with alcohol and nicotine before they use marijuana. In the National Survey of Drug Abuse in 1997, the average age of people who first started to use marijuana was 17.2 years old, average age of people who first started to use alcohol was 16.1 years old, and the average age for people who first started to use cigarettes was 15.4 years old. I have talked to many people who have smoked marijuana for awhile now, and none of them have had the urge to try harder drugs. "While marijuana use-rates have increased in the Netherlands, cocaine use-rates have not - indicating that separation of the ‘hard' and ‘soft' drug markets has prevented a ‘gateway effect' from developing. In 1992, about 1.5% of 12 to 18 year-olds had ever tried cocaine and only .3% had used it in the past month" (Key Data: Smoking, Drinking, Drug Use and Gambling Among Pupils Aged 10 Years and Older). Netherlands is where marijuana is legal and can be purchased and smoked in government regulated coffee shops.Gentile 3

Marijuana is said to be addicting, and that can be true in some respects; however, marijuana is not physically addicting. In reality though, anything can be addicting and I do not think this is a valid argument. Marijuana is said to contain more than 400 chemicals, proving...

Bibliography: 1. de Zwart, W.M. et al, Key Data: Smoking, Drinking, Drug Use and Gambling Among Pupils Aged 10 Years and Older, Utrecht: Netherlands Institute on Alcohol and Drugs (1994).
2. Drug War Facts
3. Jones, R.T. et al, "Clinical Studies of Cannabis Tolerance and Dependence," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 282:221-39 (1976).
4. National Survey Results on Drug Use, from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1993, Volume I, Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse (1994).
5. Preliminary Estimates From the 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1994).
6. Rubin, V., "Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis," pp 1-18 in S. Cohen and R.C. Stillman (eds), The Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana, New York: Plenum Medical Book Company (1976).
7. State Prison Expidentures
8. US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," [Docket #86-22], (September 6, 1988), p. 57.
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