13 December 2012
The Case for Marijuana Legalization
Cannabis, family Cannabaceae; species: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalia, and Cannabis sativa L., have been found to exist on every continent in this hemisphere. The use of Cannabis has existed for over ten thousand years, and is believed to have been used for much longer than its first recorded history. This paper will use the terms Cannabis and Marijuana interchangeably.
The Cannabis plant or Marijuana as much of society refers to it today happens to be one of the oldest crops cultivated by humans. Early human society??™s throughout the world who discovered the practical uses of Cannabis, often found five common uses for it including; hemp fibers, oil from seeds, seeds for food, medicine, and of course for its narcotic effects. Research found that most human cultures across time and distance viewed Cannabis as a gift from Divine Spirits. Cannabis was used during ceremonial rituals where it was burned as incense, ingested for deep meditating and heightened awareness of consciousness. Cannabis was also smoked for pleasure and the hemp made to be worn as ceremonial clothing. The use and cultivation of Cannabis has been recorded in history dating as far back as 600 BC, in the Zend-Avesta, a sacred book used by the peoples of India which spoke about the Hemp??™s intoxicating resin. In his pharmacopeia and early record of medicinal herbs, Chen-Nung, Chinese emperor and herbalist wrote about the medicinal uses of Cannabis, recording its effects on malaria, female disorders, and many other illnesses. Henry VIII required that for every sixty acres of land under tillage, that one quarter acre of Cannabis be cultivated for maritime purposes in England (Marijuana Today). The history and use of Cannabis which has been a part of the human culture for centuries seems to be of little concern when discussing the probable (and inevitable) legalization of the product in modern day United States.
The prohibition of Cannabis or Marijuana, as it was known by the Mexicans (derived from the Spanish pronunciation of the names Mary and Jane) began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 when criminal or unruly behavior was attributed to the use of the dried flowers. And yet today in the United States, Marijuana is rated the number one most popular recreational drug (Health & Life). The use of Marijuana is widespread throughout the States according to a report by The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); over 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana at some time in their lives. Approximately18 million people smoked Marijuana in the last year, and 10 million are regular users. A large number of these individuals are people that each of us work with or interact with each day; they are our neighbors, our bosses, our instructors, or coworkers. A larger number of us may know someone that has been arrested for a Marijuana related offense. As reported by Marijuana Today on an article published in The American University Press, 1 out of 6 people in the nation??™s correctional facilities are serving time for non-violent drug offenses. The US Government spends over 10 billion dollars annually in an attempt to keep Marijuana off the streets, part of the often criticizised war on drugs. The legalization and taxation of Marijuana would help to free up over crowded prison space allowing room for violent offenders like murderers, rapist, and thieves. Legalizing Marijuana would generate new tax and fee revenue from commercial sales and production. The State of California reports revenue of $ 14 billion from the production of its legalized medicinal Marijuana (marijuana today). At odds with individual state law that have a modern enlightened Marijuana statutes, Federal laws prohibit the use, sale, production or distribution of Marijuana in any form, yet 18 states in the US have legalized Marijuana laws.
Medical Marijuana laws enacted in the last 18 years or so, refer to the use of Cannabis under the instruction of a physician, and as stated before is now practiced in over a 15 states throughout the US. Marijuana as medicine has been proven effective in relieving the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy patients, as well as being effective in increasing appetite in HIV patients. In 1839, W.B. OShaughnessy published the benefits of Cannabis to aid in rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus. He also stated that a tincture of Marijuana and alcohol could be an effective analgesic. The medicinal properties of Marijuana are known to relieve symptoms of asthma, glaucoma, arthritis, Huntington??™s disease, and many other ailments experienced by humans. The legalization of Marijuana would allow for many other studies to be conducted regarding the medicinal use of this product. Because of the Federal laws, medical researchers have limited access to conduct beneficial research on this amazing plant provided to us by nature.
National, State and local community activist groups across the country are uniting in hopes to bring an end to the Marijuana prohibition. The NORML Women??™s Alliance is a non-partisan coalition of successful, high profile women who all support the legalization of Marijuana. This group includes actresses and singers like Alanis Morriesette, Bette Midler, Drew Barrymore, Melissa Etheridge and many more. These groups believe that the prohibition is wasting billions of dollars on something that the American people want, and that it violates states??™ rights. Further it allows for governments to seize assets and incarcerate average everyday citizens, ruining lives and labeling them as drug users and felons.
In the Arkansas General Election of 2012, Issue 5 was a referendum regarding the use of Medical Marijuana for the State. The issue lost the vote in a margin of 49 to 51 percent. In researching for this paper I spoke with a number of people that I work with or interact with about the subject of Marijuana legalization. Out of the 26 people I spoke with, 21 of them said that they would vote approving such legalization, 3 would vote against, and 2 of them declined to offer an opinion. Of the 21 people that said they would vote for the legalization, 17 of them were registered voters, but only 7 of that 17 took the time to cast a ballot during the election.
My opinion on the subject is that Marijuana should be, and eventually will be legalized. The medicinal uses for medical Marijuana will be of great significance in the coming decades. Final legalization will bring empty the prison system of those serving time for simple possession, give researchers the ability to conduct medical research on this amazing plant for new drugs and treatments. After conducting anecdotal research, speaking with a sample of my peers, and evaluating the current issues surrounding Cannabis it is my conclusion that in the not too distant future Cannabis should and will become legal either as a medical use or recreational use in all 50 states. The key is to get voters educated on the many benefits and practical applications of Cannabis which will benefit users and non users alike. . When considering the billions of dollars in wasted resources on law enforcements and interdiction policies, correctional costs and the ineffectualness of these polices, the many medical benefits that go undiscovered, and the hypocrisy of Cannabis use in the context of alcohol use from a recreational context, Cannabis legalization makes sense for the American people on a number of levels that will benefit our country.
???10 Most Popular Drugs.??? Health and Life. Admin 19 Jan 2010. Web. 12-10-12.
???Marijuana Since the Beginning of Time,??? History of Marijuana-MarijuanaToday.com.Timothy Miller. 1999. Web. 12-9-12
NORML. 60 years of Prohibition. Part I. National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws. 1997. Web. 12-7-12.
???Pros of Marijuana Legalization,??? Marijuana Today. Timothy Miller. 1999. Web. 12-9-12
Trebach, Arnold S. Legalize It Washington DC: The American University Press, 1993. Pages 13, 33. Retrieved from Marijuana Today. Expensive Drug War. 12-11-12