A major topic that has come up recently that is considered a heated debate is the proposal of the legalization of Marijuana. Marijuana is a well-known drug with hundreds of different names. Yet one thing is for sure, no matter what happens this year, the legalization of Marijuana and the medical purposes will be brought up for years to come. Very few people know about the history of Marijuana, where it came from, how it became illegal, why it became illegal, and the medical purposes for it along with the clinical studies to back up these discoveries.
“Cannabis is more than just a simple weed; it has many different sub species with thousands of uses in industry, medicine and food. Cannabis has been used for more than 5000 years by man as far as we can tell” (Ball). During this time period, the Chinese Emperor Fu was recognized for bringing civilization and refinement to China. He also admired the plants Ying and Yang for the medicinal properties. “It was later put into Chinese medical scriptures as a cure for more than 100 ailments. India, Egypt, Persia (The Middle East) and Greece have documented its medicinal and industrial uses before the year AD. The Romans started to craft rope and cloth out of the stem fibers, use the seed for oils and feed livestock” (Ball). Marijuana was and still is seen as a fast growing and tough crop that has too many abundant uses to just disregard, so farming spread throughout much of the Roman Empire and into Europe where the plant was cultivated for hundreds of years as the main agricultural and industrial crop. With foreign countries enjoying all the benefits and remunerations of Cannabis, it is no shock that when the Europeans started to travel and relocate, they brought it with them. “[Cannabis] arrived in America with the European colonists in the 1600s and 1700s, becoming such a good export crop for fiber that [in] the 1700s there was a tax penalty if a farm in the colonies did not grow hemp.” Marijuana was the cheapest, most sustainable, and valuable crop for the new world. During the 1800’s a medical version of cannabis called “Indica” was seen with a growing popularity in Europe and a mere fifty years later it was entered into the US Pharmacopeia “(an official public standards-setting authority for all prescription medicines)” (Nature Made) and became an “over the counter drug for a wide range of ailments such as cholera, rabies, alcoholism, opiate addiction, leprosy, gout, and insanity” (Ball). During the 1900’s the government started restricting any and all narcotics including, but not limited to, all pharmaceuticals, tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. This was supposedly to reduce the risk of over dose on poisonous drugs like heroin and cocaine.; however, marijuana has not yet been proven to be poisonous. “A year after the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was set in place a study by New York City was conducted and released results 6 years later (1942) declaring cannabis not to be as dangerous as they had originally thought” (Ball).
The government, when it came to Marijuana, was unclear about their stance and didn’t comprehend the repercussions of some of the laws set in place. This was seen more clearly in 1976, when Robert Randall won a court case against the federal government. He was the first man to medically require cannabis of which he received from the government stock. After the decision, others started requesting the same treatment for various medical ailments, so the government created The Compassionate Use Program to distribute Marijuana to people who were considered pathologically dependent. The program has become stricter on who they treat and what they treat them with (Compassionate).
Even though marijuana is illegal, people can get their hands on it if they want to in large due to the heavy influence of the drug cartels. An underlying and often unthought-of reason Marijuana might be illegal is because it could cause an intense struggle with the drug cartels who are attempting to sell Marijuana illegally in the United States. If Marijuana was legal because of the federal government, then “grow shops” would start appearing everywhere in the United States to meet the demand of all of their customers. These shops would be a legal way for people to purchase cannabis and thus leaving all the dealers to fend for themselves. “Drug cartels have had a history of being violent between themselves, and if these shops take their business, it could possibly erupt into a turf war of epic proportions. Grow shops will become the target of the cartels as they attempt to eliminate their competition” (Pangerl).
Those that research and study the medical benefits of marijuana have stumbled across life changing results, especially for those who have different medical conditions such as Daphne. “Daphne doesn’t smoke Marijuana to get a buzz. For this middle-aged area woman, smoking pot is about getting back some of the quality of life that arthritis and other health problems took away. One small marijuana brownie a day helps take away the pain. ‘I hate the fact that I’m breaking the law, but I have to have quality of life. Why go on if there’s no quality of life?’ she said” (Weston). Then there is the opposing view that since Marijuana can help cure and/or treat different symptoms and even help slow down the rapid growth of several forms of cancer, people might assume it is okay to use every day somewhat like a multi-vitamin. (Pagnerl)
Some studies have also shown that marijuana has rendered some people inoperable of heavy machinery such as vehicles. Marijuana helps relieve stress which in turn slows down the nervous system which is used to make quick decisions and perform everyday tasks. (Jelonu) “Studies of the crash risk associated with marijuana have produced mixed results says Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety” (NPR). In many arenas, alcohol and marijuana are similar, especially when it comes to driving a vehicle after usage; however, marijuana cannot be detected by a breathalyzer but by a blood test. Police officers currently do not have the technology needed to perform such test. (NPR) In California, this has led to police officers making calls based on their own judgment, but such a decision cannot be help up in a court of law.
Some studies have showed support for a relationship between marijuana use and different types of violence, including relationship violence (Moore); however, no conclusive correlation has been linked between Marijuana use and violence among adults. This correlation seems to be stronger in regards to adolescents (Copeland). Several studies have led the authors of a popular blog to conclude that “marijuana use did not increase the odds of any type of aggression” (Green). “Prohibition does not and will not stop consumers from doing what they desire, and it most definitely does not stop traffickers from producing and/or selling it. Due to the black market’s nature, Marijuana is sold for a price that is abnormally high. “The powerful effects of drug addiction [result in] users [whom are more likely] to commit crimes in order to fund their addiction” (Marijuana Today). Dozens of people arrested for marijuana usage do not remember what they were doing before the arrest, during the arrest, or why they were arrested. This is in part due to the transformation and disfigurement of neurons in and around the brain. Using marijuana can result in “reduced concentration and memory as well as distorted perceptions of time, space, and distance” (Better Health Channel).
Just as in the case for a ban on hand weapons, not all people follow the rules, especially when they are based on a set of moral beliefs. “By taking a ‘moral’ stand against recreational drugs, or fighting the evils caused by the illegal drug trade they increase their popularity amongst constituents” (Marijuana Today).
Finally, to understand the effects of Marijuana on a culture, one must take an adventure to a land far away where Marijuana is legal. Just because something becomes legal, thousands of people assume that a spike in usage will result, however, in the case of Holland, this is not so. “Legalization may not cause a spike in use as critics claim. American adolescents use Marijuana twice as much as their counter parts in Holland where Marijuana is legal” (Marijuana Today). How could this be? Why would the people in Holland use marijuana less frequently and less per capita when it is legal in their country? Mr. Gray answers this with a startling statement, “Because they have succeeded in making pot boring. Since we glamorize it by making it illegal, we have problems that Holland doesn’t have” (Weston).
Whatever doctors and politicians may argue, it comes down to the loss of personal freedom. Every country has a responsibility to respect individual free will and the right of self-determination. Obesity has been linked to several health problems and is considered dangerous, yet very few if any countries have limited how much each individual can eat. As two states, Washington and Colorado, have already legalized marijuana, it is only a test of time to see how these two states end up and whether or not other states join them. (Barnett)