Drugs are major problem in our society today. Although the Canadian government has taken measures against drugs, in stiffening laws concerning the cultivation and trafficking of drugs and various media awareness programs, the problem continues to get worse. The government is exercising many options to control the problem or even solve the problem. It seems as if the “war on drugs” is a futile war or at least next to impossible to win. The government should consider using different options than ones they have used in the past.
The legalization of softer drugs like marijuana should be considered as one option. Some people may feel that this would lead to a sharp increase in its use, but it might be worthwhile because it would reduce the amounts of money spent on government enforcement of current laws, if taxed, it could increase our country’s revenue. The government could then focus on cracking down on the harder drugs like crack and heroine. The government should also legalize marijuana because of its several medicinal and industrial purposes. Legalizing hemp based products could create a whole new industry.
Fuels can be made by extracting oils from seeds and the hemp fiber could be sed to make ropes, clothing, or paper of a higher quality because of the strength of the fibers. 1 Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Canada. Four million Canadians have used marijuana, including 1. 4 million teenagers. 2 The large number of users can probably be explained by the drugs relatively low cost and light criminal consequences for dealing it; when compared with other drugs. Since 1969 about half a million people have been convicted for possession and use of the drug3.
The Canadian government spends $100 million a year enforcing drug laws. 4 The criminalization of marijuana does not prevent people from using it, in fact it makes the problem worse. People continue to consume marijuana, laws just make it harder and more expensive to acquire. Since the black market has no regulations the consumers of drugs have to trust their dealers. What’s particularly dangerous about black market drugs is that they can be mixed with other drugs or chemicals and can be contaminated with pesticides.
When banning the use of marijuana the government also bans drug paraphernalia that impedes the production and marketing of water pipes and ther more advanced technology that could reduce the harmfulness of the marijuana smoke. 5 Since the price of marijuana is higher than it would be if it were legalized it is less economical to eat, which is the best way to avoid the harmful smoke; this is because it takes two or three times more marijuana when eaten to produce the same high when smoked. The use of marijuana has steadily declined since 1979, and an Addiction Research Foundation survey in 1987 showed that four of every one hundred Canadians between the ages of 18 and 19 use marijuana on a daily basis.
The decline in the number of marijuana users since 1979 is probably a result of numerous drug awareness campaigns and the publication of other biased information on the subject. It could also be that hippies are getting older and more responsible. What is Marijuana? Marijuana refers to a mixture of leaves, stems and flowering tops of cannabis sativa8.
It has hallucinogenic and pleasure-giving effects on the user when smoked or eaten. Tetrahydrocannabinal (THC) is the non-narcotic psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. 9 Marijuana use has been documented as far back as 3000 BC in Central Asia and China, here it was used as a folk medicine. 10 By the 20th century the drug started to be used as a pleasure-inducing drug, and by the 1960s and 70s it was, after alcohol, the second most popular drug in North America. 11 Marijuana has never been proven to be physically addictive, but users develop a psychological dependency.
Users experience two phases of intoxication: initial stimulation, giddiness, and euphoria, followed by sedation and pleasant tranquillity. When marijuana is smoked the user feels the onset of the “high” within about seven seconds and within about 30 minutes when eaten. The drug brings the user to a relaxed and peaceful state, and sometimes to a euphoric state of mind. Hallucinations can occur when taken in high doses. The effects last between two to four hours after ingested, and the user can be left in a relaxed state for several hours after ingestion.
Short term memory is inhibited for the duration of the high, and users find it difficult to concentrate on complicated logical concepts like mathematics. Marijuana is not physically addictive, and in fact many users experience a reverse tolerance, this is where after long-term use smaller amounts of the drug eventually roduce the same high. 12 Some psychological dependence is possible. Studies have found that the psychological dependency is less than sugar or chocolate, but is more habit forming than anchovies. 3(Family Council on Drug Awareness) No studies have found conclusive evidence that marijuana causes any long-term physical or psychological harm.
Like smoking anything, however, long-term use can lead to higher risks of lung cancer. The health risk of smoking the marijuana can be eliminated by eating the plant, or can be reduced by smoking less of a more potent variety of marijuana. Family Council of Drug Awareness) According to leading doctors, nearly all drugs are toxic and have potentially lethal affects when taken in large amounts, but marijuana is not one of these drugs.
While over 100 thousand deaths annually are directly linked to acute alcohol poisoning no-one in the 4,000 years of marijuana’s documented use has ever died from a pot overdose14. Marijuana does have its negative affects, but they are quite pale in comparison to the social and health problems caused by alcohol. It therefore is illogical to prohibit the use of marijuana a drug has many more positive sides than lcohol or tobacco. Marijuana is said to cause an “amotivational syndrome”. 15 This is where the user is said to withdraw themselves from society and lose their ambition.
Scientific evidence supporting this theory is lacking. Scientists cannot conclude that these symptoms are caused by the use of marijuana or present in the user before they use marijuana. These symptoms are present in people who do not use marijuana. Many troubled people seek escape through the use of marijuana, and frequent use of marijuana may become one more in a serious of counterproductive behaviors of troubled individuals. Marijuana use is not limited to people of any identifiable group, social class or level of education; a cross-section of marijuana users is as diverse as the rest of the population.
The general assumption that marijuana users are lazy and lack ambition is just a myth. In a survey of a leading teaching hospital (no name given) it was discovered that over 60 percent of medical students were found to be marijuana user. 16 42,209 people were convicted of marijuana charges in the U. K. in 1991 and close to 90 percent of all drug offenses involved cannabis. 17 All this does is crowd the courts and the jails, and costs tax payers millions. If the government would legalize marijuana they could go after the more serious drugs like heroin and crack.
The U. S. government spends over a billion dollars on its “war on drugs,” when it could be making at least that much from legalizing and taxing it. 18 The average price of marijuana is about $10 per gram. These prices of marijuana are extremely inflated because of the risks of growing and selling it. Marijuana has very easy growing conditions and can be produced at far less cost than it is currently being sold for. Because of this the government could reasonably place high taxes on marijuana and till yield high profit.
Marijuana could be bought at convenient stores like tobacco is today, provide an temporary escape from the pains of everyday life, and bring in billions of dollars that the government could put to good use. The recreational use of marijuana does not create higher crime rates like most government policy makers seem to believe. The crime rates in Amsterdam (where marijuana is legal) are much lower than other cities in Europe and most major North American cities. 19 In fact the possession and trafficking of marijuana is the only crime most users of marijuana commit where marijuana is illegal.
The so called “War on Drugs is a complete failure. Prisons are filled with drug criminals costing the government millions, while drug use continues to rise. Legalizing and taxing marijuana and focusing their efforts against is a logical route for drug policy makers to take. The government could make money while putting the black market in disarray. The government could concentrate on the control of the drugs that are a serious threat to society. Marijuana as Medicine Marijuana can be used for several medicinal purposes. Marijuana is effective for treating AIDS-related wasting and the nausea from cancer chemotherapy. 0 Other rescribed drugs are used but are often expensive and don’t always work.
The drugs also have harmful side effects. Many of them cause hives, impotence, difficulty in breathing, tremors and rigidity and leukopenia. 21 Marijuana isn’t free of risks – it contains a number of toxins – but is far less toxic than many prescription drugs. Unlike many other drugs marijuana has no recorded cases of death from overdose. Since it is taken one puff at a time users can feel the effects as they go and regulate their intake according to their need.
Many chronic pain sufferers report that marijuana works better than other prescribed rug for their pain. The fact that marijuana can be taken a puff at a time with almost immediate effects is also a big advantage to chronic pain sufferers or people with spastic disorders like multiple sclerosis. While other prescription drugs can incapacitate a patient for the whole day, marijuana allows patients to administer the desired amount. Marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease that increases the pressure within the eye and eventually can lead to blindness.
Marijuana can reduce the pressure within the eye. 22 The downside however, is that is may also reduce blood low to the optic nerve, which can exacerbate the loss of vision. The reduced blood flow to the optic nerve is less serious to the side-effects of other leading conventional treatments. Beta-blocker eye drops, a more conventional treatment for glaucoma, can cause sluggishness and sometimes activates asthma attacks. 23 There are still too many skeptics who doubt marijuana’s ability as a medicine. A study was devised in 1996 to change the minds of such skeptics.
It was devised by the San Francisco General Hospital and it would have tested the benefits of smoking marijuana nd would eventually lead to the legalization of marijuana. The study was endorsed by the FDA (The Food and Drug Administration), but the federal government wouldn’t provide the marijuana for the study. 24 It seems as if the government was afraid that they were wrong about marijuana. The Industrial Uses of Hemp Industrial hemp looks a lot like its cousin, Cannabis sativa, but you can’t get high smoking it.
Industrial hemp lacks the psychoactive ingredient, THC, that is found in Cannabis sativa. 5 Industrial hemp is tall, lanky and is prized for its fibrous stalk and it oil-rich seeds. The cultivation of industrial hemp in North America is illegal because governments are afraid that people would grow their marijuana alongside their industrial hemp; which would make it harder to spot. The importation of finished hemp products is still legal in North America and the demand for them is rising at enormous rates.
Famous fashion designers like Calvin Klein are now using hemp in their clothing lines. Adidas reported sales of over 30,000 pairs for a line of shoes made partly from hemp last years. 6 Stores specializing in hemp products are become more and more common in North America. The worldwide trade of hemp products around the world was estimated at $100 million dollars in 1996. 27 Market analysts say that if the industry continues to grow at its current rate, the above figure could double or even triple within the next three years. The growth in the sales of hemp products is probably a sign of the eco-friendly times. The plant can produce as much as four times as much pulp per acre than trees and can grow with the broadest geographical range.
It can be grown without pesticides and does not need to be irrigated like cotton does. Hemp can also be used to produce a ubstitute for diesel fuel. Hemp products are not cheap though. Hemp shirts may sell for around $60 (American) and jeans may cost around $80 American. The high costs a consequence of the shortage of hemp. Only about a dozen countries can grow hemp legally. These include Russia and several Eastern European nations. 29 Hemp clothing manufactures end up having to go great lengths to find hemp suppliers. So if Marijuana isn’t Dangerous Why Isn’t Legal?
The biggest reason why marijuana is an illegal drug is that most of what we know about it is false information. According to Jack Herer and other marijuana experts the riminanization of hemp was part of a conspiracy involving DuPont, Harry J. Ansinger, then commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and other influential industrial leader like William Randolph Hearst and Andrew Mellon. 30 According to Herer the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, just as the decoricator machine was invented. With the decoricator machine, hemp would have been able to take over competing industries quite rapidly.
It would have strangled competing industries because 10,000 acres of land devoted to hemp would produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of the average forest. 1 William Hearst’s interest in preventing the industry from growing could be easily explained because he owned enormous timber acreage; land best suited for conventional pulp. The new competition created by hemp would have cost him millions and would lower the value of his land. It has even been suggested that Hearst popularized the term marijuana to create fear in the public.
DuPont involvement in the criminalization of marijuana is also quite easy to explain. At around 1937 DuPont was patenting a new sulfuric acid process for producing wood-pulp paper. 32 The companies own records state that wood-pulp products ccounted for more than 80% of all DuPont’s railway car loadings. 33 Harry Anslinger would be the man that DuPont used to help in his anti-hemp campaign. Harry Anslinger was appointed to the FBN by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who was at the time chairman of the Mellon Bank, which was also DuPont’s chief financial backer. 4 The DuPont-Mellon relationship went further than business, DuPont was also married to Mellon’s niece.
Herer’s conspiracy theory may be hard for some to swallow, but DuPont, Anslinger, Hearst, and Mellon all would be severely affected financially if Hemp hadn’t been criminalized. The motivation for DuPont, Anslinger, and Hearst was not related to any moral or health related issues. They fought to destroy an industry before that growing industry crushed them. The American Medical Association at the time tried to argue that there were significant medical benefits of hemp.
They lost out and all hemp related products were banned. Ever since marijuana was banned in 1937 biased research has been conducted and released in media awareness programs. No other example best represents this than a Partnership for a Drug-Free America television ad. In the television ad they first howed a normal human brainwave and second a flat brainwave from a 14-year-old on marijuana. Several researchers were disgusted by the ad and called-up TV networks to complain about the commercial. As a result of this the Partnership had to pull it from the air.
The commercial was revealed to be completely bogus, it was in fact the exact opposite of the truth. Marijuana actually increases alpha wave activity in the brain. Alpha waves are often associated with human creativity. 37 In other cases drug awareness groups and the government draw conclusions from insubstantial evidence and use them in their anti-marijuana campaigns. Most of the scary statistics and studies that the government uses in their anti-marijuana campaigns are based on the research of Dr. Gabriel Nahas.
In one of his experiments he suffocated monkeys with marijuana for five minutes at a time. He repeated over a period of six months and concluded that marijuana caused brain damage. Being suffocated with any kind of smoke would cause brain damage. 38 Conclusion If marijuana were legalized it could free up the clogged court system, saving time and money. It would allow the police to focus on more serious drugs. If it were legalized it could be taxed and the government could generate billions. The government would also generate money by taxing the manufactures and retailers of marijuana.
Hemp based products are already hot property in North America; even though they are expensive. If industrial hemp were legalized for cultivation in North America the industry would no doubt experience rapid growth and create many much needed jobs. It is illogical to ban marijuana and industrial hemp because they have so many positive uses. There aren’t many other plants that serve so many uses. Industrial hemp has several industrial purposes, marijuana can be used as medicine, and can also provide a emporary escape from the agonizing mechanical routine of life.
It has its downsides though; it’s mildly habit forming, it has carcinogenic ingredients and it can be a road hazard. Tobacco and alcohol, both which are legal, are much more addictive and have more long-term consequences on your body than marijuana does; it should also be noted that they have little medicinal or industrial purposes. Marijuana is a truly extraordinary plant which probably has many more uses yet to explore; it shouldn’t take much longer for policy makers to see that this plant is god’s greatest gift to man.