Is the illegalization of marijuana valid?

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB, October 1996

download word file, 6 pages 4.1

Downloaded 112 times


The debate over the legalization of Cannabis sativa, more

commonly known as marijuana, has been one of the most heated

controversies ever to occur in the United States. Its use as a

medicine has existed for thousands of years in many countries

world wide and is documented as far back as 2700 BC in ancient

Chinese writings. When someone says ganja, cannabis, bung,

dope, grass, rasta, or weed, they are talking about the same

subject: marijuana. Marijuana should be legalized because the

government could earn money from taxes on its sale, its value to

the medical world outweighs its abuse potential, and because of

its importance to the paper and clothing industries. This action

should be taken despite efforts made by groups which say

marijuana is a harmful drug which will increase crime rates and

lead users to other more dangerous substances.

The actual story behind the legislature passed against

marijuana is quite surprising.

According to Jack Herer, author of

The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the acts bringing about the

demise of hemp were part of a large conspiracy involving DuPont,

Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of

Narcotics (FBN), and many other influential industrial leaders

such as William Randolph Hearst and Andrew Mellon. Herer

notes that the Marijuana Tax Act, which passed in 1937,

coincidentally occurred just as the decoricator machine was

invented. With this invention, hemp would have been able to

take over competing industries almost instantaneously.

According to Popular Mechanics, '10,000 acres devoted to hemp

will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest]

pulp land.' William Hearst owned enormous timber acreage so his

interest in preventing the growth of hemp can be easily explained.

Competition from hemp would have easily driven the Hearst

paper-manufacturing company out of business and significantly

lowered the value of his land. Herer even suggests popularizing

the term 'marijuana' was a strategy Hearst used in order to create

fear in the American public. Herer says 'The first step in creating

hysteria was to introduce the element of fear of the unknown by

using a word that no one had ever heard of before... 'marijuana''.

DuPont's involvement in the anti-hemp campaign can also

be explained with great ease. At this time, DuPont was patenting

a new sulfuric acid process for producing wood-pulp paper.

According to the company's own records, wood-pulp products

ultimately accounted for more than 80% of all DuPont's railroad

car loadings for the 50 years the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. It

should also be said that two years before the prohibitive hemp tax

in 1937, DuPont developed nylon which was a substitute for hemp

rope. The year after the tax was passed DuPont came out with

rayon, which would have been unable to compete with the

strength of hemp fiber or its economical process of

manufacturing. 'DuPont's point man was none other than Harry

Anslinger...who was appointed to the FBN by Treasury Secretary

Andrew Mellon, who was also chairman of the Mellon Bank,

DuPont's chief financial backer. Anslinger's relationship to

Mellon wasn't just political, he was also married to Mellon's niece'


The reasoning behind DuPont, Anslinger, and Hearst was

not for any moral or health related issues. They fought to prevent

the growth of this new industry so they wouldn't lose money. In

fact, the American Medical Association tried to argue for the

medical benefits of hemp. Marijuana is actually less dangerous

than alcohol, cigarettes, and even most over-the-counter

medicines or prescriptions. According to Francis J. Young, the

DEA's administrative judge, 'nearly all medicines have toxic,

potentially lethal affects, but marijuana is not such a

substance...Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest

therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure

of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a

supervised routine of medical care' (DEA Docket No. 86-22, 57).

It doesn't make sense then, for marijuana to be illegal in the

United States when alcohol poisoning is a major cause of death

in this country and approximately 400,000 premature deaths are

attributed to cigarettes annually. Dr. Roger Pertwee, Secretary of

the International Cannabis Research Society states that as a

recreational drug, 'Marijuana compares favorably to nicotine,

alcohol, and even caffeine.' Under extreme amounts of alcohol a

person will experience an 'inability to stand or walk without help,

stupor and near unconsciousness, lack of comprehension of what

is seen or heard, shock, and breathing and heartbeat may stop.'

Even though these effects occur only under an extreme amount of

alcohol consumption, (.2-.5 BAL) the fact is smoking extreme

amounts of marijuana will do nothing more than put you to sleep,

while drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will kill you.

The most profound activist for marijuana's use as a

medicine is Dr. Lester Grinspoon, author of Marihuana: The

Forbidden Medicine. According to Grinspoon, 'The only well

confirmed negative effect of marijuana is caused by the smoke,

which contains three times more tars and five times more carbon

monoxide than tobacco. But even the heaviest marijuana smokers

rarely use as much as an average tobacco smoker. And, of course,

many prefer to eat it.' His book includes personal accounts of

how prescribed marijuana alleviated epilepsy, weight loss of AIDs,

nausea of chemotherapy, menstrual pains, and the severe effects

of Multiple Sclerosis. The illness with the most documentation

and harmony among doctors which marijuana has successfully

treated is MS. Grinspoon believes for MS sufferers, 'Cannabis is

the drug of necessity.' One patient of his, 51 year old Elizabeth

MacRory, says 'It has completely changed my life...It has helped

with muscle spasms, allowed me to sleep properly, and helped

control my bladder.' Marijuana also proved to be effective in the

treatment of glaucoma because its use lowers pressure on the eye.

'In a recent survey at a leading teaching hospital, 'over 60

per cent of medical students were found to be marijuana users.'

In the same survey, only 30 per cent admitted to smoking

cigarettes' (Guardian). Brian Hilliard, editor of Police Review,

says 'Legalizing cannabis wouldn't do any harm to anybody. We

should be concentrating on the serious business of heroin and

amphetamines.' 'In the UK in 1991, 42,209 people were convicted

of marijuana charges, clogging courts and overcrowding

prisons...and almost 90 per cent of drug offenses involve

cannabis...The British government spends 500 million pounds a

year on 'overall responses to drugs' but receives no tax revenue

from the estimated 1.8 billion pound illicit drug market'

(Guardian). Figures like this can be seen in the United States as

well. The US spends billions of dollars annually on the war on

drugs. If the government were to legalize marijuana, it could

reasonably place high taxes on it because people are used to

buying marijuana at extremely high prices created by the risks of

selling marijuana illegally. It could be sold at a convenient store

just like a pack of cigarettes for less than someone would pay

now, but still yield a high profit because of easy growing


An entire industry could be created out of hemp based

products. The oils extracted from seeds could be used for fuels

and the hemp fiber, a fiber so valued for its strength that it is

used to judge the quality of other fibers, could be manufactured

into ropes, clothing, or paper. Most importantly, the money the

government would make from taxes and the money which would

be saved by not trying to prevent its use could be used for more

important things, such as serious drugs or the national debt.

The recreational use of marijuana would not stimulate crime

like some would argue. The crime rate in Amsterdam, where

marijuana is legal, is lower than many major US cities. Mario

Lap, a key drug policy advisor in the Netherlands national

government says 'We've had a realistic drug policy for 30 years in

the Netherlands, and we know what works. We distinguish

between soft and hard drugs, between traffickers and users. We

try not to make people into criminals' (Houston Chronicle).

We can expect strong opposition from companies like

DuPont and paper manufacturers but the selfishness of these

corporations should not prevent its use in our society like it did

in the 1930's. Regardless of what these organizations will say

about marijuana, the fact is it has the potential to become one of

the most useful substances in the entire world. If we took action

and our government legalized it today, we would immediately see

benefits from this decision. People suffering from illnesses

ranging from manic depression to Multiple Sclerosis would be

able to experience relief. The government could make billions of

dollars off of the taxes it could impose on its sale, and its

implementation into the industrial world would create thousands

of new jobs for the economy. Also, because of its role in paper

making, the rain forests of South America could be saved from

their current fate of extinction. No recorded deaths have ever

occurred as a result of marijuana use, it is not physically addictive

like alcohol or tobacco, and most doctors will agree it is safer to

use. Marijuana being illegal has no validity at all. Due to all the

positive aspects of marijuana it should be legalized in the United