Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 1996

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What is marijuana? According to Harvard Medical Professor Lester Grinspoon,

it is a 'miracle drug', one that prevents blindness, acts as an appetite stimulant for AIDS

patients, and prevents muscle spasms in epileptics. When speaking of the same plant,

head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for over thirty years, Harry J. Anslinger said

that this 'evil weed' led to killings, sex crimes and insanity. How can two such highly

respected experts have such night and day outlooks on the same thing? While Anslinger

presided as America's leading anti-drug official his McCarthyish hunt down of Marijuana

users led to the downfall of many well respected Americans. During the 1900's the

United Stated has committed itself to and unprecedented war on marijuana that is costly,

unjustified and impossible to win.

The topic of Marijuana is quite broad. It encompasses history, legislation, and

the benefits as well as the harms of the plant itself.

Marijuana is the name of the plant known to botanists as Cannabis Sativa.

Other names for the plant exist throughout the world. In Africa, Marijuana is known as

'dagga', in China as 'ma', in Northern Europe as 'hemp' and in the United States as

either 'pot', 'buds', 'reefer', 'weed' or the more direct, 'smoke'. Marijuana goes back

over five thousand years. It is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for

food. Hemp, first cultivated in China as early as 2800 B.C., soon stretched to central

Asia where it spread like milkweed or thistle. Marijuana soon began to crowd out

neighboring grasses and reaching heights of three to twenty feet stretched over large

plains. Local people began to use the plant for its strong, durable fibers which they used

for rope and to construct material similar to linen. Early in the Christian Era, Marijuana

reached the Mediterranean countries of Europe. Its cultivation spread through the rest of

Europe during the Middle ages. Hemp's progression to Africa can easily be marked

through the Middle East where it remains a major cash crop. It is unknown how the plant

found its way to the America's. One of the most popular theories is that European

explorers brought the seeds along with them. The cultivation of Marijuana has been

successful in almost every climate. It is the unbounded growth of Marijuana that will later

lead to its difficulty in legislation. The Hemp plant has dozens of uses. It can be made

into canvas, paper, rope, twine, cable, yarn artificial sponges and clothing. The seed of the

plant can be made into Hempseed oil, paints, soaps, carnishes and birdseed. For all of its

usefulness it is the Hemp plant's leaves for which it has been condemned. It is this part of

the plant that yields the sticky yellow resin, rich with cannabinoids. This resin contains

more that sixty compounds unique to Marijuana. The most prominent is delta-9-

tetrahydrocannibinol. This substance otherwise known as delta-9-THC which causes

Marijuana's psychoactive effects. 'The effects of Marijuana', according to Leo Hollister,

former president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and current

professor at the University of Texas 'poses no greater risk that moderate consumption of

Alcohol.' Harvard Professor Lester Grinspoon in his book, Marihuana, the Forbidden

Medicine, claims that the drug has countless benefits, among which are: relief of nausea

associated with chemotherapy, preventing blindness induced by glaucoma, serving as an

appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, warding off asthma attacks and migraine headaches,

relieving chronic pain and deduction of the muscle spasticity that accompanies multiple

sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and paraplegia, the list continues. Through the 1900's,

specifically the 1970's, a number of studies were done on Pot which claimed that it kills

brain cells, damages chromosomes, caused impotence in men and prompts men to grow

breasts. These conclusions, as stated by Eric Schlosser a writer for The Atlantic Monthly

and authority on Marijuana, '...were based on faulty research.' However, there are real

consequences to smoking Reefer. One of these consequences is a psychological

dependence in some users. The compound delta-9-THC has a half-life of five days. This

means an occasional user can fail a drug test three days after smoking, a heavy user can

fail for over a month. There have been no immunosuppressive of reproductive effects

linked to delta-9-THC. Some studies have shown short-term memory deficiency, although

reversible, in heavy smokers. The biggest health concern with Pot smoke is its damage

to the respiratory system. The risks run parallel with tobacco smoking. According to

Physician Donald P. Taskin, of the University of California, 'A joint seems to deliver fo