Essay by sanityHigh School, 11th grade February 1997

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Throughout history marijuana has been used to

serve various purposes in many different

cultures. The purposes have changed over time

to fit in with the current lifestyles.

This pattern is also true in American history.

The use of marijuana has adapted to the social

climate of the time.

Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannibis

sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts

as early as 2700 B. C. in China. (Grolier Electronic

Encyclopedia, 1995). The cultivation of the

marijuana plant began as far back as the

Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp

produced from the marijuana plant's fibers to make

rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing

because of it's durability. These uses fit in with

the social climate of the time, because the main

focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive


During the prohibition, marijuana was widely

used because of the scarcity of alcohol. Prohibition

was repealed after just thirteen years while the prohibition

against marijuana lasted for more than seventy five years.

This double standard may have resulted from the wishes of

those in power. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at

tens of millions of Americans of all ages, including many of

societies most powerful members. Marijuana prohibition

threatened far fewer Americans, and they had relatively

little influence in the districts of power. Only the

prohibition of marijuana, which some sixty million

Americans have violated since 1965 has come close

to approximating the prohibition experience, but

marijuana smokers consist mostly of young and

relatively powerless Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).

Alcohol prohibition was repealed and

marijuana prohibition was retained, not because

scientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerous

of the various psychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudices

and preferences of most Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).

In 1937 the government issued the...