What is a Weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Weed the People: From Founding Fiber to Forbidden Fruit. It is the author’s intent to explain why marijuana should be legalized and no longer considered deviant behavior. This paper will show that the United States of America is moving, ever so slowly, in this direction. First with allowing the use of medical marijuana in 14 states and many other states are reducing the severity of punishment for possession of marijuana and now two states have passed laws allowing marijuana to legally consume for recreational purposes.
Marijuana has been a controversial issue on our society for many years. Although there have been many negative claims regarding its effects on the human body people are learning the truths. Although due to many years of stereotyping people who smoke pot some would rather believe the untruths. There is a skewed perception of what a pot smoker looks like. Such as how they are portrayed in the movie, Reefer Madness. Pot smokers were automatically considered addicts that eventually turned to criminal activities or they took part in some sort of deviant behavior. It was after this movie that Regan began a “War on Drugs” in 1960’s which may have helped to brand pot smokers as delinquents or deviants. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028346/
Although we make think so, using marijuana for medicinal purposes is not new. The United States began understanding the benefits of the medical properties in marijuana in the 1800’s. Later there were many papers written by physicians on how marijuana can be used to alleviate a number of medical disorders, ailments such as pain relief, glaucoma and nausea to name a few. It is also a strong appetite stimulant. Recently this has been proven most beneficial for people who have diseases that suppress the appetite such as cancer or AIDS helping them to sustain their appetite and strength. (http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5441#f2 Accessed on June 5, 2010).
Currently it is thought that probably the most significant impact that the legalization of marijuana is that it would re-introduce the use of hemp into our society. This would be very beneficial to our economy. Hemp fibers are impressively strong, making the crop useful in the production of textile based products. This makes it ideal for the manufacturing of products like paper, fabric, and rope. It can also be used as a dietary supplement and has more protein than soy. Because of the higher yield per acre and the shorter growing cycle for Hemp, it is considered to be superior to cotton. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, one acre of marijuana can produce four times as much paper and can be harvested quicker than an acre of trees. (http://cannabisnews.com/news/14/thread14829.shtml Accessed on June 5, 2010).
Another very important benefit of hemp is that it has the ability to produced large amounts of cellulose. It has been recently discovered that the compound cellulose can be converted into a biofuel called cellulostic ethanol. This type of biofuel is able to power anything that gasoline currently does. This type of biofuel is typically produced by means of “energy crops”, primarily from corn or cotton. An energy crop is a plant grown as a low-cost and low-maintenance harvest used to make biofuels. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_crops)
Hemp still reigns champion over cotton once again as it can be reproduced more often and it yields more than four times the amount of cellulose than from corn. A judge recently stated that the current marijuana laws are progressing much like those right before prohibition ended. The laws became more focused on taking down large operations, king pins and the like. It is estimated that the use of marijuana will be legalized in five years time. (http://www.wmur.com/news/national/Pot-advocates-hope-to-rise-from-prohibition/-/9857926/17619956/-/13figx9/-/index.html?absolute=true)
As more and more states follow others, like Washington and Colorado and make marijuana legal for recreational use it will no longer be seen as deviant behavior. Well, no more than alcohol or smoking cigarettes. I have known many alcoholics in my lifetime but I have not known very many pot heads. I am not saying I don’t know people who smoke pot. I do, and they use it for recreational purposes and as a sleep aid. Smoking marijuana really is no different than consuming alcohol.
There was a time when it was the “norm” for a man to go home after a long day at work and have a “high ball” or two. Some would rather go home after a long day at work and relax with a joint. Legalized marijuana should be treated the same as legal alcohol. Only those above a certain age will be able to purchase or use it and it will only be sold in licensed establishments. My question to society would be, do you want users consuming marijuana that has been grown illegally? Smuggled into the United States or would you rather they purchase their marijuana from licensed establishments that are regulated and contribute taxes to their community?
http://cannabisnews.com/news/14/thread14829.shtml Accessed on June 5, 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_crops
http://www.wmur.com/news/national/Pot-advocates-hope-to-rise-from-prohibition/-/9857926/17619956/-/13figx9/-/index.html?absolute=true http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5441#f2 Accessed on June 5, 2010