What is Marijuana
What is Marijuana?
By: Russel Chiacchia
What Is Marijuana? Marijuana is a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa (or Cannabis indica). It can be smoked by rolling in tobacco paper or placing in a pipe. It is also otherwise consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure, an escape from reality, or relaxation. The main active principle of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol. ��Marijuana is not a narcotic and is not mentally or physically addicting drug. One can use mild cannabis preparations such as marijuana in small amounts for years without physical or mental deterioration. Marijuana serves to diminish inhibitions and acts as a euphoriant. Some who smoke marijuana feel no effects; others feel relaxed and sociable, tend to laugh a great deal, and have a profound loss of the sense of time. Characteristically, those under the influence of marijuana show incoordination and impaired ability to perform skilled acts. Still others experience a wide range of emotions including feelings of perception, fear, insanity, happiness, love and anger�� (Annas 19). Although marijuana is not addicting, it may be habituating. The individual may become psychologically rather than physically dependent on the drug. Those who urge the legalization of marijuana maintain the drug are entirely safe. The available data suggested, this is not so. Marijuana occasionally produces acute panic reactions or even transient psychoses. Furthermore, a person driving under the influence of marijuana is a danger to themselves and others. There is no established medical use for marijuana or any other cannabis preparation. In the United States, its use is a crime and the laws governing marijuana are similar to those regulating heroin. Many authorities now urge that the laws be modified to mitigate the penalties relating to conviction on marijuana possession charges. The Case for Legalizing Marijuana use the United States stands apart from many nations in its deep respect for the individual. The strong belief in personal freedom appears early in the nation's history. The Declaration of Independence speaks of every citizen's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The Constitution and Bill of Rights go further, making specific guarantees. The right to privacy in recent years, Americans have referred to privacy as one of the basic human rights, something to be claimed by anyone, anywhere. United States citizens feel strongly about this and often tell other countries that they must honor their people's claims to privacy and personal freedom. The marijuana user is indulging in a minor pleasure over which that government should have no jurisdiction. It is quite clear from survey data that most people do not become physically dependent on marijuana. The majority uses it as others use alcohol - to relax occasionally and to indulge a festive mood. How can a mild intoxicant, taken less than once a day by most users, be seen as a public threat? The law should not penalize even those who are ��hooked��, or psychologically dependent upon their habit. Some people find any compulsive and unproductive behavior disgusting. But that is not a reason for outlawing it. The attempt to use the law to tell people what they may and may not consume at home is an arrogant invasion of personal privacy. Protecting the drug user's physical health sometimes it is said that the law must protect the drug user from himself. One of the detriments of tolerating drug use, according to this theory, is that is encourages the use of more and different drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's 1984 report to Congress cited no evidence to support the idea that drug use is hurting economic productivity. It said: "The fact is, very little is known about the complex relationship which undoubtedly exists between drug abuse, worker performance, and productivity, or the lack thereof.... Simply put, the number of unanswered questions currently far outnumbers the available answers." Nor is there any strong evidence that legalizing marijuana would increase use of the drug. In fact, there is some evidence suggesting that drug use under a relaxed legal system might not increase at all. Many states have removed the penalties for marijuana possession that were on the books in the 1950s and 1960s. The change occurred during a reform movement that swept the nation in the mid 1970s. Yet in spite of the less stringent laws, studies show that the use of marijuana in the affected states has, after an initial increase, declined. Although marijuana became easier to use (from a legal standpoint), it also became less popular. The admission that the marijuana laws have failed will have to come from someone else- not from the police. Marijuana is a common weed, easier to produce than the bathtub gin of the Prohibition years. It is not surprising that thousands of "dealers" have been drawn into the marijuana business. Despite the great risks they face, including bullying by other dealers and the threat of arrest, they are attracted by the profits. The law cannot change the economics of this market because it operates outside the law. All the police can do is to make it risky to get into the marijuana business. This is supposed to drive out the less courageous dealers, reduce the amount of marijuana available, and inflate prices. But even by this measure, the police effort has failed. It includes not just dealers who are out for profit but a much larger group of users. Some Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana by lifting the ban on marijuana use and treating it like other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, the nation would gain immediate and long-term benefits. This change in the law would greatly improve the quality of life for many people. ��Victims of glaucoma and those needing antinausea treatment, for example, would find marijuana easily available. If the medical advantages that are claimed for marijuana were real, many more patients would benefit. Research, which has been slowed in the past by the government's reluctance to front exemptions to the marijuana laws would be easier to conduct�� (Gorman 20). The cloud of suspicion would disappear, and doctors could get on with investigating marijuana's medical uses with out fear of controversy. It might become possible to discuss the dangers of marijuana use without getting caught up in a policy debate. Meanwhile, the black market would disappear overnight. Some arrangement would be made to license the production of marijuana cigarettes. Thousands of dealers would be put out of business, and a secret part of the economy would come into the open. It is difficult to say whether this change would reduce crime because criminals would probably continue to sell other drugs. Lastly, the federal budget would benefit in two ways; Federal revenues would increase, because marijuana cigarettes would be taxed at the point of sale. The companies that make the cigarettes would also pay income taxes, adding to the federal funds. Seconds, there would be a reduction in the amount spent on law enforcement efforts to apprehend and prosecute users and sellers of marijuana. The drug enforcement authorities might reduce their budget requests, or, more likely, focus more intensely on hard drugs and violent crimes. Alcohol vs. Marijuana �Y Over 100 thousand deaths annually are directly linked to acute alcohol poisoning. �Y In 4,000 years of recorded history, no one has ever died from a pot overdose. �Y Alcohol causes Server physical and psychology dependence. �Y Alcohol is reported to cause temporary and permanent damage to all major organs of the body. �Y Cannabis is a much less violent provoking substance then alcohol. * With over 60 million people using cannabis in the U.S. Today our laws and lawmakers should view it under the same light. As they do alcohol. Marijuana Status 1970: 11% of high school seniors said they were using marijuana every day. 1975: About 27% said they had used marijuana sometime in the previous month. 1978: The monthly users grew up to 37% then in 1986 dropped to 23%. 1979: 12 to 17 year olds reported using it within the last month has dropped from a high point of 17% and in 1987 dropped to 12%. (Snyder 171-172) The three public policy alternatives that I have are legalizing it just for medical use, legalizing it completely, and just legalizing it to people who are over 21 like alcohol. The few medical uses for marijuana are reason enough to legalize it. I feel that if there is a person who is too sick to eat and the only way to extend their life is by eating then let them have a little marijuana if it will make them hungry. I would not like to see a person die because they were too weak to be hungry. Another change that can be made is just legalizing it all together. The only problem with this idea is that little kids can get a hold of it easy. With the taxes gains from selling it there will be a large increase in the GNP. With the money made from the selling of marijuana, maybe the national debt will decrease for the first time in years. The last reason, which I feel is the best, is legalizing it like alcohol. A high tax and stiff laws should take care of the problems associated. The effects of marijuana and alcohol are very closely related. Therefore the same laws and penalties should govern them. There is no reason that people who enjoy using should be denied the right to use it. Marijuana has been being used for years. Why stop people from using it?
1. Annas, George. ��Reefer Madness -- The Federal Response to California's Medical- Marijuana Law�� New England Medical Journal Vol. 337, No. 6 (August 6, 1997) p 19 2. Gorman, Peter. ��The Battle for Medical Marijuana�� Hightimes (May 1999) p 20 3. Snyder, Solomon. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs. Series 2. LEGALIZATION: A DEBATE. CHELSEA HOUSE PUBLISHERS. New York, 1988
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