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The Legalization of Marijuana Marijuana is a drug that comes from a variety of common hemp known as cannabis indica. The much more potent hashish is also derived from the plant cannabis indica. What is sold on the street as marijuana, hemp, weed, pot, or bud are the dried leaves and the flowering tops of the plant. The primary psychoactive component in marijuana is the trans-delta-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. By 1937, marijuana had become illegal in 46 states.
Penalties for its use were similar to those for morphine, heroin, and cocaine. The attitude toward marijuana was so negative that it was wrongly classified as a narcotic and a schedule I drug. However, much of the publics thinking changed as marijuana began to be perceived, especially by the young, as a relatively harmless substance whose adverse effects had been greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, that thinking never influenced the law enforcement agencies, which continued to consider marijuana as dangerous as other illicit substances. One of the most controversial topics in the United States is the legalization of marijuana.
Many people who argue for the legalization of marijuana say that it should be available by prescription for disorders that can not be treated effectively with existing medications. Others feel that purchasing marijuana should be as easy as purchasing a pack of cigarettes. There are many benefits that could be derived from the legalization of marijuana in the United States. There are many medicinal purposes of marijuana. In 1988, the DEAs own administrative law judge concluded that Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man' (Sony 14).
The government allows only twelve Americans the prescription of marijuana. Serious illnesses such as: glaucoma, the AIDS wasting syndrome, muscle spasms of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, quadriplegia, and paraplegia have been successfully treated with marijuana. The symptoms of chemotherapy which are nausea and vomiting are also treated well with marijuana. Marijuana has also been useful in treating migraines, menstrual cramps, and toothaches.
Thirty six states have passed legislation allowing medical marijuana, but none of these treatment programs can be put into effect until the federal law is changed (NORML 2). Ronald Shaw, who suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), is one of the few Americans with FDA approval to smoke marijuana, but he has been waiting for more than a year for FDA to deliver his legal supplies of medical marijuana (Shaw 2). When Linda, Shaw's wife, was asked about her husband using marijuana to treat his illness she replied, You can see the difference marijuana makes. It reduces his muscle cramps and let him get out of bed. And marijuana doesnt leave him doped up like those terrible narcotics hes forced to take. His doctor can prescribe morphine, but not marijuana, thats insane (Shaw 3).
Ron Shaw purchases about an ounce of illegal marijuana every week if he has the money. It has been recently discovered how the psychoactive chemical in marijuana works on the brain. The discovery of a THC receptor site in the brain may be viewed as the event that will one day lead to the legalization of marijuana. The dominate fear about marijuana in the 20 th century has been that its effects were some how similar to the dangerously addictive effects of opiates such as morphine and heroin. This concern has remained the basis for federal law and policies regarding the use and study of marijuana.
Until the 1980 s technological limitation obstructed scientific understanding of how the active ingredient in marijuana actually affects brain functions. The discovery of THC receptor sites and the subsequent research and observation it has inspired refuted the idea that marijuana is dope (Gettman 29). The neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in many important brain functions which affect human behavior. Drugs such as heroin and cocaine, interfere with the brains use of dopamine in manners that can seriously alter an individuals behavior. Over the last ten years research has proved that marijuana has no effect on dopamine brain systems (Gettman 27). Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher who first isolated the structure of THC asked the question, Why do we have cannabinoid receptors (Gettman 27)?
He also observed that Cannabis as is used by man not for its actions on memory or movement coordination, but for its actions on memory and emotions (Gettman 27). Mechoulam asked, Is it possible that the main task of cannabinoid receptors (is) to modify our emotions to serve as the links which transmit, or transform, or translate objective or subjective events into perception and emotions (Gettman 27). Leo Hollister of the Stanford University School of Medicine stated that, Brain damage has not been proved through the use of marijuana (Gettman 27). The reason, obviously is that the brain was prepared in some respects to process THC. Hollister also said that, Compared with other drugs, such as alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, marijuana does not pose greater risks (Gettman 29). Medicinal uses are not the only benefits to the legalization of marijuana.
One acre of hemp will produce as much paper as four acres of trees (Sony 4). The hemp fiber comes from the long stem of the marijuana plant. It can also be used for cloth and cordage for rope. Hemp is cultivated all over the world. Today, China, Korea, Italy, Hungary, Russia, and France are among the countries that grow hemp for fiber, paper, and other products. The United States could turn hemp into a major cash crop if it were legalized.
Lennice Werth, the pro-legalization voice on the Virginia State Crime Commission said, Farmers in the USA should be free to grow whatever crop they can make a profit on. Why should farmers in England, France, or New Zealand have the competitive edge (Kincaid 32). Werth currently serves on a law-enforcement subcommittee of the State Crime Commission, and is very active in the politics of her native state, Virginia. Werth is also a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML and helps organize the annual hemp rally in Richmond, Virginia.
Werth said that her goal for life is to change cannabis laws (Kincaid 32). The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, otherwise know as NORML was founded in 1970 and has been the principle national advocate for legalizing marijuana. During the 1970 s NORML led the efforts to successfully decriminalize minor marijuana offenses in eleven states and significantly lower penalties in all other states. Today NORML serves as an informational resource and an alternative voice to the National Media on marijuana-related stores. NORML also lobbies state and federal legislators to permit the medical use of marijuana, and to reject recent attempts to treat minor marijuana prohibition.
The organization feels that it should be legal for adults to smoke marijuana privately, and that federal anti-marijuana laws should be removed. States should be encouraged to experiment with different models of legalization concerning marijuana (NORML 2). Over the last several years the war on drugs has effectively made it impossible to move progressive marijuana legislation forward. However this may change soon due to the costly failure of the legal prohibition.
The United States is spending a fortune building more and more prisons, and locking up more and more Americans. The crime problem still exists with the many nonviolent drug offenders imprisoned. Policy makers today speak much more about the need for a program of harm reduction in which drug policies would be designed to minimize the harm caused by drugs. Marijuana legalization would be an enormous step forward for the harm reduction movement by removing hundreds of thousands of citizens who use marijuana from the criminal justice system (NORML 1).
Laws are constantly being modified in respect to technological changes. The advances in neurobiology will ultimately one day force changes in the law about marijuana (Gettman 28). Although the medical-marijuana petition was rejected by the administration of the DEA because of the lack of scientific studies detailing marijuana's medical value, the discovery of cannabinoid receptor sites provides the basis for an important event in marijuana's eventual legalization (Gettman 29). In the bible, it states, I have given you all the seed bearing plants and herbs to use (Genesis 1: 12).
If most of the society accepts and believes what is stated in the bible, how can a seed bearing plant put on earth for us to use be illegal? 33 c
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Research essay sample on Legalization Of Marijuana Reform Of Marijuana Laws