Cannabis Sativa Essay, Research Paper
Hemp is the plant called “cannabis sativa” which is more commonly called marijuana.Marijuana has been illegal in the U.S.. ever since the Great Depression. The question we must ask ourselves is “why?”Why is a drug that has so many beneficial uses illegal? Is it because its poisoning the youth of today? Is it because itleads to harder drugs, the health problems, the addictiveness, the short-term memory impairment, the auto accidents,or is it simply because politicians tell us it is for “our own good?” We have grown up learning that marijuana is aterrible drug, and that using it gives us brain damage, kill all of our brain cells, and makes us lose our memory.The fact is though, that marijuana does not effect us in any of the ways listed above. The idea that marijuanaimpairs short-term memory is true, but misleading. Any signs of short-term memory impairment vanish once the user isno longer intoxicated. Mainly the reason we think marijuana is bad is because that is what the Partnership for aDrug-Free America wants us to believe. They tell us that marijuana will cause brain damage and memory impairment,it will kill brain cells, and lead to more crime. But what they forget to mention is all the benefits we can receive fromlegalizing marijuana. For example, the medicinal uses, and the textile and construction uses. It is very likely thatlegalizing marijuana would decrease the crime rate, and by legalizing marijuana we will save a lot of money becausewe won’t have to spend it on fighting marijuana as part of the War on Drugs. There are many habits much worsethan marijuana, one example being cigarette smoking. “Tobacco smoking kills more people each year than AIDS,heroin, crack, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire and murder combined. Tobacco smoking is the number onecause of preventable death in the US. Tobacco smokers have 10 times the lung cancer of nonsmokers, twice theheart disease, and are three times more likely to die of heart disease if they develop it. Does it make sense thattobacco is legal and marijuana is not, when so many people die from tobacco smoking each year and there is not onereported case of anyone ever dying from marijuana use in its 10,000 years of consumption? You have probably heardthat “one joint is that same as 10 cigarettes,” but this statement is misleading. ALthough marijuana contains the sameamount of carcinogens as an equal amount of tobacco and more tar, tobacco is still worse. Every yr 350,000Americans die from tobacco-related disease according to the American Lung Association. A tobacco smokerconsumes much more tobacco than a marijuana smoker consumes marijuana. This is probably because tobaccohas a 90% addiction rate while marijuana is less addictive than caffeine. Also, tobacco contains nicotine that mayharden the arteries and may be responsible for much of the heart diseases caused by cigarette smoking. Marijuana onthe other hand contains the chemical THC which opens up the lungs and aids in the clearance of smoke and dirt. Ithink it is safe to say that tobacco smoking is much more dangerous than marijuana smoking. Another bad habit isalcohol, which in my opinion is the worst of all. 8,000 American teenagers are killed each year and 40,000maimed from driving under the influence. The mortality figures for alcohol use are 100,000 annually, compared to thezero marijuana deaths. The amount of marijuana needed to kill someone is 1 to 40,000, while the ratio for alcoholfluctuates between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. Not only do many people die each year from alcohol poisoning, but alcoholhas caused thousands of fatal car accidents. Although, marijuana, when used to the point of intoxication, impairsjudgement and reaction time, actual studies suggest that the effect alcohol has on one’s driving ability is muchgreater than that of marijuana. In fact, it is found that 85% of marijuana related car accidents also involved alcohol. It issad to think that a legal drug like alcohol, the drug of choice for most teens, causes so many fatalities on ourhighways each year, yet marijuana is the drug that is illegal. I personally feel that marijuana is an amazing plant, andit should be being utilized today. The problem is that most people don’t know the benefits that can come frommarijuana. There are many different beneficial ways for which marijuana can be used. Marijuana can be used formedical and textile uses, for food, for fuels, and for the economy. First of all, marijuana could be used for food. It isbelieved that enough food is grown worldwide to feed everyone and that famine exists because there are not sufficientmeans of distribution. So why not let people grow their own marijuana? Marijuana grows like a weed and has fewinsect pests. It is usually grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Hemp improves the quality of the soilbecause it is grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Hemp is not finicky and grows under many differentconditions and has one of the largest worldwide distributions of any plant. It is very nutritious and it contains highamounts of protein and essential fatty oils. The average adult can receive an adequate amount of protein and oilsfrom just one handful of hemp seed a day. If this is the case, which it is, why are people starving around the worldwhen the solution is marijuana for food? Hemp could also be used for fuel. By using marijuana for fuel wecould reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere. Hemp can also be used for heatinghomes. Using marijuana for fuel would not only help our environment save us a lot of money for fuel, but it would alsobenefit our economy by allowing the country to make huge profits because the cost of growing marijuana isvirtually nothing. Another way marijuana can be used is for clothes, fibers, and paper. Marijuana has been used in thepast for textile and construction and should be used today. For example, the first pair of Levi’s jeans weremade from marijuana because it is extremely durable. ALso, sailors used marijuana in canvas for their sailsbecause it does become corroded from the sea water. The pulp fibers of marijuana can be used for making paper,which would reduce the amount of trees that are cut down. One acre of hemp will make the same amount andquality of paper as 4 acres of 20 yr old trees without the need for chlorine in the bleaching process and, creating notoxic dioxin pollutants. What I’m wondering in why haven’t we used marijuana for paper all along? I think it is senselessthat are constantly cutting down trees and destroying rain forests when there is another alternative. There is only 4%of America’s old growth forest still remaining, and yet we are still cutting them down like they will grow backinstantly. The fact is that it may take a lifetime for what has already been destroyed to grow back, so why keep ruiningAmerica’s old growth forests when growing marijuana grows much more quickly and it is cheaper? Mostimportantly, marijuana should be legalized for medicinal reasons. Hemp can be used to treat many diseases, some of whichinclude: multiple sclerosis, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, asthma, glaucoma, cancer treatment, AIDStreatment, emphysema, and stress reduction. This list does not even include the many medicines that can be made frommarijuana, it only includes the illnesses for which marijuana is used today. Marijuana is commonly used forcontrolling nausea and vomiting in cancer and AIDS patients that are being treated with chemotherapy or AZT.Because of nausea caused by chemotherapy, these patients sometimes can’t eat, which could kill them. One way ofcontrolling the nausea is to smoke marijuana, but the problem is that it is illegal. So what are they supposed to do,starve? I don’t think there is anything wrong with smoking marijuana, especially if it means their happiness. Myneighbor, Jason, has an aunt who is dying of cancer. She has very little chance of beating this disease, and wants to becomfortable for the time she has left. She doesn’t want to be on all the heavy drugs. She tells Jason that she wouldrather be in pain than be all drugged up. She hates feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and sedated. When she smokesmarijuana she feels much better. The pain doesn’t go away completely, but at least she can function. I think the fact that shecould be put in jail for smoking marijuana is terrible. It is okay for a patient to be on serious narcotics to kill thepain, but smoking marijuana is out of the question. Marijuana has no side effects, whereas drugs likeDemerol and morphine have both short-term and long-term effects on the patient. The short-term effects are dizziness,sedation, itching and rash, respiratory depression, delirium, decreased heartbeat, vomiting, disorientation,hallucinations, decreased cough reflex, and problems with urination. The long-term effects can actually be more seriousthan some of the illnesses, one example is liver damage. Marijuana, however, has no side affects, except sometimeseuphoria, which is minor compared to the serious effects of narcotics. Glaucoma and multiple sclerosis are alsoillnesses in which marijuana is sometimes used. Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness, is caused byuncontrollable eye pressure. Marijuana helps control the eye pressure and keeps glaucoma from leading to blindness.Another illness that marijuana is used for is multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is the disease in which thebody’s immune system attacks the nerve cells. Marijuana can stop the spasms from occurring and can prevent thedisease from getting worse. Marijuana should be legalized in th US because it has medicinal and textilepurposes which can benefit everyone. Marijuana can be used as a material for clothing and the effects it has on bothcancer and AIDS patients are positive. Marijuana is inexpensive to grow, allowing us to obtain a huge profit on themedicinal and textile industries, and it can be used as an alternative form of cigarettes. If the US governmentwere to take hold of this operation, new jobs would open and money for the War on Drugs could be distributed toother programs. Marijuana must not be ignored or destroyed. Marijuana’s many uses are not and cannotcurrently be used to its fullest potential because of the drug laws. Among the most important uses of marijuana arefor medical and health reasons, and textile and construction materials. The undeniable truth is that the benefits thatcan come from legalizing marijuana greatly outweigh the weak and unsupportive myths that keep this great resourcefrom being utilized. The solution to this problem is to legalize marijuana and its many uses today. By legalizingmarijuana, many problems would be solved. The only way for marijuana to be legalized though, is with the supportand help of everyone. Now that you have a good understanding of what some of the many uses marijuana has, you’llhelp to decide. The most important step to making marijuana legal is educating the public. One of the biggestproblems is that the people who know about marijuana and agree that it should be legalized are too busy and too paranoidto help. If you are interested in helping, there are several organizations you could join. These organizationsneed your help with getting the word about marijuana out, so join one of the many committees in putting this issueonto the ballots and into legislatures of this country, where everyone can state their opinions in a straight forwardmanner set forth in our United States’ and individual states constitutions. The Florida Legalization Organization islooking for sponsors for the Hemp Re-Legalization Act which will re-legalize hemp for food, fuel, fiber, medicine,recreation, sacramental uses and almost all known purposes. One of the most important things you can do to helpis talk about marijuana today, talk to friends, parents, co-workers, etc. Tell them you think marijuana should belegalized, you may actually be surprised at how many people will agree. Talk about the medicinal uses for marijuana ,and the many other uses you know about. You could photocopy fliers and literature and pass them around tofriends or anyone for that matter. Spread the word about marijuana and have your friends pass the information alongto others. Post fliers about meetings on campus or in the library. This is an easy way to inform people aboutmarijuana. Mostly what these organizations need is volunteers, and funding for office supplies, printing, postage,transportation, telephone, etc. You can also write letters to elected officials such as the president, senator, or state orlocal officials. Maybe even spend some time with a local group doing telephone outreach, folding and mailingliterature, etc. Finally, you can donate money and resources to activist groups like NORML, BACH, HEMP, etc. Ithink that the best way in spreading the word about marijuana is by talking about it. Go to the rallies with somefriends that are unsure about the idea, and they can find out for themselves what it is all about. Also, go to Hempfest,they are a lot of fun from what I hear. They usually are much more fun than rallies and they are very educational. So,if there is any question in your mind about legalizing marijuana you should definitely attend. Every year the numberof people that go to Hempfest gets bigger and bigger, but it is still not big enough. They need your support.Whatever you do, do it right away, This is an important issue that needs to be resolved soon and chances are that if youdon’t get started right away, you never will.