Marijuana-The Perfect Plant? Essay, Research Paper
Marijuana-The Perfect Plant?
Prior to the twentieth century, the marijuana plant (then more commonly referred to as hemp) was the single most important industrial plant, or non-food producing crop in America and the world (Getpman 1990). Archeologists report that marijuana was possibly the first plant cultivated by humans. They estimate that date at approximately 8000 BC (Columbia University). As early as 4000 BC, pottery with marijuana markings and hemp textiles were found in North Central China. In those years, such things as clothing, rope, fishnets, pottery, and oils were made from the marijuana plant. The early Chinese also knew about the medicinal uses of marijuana. 2737 BC was the first recorded use of marijuana for medical purposes by the Chinese emperor Shen-nung. Also, in 105AD, the world?s first paper, made from hemp, was invented by a Chinese man, Ts ?a Lon. The first ships to come across the Atlantic Ocean used a lot of materials made from marijuana.
To say that America was founded on marijuana would not be at all untrue. Many historic people and items that, to us, symbolize freedom are, or were, closely related to marijuana. The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were both written on hemp paper. Betsy Ross used hemp cloth to make the first American flag. Hemp canvas (the word canvass comes from cannabis, Latin for hemp) covered the pioneers? wagons as they headed west to settle America. Abraham Lincoln was said to have used a hemp oil lamp to read and study by.
In the 1930?s, a corporation called Du Pont and a man named William Randolph Hearst were two major leaders in a quest to make marijuana illegal. They were both afraid that hemp would compete with certain paper and synthetic products of theirs. Since Hearst owned newspapers, he had a perfect opportunity to write and publish many false stories about hemp and give it an evil face in the eyes of Americans. When Hearst acquired a patent for the sulfuric acid paper-making process to be used with tree pulp, and oddly enough owned timber holdings in Oregon, he had two major reasons to fight for marijuana becoming illegal. He used his money and political influence to make a movie entitled ?Refer Madness?, which falsely exaggerated the negativity of marijuana. In 1938 the US government made marijuana illegal. However, in 1942 the United States Department of Agriculture made it?s own film which they called ?Hemp for Victory?. This movie was made to reemphasize hemp?s usefulness and encourage farmers to grow the plant because of the need for materials during the War. After the War, however, when hemp was again able to be acquired from Asia, American production again came to a halt.
There have been many questions about medical problems that marijuana has said to create. The most popular question is if people have died from smoking marijuana. The answer to that question is no. From research done by the US Government Bureau of Mortality Statistics in 1987 the following statistics on deaths attributed to substances in a year were found:
?Alcohol (excluding crime/accidents)?????125,000+
?Drug Overdose (prescription)?????.24,000-27,000
?Drug Overdose (illegal)????????..3,800-5,200
The only deaths from an overdose of marijuana recorded were mice. The ratio that doctors came up with for a lethal dose of marijuana is 1 to 40,000. This means that in order for someone to overdose they would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as it would take them to get stoned or high. Strangely enough, the ratio of alcohol can vary between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. Looking at these statistics it is pretty easy to see how nearly 5,000 people die from alcohol overdoses a year. Many people also believe that marijuana flattens people?s brain waves. This is untrue. A few years ago the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ran a TV ad that showed a normal brain wave, and then showed a flat brain wave from a fourteen your old supposedly on marijuana. Researchers then complained to the TV networks that the Partnership had faked the second brain wave and then had to pull it from the air. Actually, marijuana slightly increases brain wave activity that is mostly associated with a person?s creativity. People also believe that marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco. Marijuana contains the same amount of harmful carcinogens as an equal amount of tobacco. But, people should also remember that a tobacco smoker smokes more and more often than a marijuana smoker. That?s because smoked tobacco has a 90% addiction rate. That makes it the most addictive of all drugs, marijuana on the other hand is less addictive than caffeine(Hager). The only harmful thing about marijuana is the possibility of bronchitis. The best way to prevent this from happening is the same way you would from smoked tobacco. Stop smoking. It has been a proven point that there are over a thousand chemicals in marijuana smoke. The August 31 issue of the magazine Science in 1990 noted that there are over 800 volatile chemicals present in roasted coffee, only 21 have actually been tested on animals and 16 of these caused cancer (Hager). Even with these studies coffee is still legal, has no real uses, and is considered fairly safe. The public has been lead to believe that marijuana makes people violent. This statement is untrue according to the Federal Bureau of narcotics director Harry Anslinger. He told congress that just the opposite was true, that it leads to non-violence and pacifism. He also said that re-legalizing marijuana could be considered as one way to curb violence in cities (Family Council on Drug Awareness). Re-legalizing could also redirect a lot of the money spent on the fight against drugs to more useful things like communities and children.
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye characterized by excessive accumulation of fluid causing increased ocular pressure, distorted vision, and ultimately blindness. In December of 1975, a man diagnosed in the early stages of glaucoma was given large doses of marijuana. The result was that it reduced the inter-ocular pressure to a safe level for the duration of a complete test day. The only option to having expensive surgery was to prescribe him to smoke marijuana daily.
Marijuana is said to be a ?gateway? drug that leads to more harmful drugs. This is a huge and persistent myth. An actual real world example of this comes from Holland. In Holland marijuana was partially legalized in the 1970s. Since that time the use of more harmful drugs like heroine and cocaine has dropped. I have not heard of any examples of the opposite, so people really can?t use this as a credible argument.
Marijuana could be a major contribution to farmers. Farmers could benefit from marijuana greatly if they were allowed to grow it. The government is blind enough to pay farmers around $26 billion a year not to grow a crop that would replace something that we import for the price of around $100 billion a year. I personally could do the math there and see what is being done wrong. To think of all the farms that could have been saved in the 1980s if they would have been allowed to grow marijuana. We would also be doing a lot to help mother Earth if more were grown. For one thing, and probably the most important, it does not require a lot of heavy pesticides and fertilizers, compared to cotton. Cotton, which only yields 1/3 as much as marijuana, is the most chemical using crop in production. This would take a lot of the abuse off the ground. Another factor is that the roots of the plant are much longer than other crops?(about 10 to 12 inches long, compared to a 1 inch long root of rye and barley). This allows the root system to bring valuable nutrients towards the surface from deeper soil layers for the use by the next crop, as well as break up the soil more efficiently. According to Popular Mechanics, two crops of marijuana will reclaim land from thistles. All the farmer has to do is harvest the stalks before they go to seed. Doing this, one acre can yield 3 to 6 tons of hemp (The Free Press). Also the nutrients in a marijuana plant tend to migrate to the leaves and flowers. The good thing about this is when the plant is grown for the stalk, the leaves are left on the soil when harvested and are then able to return those nutrients back to the ground. This make fertilizers for rotation purposes unnecessary. Marijuana can out-yield trees 3 to 1. Long ago the US Department of Agriculture found that one acre of hemp could provide the same quantity of pulp as four acres of trees. Pulp is what is used to make paper. Marijuana could take a great deal of the burden off our forests leaving more timber for things like construction and a refuge for the wildlife. Hemp is also said to be able to absorb four times the amount of carbon dioxide than trees can per acre.
The seeds from the marijuana plant can also be very useful. The oil from the seeds can be used for soaps, salves, and even lip balms. They contain the most fatty acids of all seed oils. Most of the moisturizing products on the market today are made from saturated oils, which are not absorbed by the skin and only coat the skin and stop moisture loss. Fatty acids are absorbed by the skin and that replenishes moisture, vitamins, and minerals. Hemp seeds are about 20-25% protein and contain eight amino acids, soybeans have only four. The seeds can also be used for food products such as non-dairy milk, cheese, ice cream, flour, porridge, and protein burgers.
In my eyes marijuana is hurting America more being illegal than it would if it were legal. There are so many positive uses for it. Every 90 days one acre can produce 3-4 tons every 90 days. Because it is so bulking factories would have to be set up near the places that it is grown. This could create a very large amount of jobs. The foam-like stalk can also be used as an insulator like biodegradable fast food containers. That alone could take away a lot of the damage done to the Earth. New ideas and equipment are making it possible to produce strong construction materials also. Marijuana was never feared until it threatened big corporations. Arizona and California to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. I believe that is a pretty good start. The fight to legalize it now will bring out even more opposition from companies who?s business will be effected. The road to legalize marijuana is going to be a long and hard one.
Paul Hager ?Marijuana Myths? http://www.paranoia.com…a/facts/marijuana myths
Family Council on Drug Awareness ?10 Things Every Parent, Teenager & Teacher
Should Know? http://www.paranoia.com….things.to.know.abt.mj. 1995. (11/3/96)
The Lindesmith Center ?Exposing Marijuana Myths:Claim #9? Exposing Marijuana
Myths:Claim #9 (The Lindesmith Center)1996. Http://www.soros.org/lindesmith/
Bill Leuders ?An Amazing Plant? http://www.paranoia.com?.uana/hemp/amazing
plant 1994. Http://www.paranoia.com/drugs/marijuana/hemp/amazing.plant
Lester Grinspoon, MD; James B. Bakalar, JD ?JAMA Medical Commentary? JAMA
Medical Commentary 1995. Http://www.acu.org/medical/jama.html