Cannibis Sativa Essay, Research Paper
Cannibis Sativa – MarijuanaThroughout history marijuana has been used toserve various purposes in many differentcultures. The purposes have changed over timeto fit in with the current lifestyles.This pattern is also true in American history.The use of marijuana has adapted to the socialclimate of the time. Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannibissativa, was mentioned in historical manuscriptsas early as 2700 B. C. in China. (Grolier ElectronicEncyclopedia, 1995). The cultivation of themarijuana plant began as far back as theJamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hempproduced from the marijuana plant’s fibers to makerope and canvas. It was also used in making clothingbecause of it’s durability. These uses fit in withthe social climate of the time, because the mainfocus was on survival rather than for psychoactivepurposes. During the prohibition, marijuana was widelyused because of the scarcity of alcohol. Prohibitionwas repealed after just thirteen years while the prohibitionagainst marijuana lasted for more than seventy five years. This double standard may have resulted from the wishes ofthose in power. Alcohol prohibition struck directly attens of millions of Americans of all ages, including many ofsocieties most powerful members. Marijuana prohibitionthreatened far fewer Americans, and they had relativelylittle influence in the districts of power. Only theprohibition of marijuana, which some sixty millionAmericans have violated since 1965 has come closeto approximating the prohibition experience, butmarijuana smokers consist mostly of young andrelatively powerless Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).Alcohol prohibition was repealed andmarijuana prohibition was retained, not becausescientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerousof the various psychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudicesand preferences of most Americans (American Heritage, pg 47). In 1937 the government issued the Marijuana Tax Act,which levied a dollar an ounce tax on marijuana,coupled with fines of $2,000 for drug posession andjail sentences for evasion of the tax. For this
reason marijuana use in the United States appearsto have gone into decline in the late 30’s(Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg 54). Then marijuana was outlawed in 1937 as arepressive measure against Mexican workerswho crossed the border seekingjobs duringthe Depression. The specific reason givenfor the outlawing of the hemp plant was it’ssupposed violent “effect on the degenerate races”(Schaffer, pg. 86). Beginning in the 60’s marijuana use saw aresurgence which may be attributed to manycauses. One of the main causes was therebellion of youth against the Vietnam War. They used marijuana as an escape from war to peace. It was easy at this time to depict marijuana asa beneficial and completely harmless substancewhose effects were far less harmful than thoseof legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotinebecause there was not enough scientificresearch done during the 60’s (Grolier WellnessEncyclopedia, pg 54). Another cause may have been the discovery ofthe psychoactive component of marijuana-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. Users found the relation between the doses andthe effects (Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1995). The current atmosphere provides for doctors tosuggest synthetic marijuana (THC) in a pure andstandardized form by perscription (called Marinol)for the treatment of nausea associated withcancer chemotherapy. Also, although there is noscientific evidence that shows marijuanais beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma,it may prevent the progression of visual loss. Marijuana, along with alcohol and a host ofother substances, can actually lower intraoculareye pressure. The mediction however, must be carefullytailored to the individual to prevent further eye damage. The evidence has clearly shown that marijuanahas been around for a great deal of timeand has served multiple purposes throughout history. SourcesGrolier Electronic Encylopedia, Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, Drugs, Society & Behavior. Vol. 3, 1992. Ethan A. Nadelmann, American Heritage Magazine,Feb-Mar, 1993.Medical Marijuana, http://www.lec.org/Drug_Watch/Public/Documents/Med_Marijuana_Paper.htm, 1995.