To Be Or Not To Be The

History, Future, And Sociological View Of Marijuana. Essay, Research Paper


Encarta Encyclopedia. Marijuana (1993-1997). Microsoft Corporation

Mano, K. D. (1990, May 14). Marijuana. National Review v42.


Monroe, Judy. (1998, March). Marijuana a mind-altering drug. Current Health 2 v24 16-24.

Musto, David F. (1991, July). History of Marijuana use. Scientific American v265. 40-48.

To be or not to be: The History, Future, and Sociological View of Marijuana.


Marijuana is a drug that has been around for quite some time now. It has gone from being legal to grow and smoke to being outlawed and illegal to cultivate. The only way someone is able to use marijuana legally is by prescription from a doctor. Medicinal Marijuana is now legal in the United States and there are a few people who say it should be legal all together and not just in medical situations and then there are those whom say it should stay illegal. There are arguments on both sides, most Americans would like to see it legal for medical purposes and for nothing else, then there are those who would like to see marijuana legalized for personal use and as a recreational drug.

To be or not to be: The History, Future, and Sociological View of Marijuana.

Marijuana is a mixture of leaves, stems, and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant Cannabis sativa, smoked or eaten for it s hallucinogenic and pleasure-giving effects (Encarta 1997). Marijuana was used in central Asia and China as early as 3000 BC as a folk medicine. Although illegal in most countries today, it is still legal to use marijuana for medical purposes, such as treating glaucoma, cataracts, and easing the pain of some cancers. However, one may not just smoke marijuana and say that it helps his/her cataracts, there has to be a prescription by a medical doctor to validate the use. There are some people who believe marijuana should be legal to cultivate personally, as a recreational drug and not just be used for medical reasons. These supporters of pot have a few different reasons for legalizing it, as do the people who are for keeping the laws the same and only allowing it to be used as medicine.

The practice of smoking marijuana came to the U.S. with Mexican immigrants, who had come north during the 1920 s to work in agriculture, and it soon extended to white and black jazz musicians (Musto 1991). With the arrival of the Great Depression during the 1930 s these immigrants became unwelcome, as they were linked with violence and with the growing and smoking of marijuana.

The first response to this was to urge adoption of a uniform state anti-narcotics law, instead, the government began to tax marijuana with the marijuana transfer tax of 1937 (Musto 1991). The bill became law, and until the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Act of 1970, marijuana was legally controlled through a transfer tax for which no stamps or licenses were available to private citizens (Musto 1991).

There is no question that marijuana was used during the 1930 s, however, it was not until Woodstock in the sixties that marijuana s image shifted. It is said that marijuana kept the peace at Wooodstock, and is often questioned; what might have happened if alcohol was the drug of choice instead of marijuana? A demand for marijuana grew from the 60 s up until 1978, when the favorable attitude towards it reached its peak. In 1972, the Presidential Commission on Marijuana recommended the decriminalization of marijuana, this means that it would be legal to possess a small amount for personal use. The Carter administration formally advocated legalizing marijuana in amounts up to an ounce (Musto 1991).

There are many factors that led to a decline in favorable attitudes towards marijuana, three of these are stricter penalties, silence, and exaggeration. At first schools started anti-drug programs to keep drug use low, however, then the schools feared that talking about the drugs with kids would arouse the kids curiosity and make them try the drugs. Therefore, the silent treatment was enacted, if you don t talk about it maybe it will go away, is what people believed with this form of teaching.

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An example of exaggeration is an article in the American Journal of Nursing which warned that a marijuana user will suddenly turn with murderous violence upon whomever is nearest to him. He will run amuck with knife, axe, gun, or anything else that is close at hand, and will kill or maim without reason (Musto 1991). A goal of this well-meaning exaggeration was to describe drugs so repulsively that anyone reading or hearing of them would not be tempted to experiment with any of the substances. During the time of the Depression this was the cheapest and most effective mode of anti-drug campaigning, instead of telling people the truth and letting them decide for themselves whether or not they supported or opposed it.

There are a few things that determine how someone is affected by marijuana. These determinants are: the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the weed that is smoked, how it is taken, whether the user is taking other drugs, the user s past experience, what the user expects to happen, also the user itself (Monroe 1998). THC is the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana that is concentrated in the flowering tops of the plant, and is also absorbed into the fatty tissues in various organs including the brain. Some people may feel relaxed, high, intoxicated, or tired from the use of marijuana. Waffle House employees have probably seen these signs on many of their customers at three-o clock Saturday morning when they come in hungry or thirsty as a result of the munchies.

Some other effects that come from smoking marijuana are paranoia, time seems to pass slowly, and users can become engrossed with ordinary sights, sounds, or tastes.

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Even trivial events may seem extremely interesting or funny. When such early effects fade after two or three hours users often become sleepy (Monroe 1998). Coming down is the phrase most smokers of pot associate with the stage of a high when the user gets sleepy.

One good reason for legalizing marijuana is that it is actually safer than alcohol, which is also a drug, but is legal to buy. Marijuana is not some manufactured substance put together by geek pharmocologists in a crack loft, and it hasn t been distilled and set out to age like alcohol. Instead, marijuana is organic to the Earth and grows just about everywhere in nature, just like corn or wheat (Mano 19990). Marijuana also does not cause cirrhosis of the liver and ulcers, users do not get hangovers, nor do they get bad breath as they may with alcohol. Yet, alcohol is legal, but you can go to jail for pot (Mano 1990). Along with the perks of marijuana, there are also a few very minute negative aspects associated with it.

Marijuana has not been proven to be physically addicting, meaning that when a user is taken off of marijuana he/she will not become sick from not having it. However, a user can become psychologically addicted to the drug, which means that he/she may think they need the drug while in all actuality they do not. One

thing that can be very dangerous with buying marijuana is a person may not know what they get when they buy weed from a dealer they do not know. To increase profits some dealers lace the weed with different drugs, such as LSD, or speed (methamphetamine). Some other negative effects of marijuana are problem with

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Short-term memory loss, distorted perceptions of sights, sounds, time, and touch, trouble with thinking, loss of coordination and balance, and increased risk of anxiety and panic attacks (Monroe 1998).

There are many different uses for marijuana, not only is it safer than alcohol, it can also help in treating some medical problems. If you were to look at the negative effects of marijuana mentioned earlier they are some of the same things associated with the use of alcohol. However, alcohol is legal to buy and drink, but weed is not. When people are able to look past all the hype that the media and grandparents have put on weed we may be able to see marijuana legalized. However, until this happens marijuana will remain illegal and alcohol will probably remain the drug of choice.


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