The History Of Marijuana Essay Research Paper

The History Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper The modern history of marijuana dates back to the 1930’s. People didn’t care whether it was heroin, cocaine, morphine, marijuana or opium, one horror was no worse than the other. This reflected both the lack

The History Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

The modern history of marijuana dates back to the 1930’s. People didn’t care whether it was heroin,

cocaine, morphine, marijuana or opium, one horror was no worse than the other. This reflected both the lack

of scientific knowledge and morbid exaggeration that have characterized much of the discussion of marijuana

since that time. A large and growing body of scientific information about marijuana has now been reported in

the press. Attitudes toward marijuana are starting to become more thoughtful and sophisticated. The use of

marijuana is still very much the drug of choice of young people. Pot smoking is no longer the deviant

behavior of a few. It is normal social practice for all kinds of people-conservatives as well as radicals,

working people as well as students.

A new trend in marijuana smoking is adult use. Older people also use marijuana regularly. Studies of

marijuana use among older professional groups early in 1976 showed that in geographical areas of high use,

there were numbers of professional and other upper middle class people who make fairly regular recreational

use of the drug.

Another sign of sophistication in the marijuana picture is that much more is known about it now. The new

knowledge has not added up to a universally agreed-upon body of facts. Those holding opposing viewpoints

on marijuana disagree chiefly on whether “recreational” use is harmful, and whether its possession should be

legally permissible.

The smoking of pot began to spread up the Mississippi from New Orleans and Mexico in the 1920’s,

mostly in the hands of Mexican labor workers, black riverboatmen and jazz musicians. Hemp grown for the

fibers and cannabis mixtures for medical purposes were known in this country long before that. Recreational

use of the substance was virtually unknown in the United States. Marijuana in a reefer to be smoked, as

introduced from south of the border in the early years of the century, is still the form of cannabis generally

used in this country.

The cannabis plant itself grows freely almost everywhere in the world, except for the cold regions. The

plants fall into three different groups with those from tropical climates markedly richer in THC than those from

cooler climates. The part of the plant used makes a difference in potency in a reefer (also known as joint or

reefer). The female of the plant was long considered the potent partner, with the male almost without

intoxicant content. In the past, male plants were weeded out to keep the female unfertilized and therefore

supposedly more productive in chemicals.

Throughout history people have experimented with every part of the plant and developed dozens of

preparations of smoking, eating, drinking, or sniffing the vapor as it burns. Effects vary according to the

way preparation is taken in. Smoking the American joint also may have varying effectiveness. First time users

often report feeling no effect at all and practiced users experience different degrees of “high”. Experienced

users inhale slowly and hold in the smoke as long as possible. This is one reason marijuana smoking is usually

done in company, so that the joint can be passed on to someone else-not allowed to burn up wastefully while

the smoke is held.

Experimentation with THC and other parts of the plant have demonstrated al number of effects that could

be medically beneficial. None of the experiments has yet resulted in an acceptable, approved medication, but

researchers are hopeful that some of them will. One possible beneficial effect of THC is bronchodilation,

which may be helpful in asthma and the common cold, among other breathing disorders. Cannabis has also

been shown to decrease pressure within the eyes, this checking the effects of glaucoma. Marijuana may not

prove useful because of the tolerance to it that users develop. Also in special interest is the effect of cannabis

in controlling vomiting. Some researchers considerate useful as a mild painkiller and also as a sedative, but

continued use seems to cause rebound wakefulness.

Several scientific reports have suggested possible harmful effects. These have included chromosome

damage, brain damage, damage to white blood cells, possible sex debility, lung damage, and damage to the

personality. Some investigators consider it a sign of brain damage when pot smokers show the so-called

“antimotivational syndrome”-when they “drop out”, and opt the hippie viewpoint that so disturbed the older

generation in the 1960’s. Some studies have said that people using marijuana on a regular basis take the

chance of having abnormal offspring or developing forms of cancer. It does seem likely that if a person

smoked pot as heavily and for as many years as the usual tobacco smoker he would run the same risk for cancer

and would perhaps get it sooner. Other scientists point to the fact that chromosome studies look at the

chromosomes in blood cells, not those in the reproductive system, and no-one has ever tied actual genetic or

newborn abnormalities to ordinary marijuana use. Although damage to unborn animals from high doses of

THC in the pregnant mother have been noted, no such effect has been seen in humans. In any case, these

speculations do not apply to light, recreational use of marijuana.

Research has demonstrated the human body develops a tolerance to marijuana. This tolerance has shown

no sign of being related to addiction as seen with other drugs. Marijuana use any of the other signs of physical

dependence, such as withdrawal symptoms when the habitual user tries to quit. Psychological and emotional

does however occur. An old argument against marijuana is that it leads to other drug use. No one has been

able to demonstrate a chemical or psychological connection between cannabis and other drugs. The

connection if any is a social one, possibly one of personality. A person inclined to drug use may start with

marijuana and go on to other drugs-not because of the pot, but because of a personality need. The same

questionable connection exists between marijuana and crime.

Marijuana is not “safe”. No drug is completely safe, not aspirin and certainly not alcohol. But a fair

conclusion seems to be that light, recreational use of marijuana by adults as generally practiced in this country

has not shown ant evidence of being harmful. As with alcohol, casual use is virtually safe; more extensive

abuse may be increasingly dangerous. A cannabis “high” while occurring , may expose one to immediate

errors of judgment and movement, but to a much less degree than intoxication with alcohol. Heavy doses and

long time use may be detrimental, particularly with regard to the lungs and perhaps in other respects not yet

proven in long range studies.

Eight states have decriminalized the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, making it a civil

offense subject to minor punishment that does not include a criminal arrest record. Most states have made pot

possession a misdemeanor rather than a felony, with others moving in that direction. Obviously the fight over

marijuana is continuing, although the principle of decriminalizing marijuana has not yet been generally

accepted.

Whatever the ultimate decision as to harmfulness, many people young and old, will choose not to use

marijuana. There is good reason still for a thumbs-down attitude regarding the drug. Casual use has not been

found to be damaging, but there is still a chance that it is. Certainly the cruel shock of an encounter with the

law is still real enough. However small the risk, many people consider it too great for the potential pleasure.

Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannabis sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts as early as

2700 B.C.. in China. (Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998). The cultivation of the marijuana plant began

as far back as the Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp produced from the marijuana plant’s

fibers to make rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing because of its durability. These uses fit

with the social climate of the time, because the main focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive

purposes.

Beginning in the 60’s marijuana use saw a resurgence which may be attributed to many causes. One of

the main causes was the rebellion of youth against the Vietnam War. They used marijuana as an escape from

was to peace. It was easy at this time to depict marijuana as a beneficial and completely harmless substance

whose effect were far less harmful than those of legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine because there was not

enough scientific research done during the 60’s (Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg. 54).

The current atmosphere provides for doctor to suggest synthetic marijuana (THC) in a pure and

standardized form by prescription (called Marinol) for the treatment of nausea associated cancer

chemotherapy. Also, although is no scientific evidence that shows marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of

glaucoma, it may prevent the progression of visual loss. Marijuana, along with alcohol and a host of other

substances, can actually lower intraocular pressure. The medication however, must be carefully tailored to

the individual to prevent further eye damage.

Marijuana effects are primarily sedative and hallucinogenic mainly effecting the cardiovascular and central

nervous system. Physiologically the heart rate increases and the blood vessels in the eyes dilate, causing

reddening, and the appetite for food is increased. Though physical dependence has never been determined,

users do develop a tolerance to the drug. Todays research does still suggest that marijuana smoke does have

long term harmful effects on the lungs. One of the long-term consequences are the cancer causing effects of

marijuana. Also, the production of the male sex hormone testosterone is reduced while females experience

menstrual irregularity and reduced and decreased fertility has now been shown from marijuana use.

There has been new medical uses found for marijuana. One is that it stimulates the appetite of AIDS

patients with wasting syndrome. Since the mid 1990’s there has been a push to legalize the drug to serve the

needs of many such patient who need it. Though several states have approved initiatives to permit physicians

to prescribe the drug, the U.S. government continues to appose any kind of legalization of marijuana.

The 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that 10.1 million Americans used marijuana

regularly. The same survey showed that in 1995, 8.2% of teenagers use the drug on a regular basis, while in

1998 that dropped to 7.1%(Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998).Marijuana use usually begins between the

ages of 12 and 18, mostly because of curiosity. Many people who try marijuana use it only a few times or

very infrequently, while others become regular users. Some regular users become dependent and have a great

difficulty stopping its use. Though people believe that marijuana improves their talents and capabilities,

scientists have found that it does impair all abilities (World Book Encyclopedia, 1999).

In a recent study, researchers traced the record of more than 65,000 San Francisco Bay Area members of

the Kaiser Permanent Health Plan for an average of ten years. They found no increase in the deaths among the

14,0000 patients who Said they were marijuana users between 1979 and 1987 (San Francisco Chronicle,

1997). AIDS patients were the only group pot smokers found to have a higher death rate than the either

nonsmokers. But their mortality rate was virtually the same as it was for the AIDS patient who didn’t smoke

marijuana. Though marijuana doesn’t cause death, it does expose smokers to a criminals and violence,

by branding marijuana a crime is exposing smokers to these hazards. It also can lead to risky sexual behavior

and impair driving ability. Marijuana smokers have also been shown to make more clinic visits for coughs,

colds, and flu than non-smokers.

A far as life experiences go I know that I have seen allot in my 30 years of life. First of all, growing up as

a teenager in the 80’s , marijuana and every other drug was readily available to me in my neighborhood. It has

been very clear to me that pot is the most forgiving of all the drugs out there including alcohol. I have never

seen anyone get ill from smoking marijuana, let alone overdose. .A person could probably smoke a whole bag

of marijuana and all that would happen is they would get the munchies and go to sleep. I think that if the

government would legalize this harmless drug everyone would get along better and the government would have

a new source of revenue. Also, there would be a lot less overcrowding in our jails and our policemen could be

out hunting real criminals , getting off the back of people committing a victimless crime.

Evidence has clearly shown that marijuana has been around for a long time and has served a multiple of

purposes throughout history. If the government legalized it today, we would immediately see the benefits of

this decision. People suffering from illnesses such as AIDS and cancer would be able to experience relief.

The government could make billions of dollars off the taxes it could impose on its sale, and its implementation

into the industrial world would create thousands of new jobs into the economy. Also because of its role in

paper making, many of our forests could be saved from extinction. No recorded deaths have ever occurred

as a result of marijuana use, it is not physically addictive like alcohol or tobacco. Marijuana being illegal has

no validity at all. Due to all the positive aspects of marijuana it should be legalized in the United States.

The modern history of marijuana dates back to the 1930’s. People didn’t care whether it was heroin,

cocaine, morphine, marijuana or opium, one horror was no worse than the other. This reflected both the lack

of scientific knowledge and morbid exaggeration that have characterized much of the discussion of marijuana

since that time. A large and growing body of scientific information about marijuana has now been reported in

the press. Attitudes toward marijuana are starting to become more thoughtful and sophisticated. The use of

marijuana is still very much the drug of choice of young people. Pot smoking is no longer the deviant

behavior of a few. It is normal social practice for all kinds of people-conservatives as well as radicals,

working people as well as students.

A new trend in marijuana smoking is adult use. Older people also use marijuana regularly. Studies of

marijuana use among older professional groups early in 1976 showed that in geographical areas of high use,

there were numbers of professional and other upper middle class people who make fairly regular recreational

use of the drug.

Another sign of sophistication in the marijuana picture is that much more is known about it now. The new

knowledge has not added up to a universally agreed-upon body of facts. Those holding opposing viewpoints

on marijuana disagree chiefly on whether “recreational” use is harmful, and whether its possession should be

legally permissible.

The smoking of pot began to spread up the Mississippi from New Orleans and Mexico in the 1920’s,

mostly in the hands of Mexican labor workers, black riverboatmen and jazz musicians. Hemp grown for the

fibers and cannabis mixtures for medical purposes were known in this country long before that. Recreational

use of the substance was virtually unknown in the United States. Marijuana in a reefer to be smoked, as

introduced from south of the border in the early years of the century, is still the form of cannabis generally

used in this country.

The cannabis plant itself grows freely almost everywhere in the world, except for the cold regions. The

plants fall into three different groups with those from tropical climates markedly richer in THC than those from

cooler climates. The part of the plant used makes a difference in potency in a reefer (also known as joint or

reefer). The female of the plant was long considered the potent partner, with the male almost without

intoxicant content. In the past, male plants were weeded out to keep the female unfertilized and therefore

supposedly more productive in chemicals.

Throughout history people have experimented with every part of the plant and developed dozens of

preparations of smoking, eating, drinking, or sniffing the vapor as it burns. Effects vary according to the

way preparation is taken in. Smoking the American joint also may have varying effectiveness. First time users

often report feeling no effect at all and practiced users experience different degrees of “high”. Experienced

users inhale slowly and hold in the smoke as long as possible. This is one reason marijuana smoking is usually

done in company, so that the joint can be passed on to someone else-not allowed to burn up wastefully while

the smoke is held.

Experimentation with THC and other parts of the plant have demonstrated al number of effects that could

be medically beneficial. None of the experiments has yet resulted in an acceptable, approved medication, but

researchers are hopeful that some of them will. One possible beneficial effect of THC is bronchodilation,

which may be helpful in asthma and the common cold, among other breathing disorders. Cannabis has also

been shown to decrease pressure within the eyes, this checking the effects of glaucoma. Marijuana may not

prove useful because of the tolerance to it that users develop. Also in special interest is the effect of cannabis

in controlling vomiting. Some researchers considerate useful as a mild painkiller and also as a sedative, but

continued use seems to cause rebound wakefulness.

Several scientific reports have suggested possible harmful effects. These have included chromosome

damage, brain damage, damage to white blood cells, possible sex debility, lung damage, and damage to the

personality. Some investigators consider it a sign of brain damage when pot smokers show the so-called

“antimotivational syndrome”-when they “drop out”, and opt the hippie viewpoint that so disturbed the older

generation in the 1960’s. Some studies have said that people using marijuana on a regular basis take the

chance of having abnormal offspring or developing forms of cancer. It does seem likely that if a person

smoked pot as heavily and for as many years as the usual tobacco smoker he would run the same risk for cancer

and would perhaps get it sooner. Other scientists point to the fact that chromosome studies look at the

chromosomes in blood cells, not those in the reproductive system, and no-one has ever tied actual genetic or

newborn abnormalities to ordinary marijuana use. Although damage to unborn animals from high doses of

THC in the pregnant mother have been noted, no such effect has been seen in humans. In any case, these

speculations do not apply to light, recreational use of marijuana.

Research has demonstrated the human body develops a tolerance to marijuana. This tolerance has shown

no sign of being related to addiction as seen with other drugs. Marijuana use any of the other signs of physical

dependence, such as withdrawal symptoms when the habitual user tries to quit. Psychological and emotional

does however occur. An old argument against marijuana is that it leads to other drug use. No one has been

able to demonstrate a chemical or psychological connection between cannabis and other drugs. The

connection if any is a social one, possibly one of personality. A person inclined to drug use may start with

marijuana and go on to other drugs-not because of the pot, but because of a personality need. The same

questionable connection exists between marijuana and crime.

Marijuana is not “safe”. No drug is completely safe, not aspirin and certainly not alcohol. But a fair

conclusion seems to be that light, recreational use of marijuana by adults as generally practiced in this country

has not shown ant evidence of being harmful. As with alcohol, casual use is virtually safe; more extensive

abuse may be increasingly dangerous. A cannabis “high” while occurring , may expose one to immediate

errors of judgment and movement, but to a much less degree than intoxication with alcohol. Heavy doses and

long time use may be detrimental, particularly with regard to the lungs and perhaps in other respects not yet

proven in long range studies.

Eight states have decriminalized the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, making it a civil

offense subject to minor punishment that does not include a criminal arrest record. Most states have made pot

possession a misdemeanor rather than a felony, with others moving in that direction. Obviously the fight over

marijuana is continuing, although the principle of decriminalizing marijuana has not yet been generally

accepted.

Whatever the ultimate decision as to harmfulness, many people young and old, will choose not to use

marijuana. There is good reason still for a thumbs-down attitude regarding the drug. Casual use has not been

found to be damaging, but there is still a chance that it is. Certainly the cruel shock of an encounter with the

law is still real enough. However small the risk, many people consider it too great for the potential pleasure.

Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannabis sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts as early as

2700 B.C.. in China. (Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998). The cultivation of the marijuana plant began

as far back as the Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp produced from the marijuana plant’s

fibers to make rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing because of its durability. These uses fit

with the social climate of the time, because the main focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive

purposes.

Beginning in the 60’s marijuana use saw a resurgence which may be attributed to many causes. One of

the main causes was the rebellion of youth against the Vietnam War. They used marijuana as an escape from

was to peace. It was easy at this time to depict marijuana as a beneficial and completely harmless substance

whose effect were far less harmful than those of legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine because there was not

enough scientific research done during the 60’s (Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg. 54).

The current atmosphere provides for doctor to suggest synthetic marijuana (THC) in a pure and

standardized form by prescription (called Marinol) for the treatment of nausea associated cancer

chemotherapy. Also, although is no scientific evidence that shows marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of

glaucoma, it may prevent the progression of visual loss. Marijuana, along with alcohol and a host of other

substances, can actually lower intraocular pressure. The medication however, must be carefully tailored to

the individual to prevent further eye damage.

Marijuana effects are primarily sedative and hallucinogenic mainly effecting the cardiovascular and central

nervous system. Physiologically the heart rate increases and the blood vessels in the eyes dilate, causing

reddening, and the appetite for food is increased. Though physical dependence has never been determined,

users do develop a tolerance to the drug. Todays research does still suggest that marijuana smoke does have

long term harmful effects on the lungs. One of the long-term consequences are the cancer causing effects of

marijuana. Also, the production of the male sex hormone testosterone is reduced while females experience

menstrual irregularity and reduced and decreased fertility has now been shown from marijuana use.

There has been new medical uses found for marijuana. One is that it stimulates the appetite of AIDS

patients with wasting syndrome. Since the mid 1990’s there has been a push to legalize the drug to serve the

needs of many such patient who need it. Though several states have approved initiatives to permit physicians

to prescribe the drug, the U.S. government continues to appose any kind of legalization of marijuana.

The 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that 10.1 million Americans used marijuana

regularly. The same survey showed that in 1995, 8.2% of teenagers use the drug on a regular basis, while in

1998 that dropped to 7.1%(Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998).Marijuana use usually begins between the

ages of 12 and 18, mostly because of curiosity. Many people who try marijuana use it only a few times or

very infrequently, while others become regular users. Some regular users become dependent and have a great

difficulty stopping its use. Though people believe that marijuana improves their talents and capabilities,

scientists have found that it does impair all abilities (World Book Encyclopedia, 1999).

In a recent study, researchers traced the record of more than 65,000 San Francisco Bay Area members of

the Kaiser Permanent Health Plan for an average of ten years. They found no increase in the deaths among the

14,0000 patients who Said they were marijuana users between 1979 and 1987 (San Francisco Chronicle,

1997). AIDS patients were the only group pot smokers found to have a higher death rate than the either

nonsmokers. But their mortality rate was virtually the same as it was for the AIDS patient who didn’t smoke

marijuana. Though marijuana doesn’t cause death, it does expose smokers to a criminals and violence,

by branding marijuana a crime is exposing smokers to these hazards. It also can lead to risky sexual behavior

and impair driving ability. Marijuana smokers have also been shown to make more clinic visits for coughs,

colds, and flu than non-smokers.

A far as life experiences go I know that I have seen allot in my 30 years of life. First of all, growing up as

a teenager in the 80’s , marijuana and every other drug was readily available to me in my neighborhood. It has

been very clear to me that pot is the most forgiving of all the drugs out there including alcohol. I have never

seen anyone get ill from smoking marijuana, let alone overdose. .A person could probably smoke a whole bag

of marijuana and all that would happen is they would get the munchies and go to sleep. I think that if the

government would legalize this harmless drug everyone would get along better and the government would have

a new source of revenue. Also, there would be a lot less overcrowding in our jails and our policemen could be

out hunting real criminals , getting off the back of people committing a victimless crime.

Evidence has clearly shown that marijuana has been around for a long time and has served a multiple of

purposes throughout history. If the government legalized it today, we would immediately see the benefits of

this decision. People suffering from illnesses such as AIDS and cancer would be able to experience relief.

The government could make billions of dollars off the taxes it could impose on its sale, and its implementation

into the industrial world would create thousands of new jobs into the economy. Also because of its role in

paper making, many of our forests could be saved from extinction. No recorded deaths have ever occurred

as a result of marijuana use, it is not physically addictive like alcohol or tobacco. Marijuana being illegal has

no validity at all. Due to all the positive aspects of marijuana it should be legalized in the United States.

The modern history of marijuana dates back to the 1930’s. People didn’t care whether it was heroin,

cocaine, morphine, marijuana or opium, one horror was no worse than the other. This reflected both the lack

of scientific knowledge and morbid exaggeration that have characterized much of the discussion of marijuana

since that time. A large and growing body of scientific information about marijuana has now been reported in

the press. Attitudes toward marijuana are starting to become more thoughtful and sophisticated. The use of

marijuana is still very much the drug of choice of young people. Pot smoking is no longer the deviant

behavior of a few. It is normal social practice for all kinds of people-conservatives as well as radicals,

working people as well as students.

A new trend in marijuana smoking is adult use. Older people also use marijuana regularly. Studies of

marijuana use among older professional groups early in 1976 showed that in geographical areas of high use,

there were numbers of professional and other upper middle class people who make fairly regular recreational

use of the drug.

Another sign of sophistication in the marijuana picture is that much more is known about it now. The new

knowledge has not added up to a universally agreed-upon body of facts. Those holding opposing viewpoints

on marijuana disagree chiefly on whether “recreational” use is harmful, and whether its possession should be

legally permissible.

The smoking of pot began to spread up the Mississippi from New Orleans and Mexico in the 1920’s,

mostly in the hands of Mexican labor workers, black riverboatmen and jazz musicians. Hemp grown for the

fibers and cannabis mixtures for medical purposes were known in this country long before that. Recreational

use of the substance was virtually unknown in the United States. Marijuana in a reefer to be smoked, as

introduced from south of the border in the early years of the century, is still the form of cannabis generally

used in this country.

The cannabis plant itself grows freely almost everywhere in the world, except for the cold regions. The

plants fall into three different groups with those from tropical climates markedly richer in THC than those from

cooler climates. The part of the plant used makes a difference in potency in a reefer (also known as joint or

reefer). The female of the plant was long considered the potent partner, with the male almost without

intoxicant content. In the past, male plants were weeded out to keep the female unfertilized and therefore

supposedly more productive in chemicals.

Throughout history people have experimented with every part of the plant and developed dozens of

preparations of smoking, eating, drinking, or sniffing the vapor as it burns. Effects vary according to the

way preparation is taken in. Smoking the American joint also may have varying effectiveness. First time users

often report feeling no effect at all and practiced users experience different degrees of “high”. Experienced

users inhale slowly and hold in the smoke as long as possible. This is one reason marijuana smoking is usually

done in company, so that the joint can be passed on to someone else-not allowed to burn up wastefully while

the smoke is held.

Experimentation with THC and other parts of the plant have demonstrated al number of effects that could

be medically beneficial. None of the experiments has yet resulted in an acceptable, approved medication, but

researchers are hopeful that some of them will. One possible beneficial effect of THC is bronchodilation,

which may be helpful in asthma and the common cold, among other breathing disorders. Cannabis has also

been shown to decrease pressure within the eyes, this checking the effects of glaucoma. Marijuana may not

prove useful because of the tolerance to it that users develop. Also in special interest is the effect of cannabis

in controlling vomiting. Some researchers considerate useful as a mild painkiller and also as a sedative, but

continued use seems to cause rebound wakefulness.

Several scientific reports have suggested possible harmful effects. These have included chromosome

damage, brain damage, damage to white blood cells, possible sex debility, lung damage, and damage to the

personality. Some investigators consider it a sign of brain damage when pot smokers show the so-called

“antimotivational syndrome”-when they “drop out”, and opt the hippie viewpoint that so disturbed the older

generation in the 1960’s. Some studies have said that people using marijuana on a regular basis take the

chance of having abnormal offspring or developing forms of cancer. It does seem likely that if a person

smoked pot as heavily and for as many years as the usual tobacco smoker he would run the same risk for cancer

and would perhaps get it sooner. Other scientists point to the fact that chromosome studies look at the

chromosomes in blood cells, not those in the reproductive system, and no-one has ever tied actual genetic or

newborn abnormalities to ordinary marijuana use. Although damage to unborn animals from high doses of

THC in the pregnant mother have been noted, no such effect has been seen in humans. In any case, these

speculations do not apply to light, recreational use of marijuana.

Research has demonstrated the human body develops a tolerance to marijuana. This tolerance has shown

no sign of being related to addiction as seen with other drugs. Marijuana use any of the other signs of physical

dependence, such as withdrawal symptoms when the habitual user tries to quit. Psychological and emotional

does however occur. An old argument against marijuana is that it leads to other drug use. No one has been

able to demonstrate a chemical or psychological connection between cannabis and other drugs. The

connection if any is a social one, possibly one of personality. A person inclined to drug use may start with

marijuana and go on to other drugs-not because of the pot, but because of a personality need. The same

questionable connection exists between marijuana and crime.

Marijuana is not “safe”. No drug is completely safe, not aspirin and certainly not alcohol. But a fair

conclusion seems to be that light, recreational use of marijuana by adults as generally practiced in this country

has not shown ant evidence of being harmful. As with alcohol, casual use is virtually safe; more extensive

abuse may be increasingly dangerous. A cannabis “high” while occurring , may expose one to immediate

errors of judgment and movement, but to a much less degree than intoxication with alcohol. Heavy doses and

long time use may be detrimental, particularly with regard to the lungs and perhaps in other respects not yet

proven in long range studies.

Eight states have decriminalized the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, making it a civil

offense subject to minor punishment that does not include a criminal arrest record. Most states have made pot

possession a misdemeanor rather than a felony, with others moving in that direction. Obviously the fight over

marijuana is continuing, although the principle of decriminalizing marijuana has not yet been generally

accepted.

Whatever the ultimate decision as to harmfulness, many people young and old, will choose not to use

marijuana. There is good reason still for a thumbs-down attitude regarding the drug. Casual use has not been

found to be damaging, but there is still a chance that it is. Certainly the cruel shock of an encounter with the

law is still real enough. However small the risk, many people consider it too great for the potential pleasure.

Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannabis sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts as early as

2700 B.C.. in China. (Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998). The cultivation of the marijuana plant began

as far back as the Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp produced from the marijuana plant’s

fibers to make rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing because of its durability. These uses fit

with the social climate of the time, because the main focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive

purposes.

Beginning in the 60’s marijuana use saw a resurgence which may be attributed to many caus

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