Thursday, April 17, 2003

Drum roll please. Here it is: the A paper I've been telling you about:

Marijuana Use Should Not Be A Crime
By Amanda
Marijuana use in the United States should be legalized because anti-drug laws are based on myths and misinformation. Marijuana has medicinal uses and is not as damaging, physically and psychologically, as previously thougnt. As a cash crop, it has the potential to positively impact our current troubled economy.

One of the biggest myths about marijuana is that it is a gateway drug. There is no scientific basis for this myth. Marijuana users are no more or less likely to branch off into the use of other drugs than people who drink alcohol are to become heroin addicts. In fact, "Escalation from marihuana to heroin is a rare phenomenon that would involve a radical shift in values and life-style." (Rock, 119)

Another misconception is that if marijuana is legalized, everyone will become addicted. As with any group of people, there will be some who are predisposed to addictive behavior, hence drug abusers will exhibit this behavior whether or not it is legal. Legalizing marijuana will not necassarily increase or decrease the number of addicts.

A major point in the fight against legalization of marijuana is that it causes otherwise productive people to become lazy and unmotivated. There is no evidence to prove this. On the contrary, "Large numbers of successful, energetic people indulge with no external negative consequences other than the risk of legal sanctions."(Eldredge, 25) Also, "Marijuana's pharmacological properties are so limited that an experienced user can perform any normal tasks without measurable imparment."(Miller, 18) An example of this is a man who consumes an average of three ounces of marijuana a week, has a stable work history as a collection agent, and has recently been promoted to supervisor with no knowledge of his marijuana use to his employer.

The United States' Drug Enforcement Agency's arguement against medicinal marijuana use is "marijuana is damaging" ( to individuals with AIDS and cancer, and "no medicine prescribed for us today is smoked." ( They argue that in AIDS patients, marijuana is damaging to the immune system, and, in cancer patients, that smoking marijuana in itself is cancer inducing. This may be true, but their arguement does not acknowledge the symptoms marijuana alleviates. For instance, marijuana curbs nausea in cancer patients brought on my rigorous chemotherapy and in AIDS patients who are prescribed AZT. It is also known to increase appetite which is important for these patients who often suffer from malnutrition.

The physical effect of smoking marijuana is lung damage associated with smoking any item, but other than that it is virtually harmless. A lethal dosage has not been calculated, but animal testing shows if a person were to eat twenty-four ounces at one time, they could possibly die. Also, "Deaths from marijuana overdose are no more common than deaths from drinking too many glasses of water at one sitting." (Miller, 19) The foods we eat and the liquids we drink are more harmful to us than marijuana because they are full of harmful chemical wast produced by our own government.

The psychological effects of marijuana are also not as adverse as they were once thought to be. "Users' psychological reactions are created entirely by set and settings rather than by pharmacological action." (Miller, 18) Marijuana is considered to be a universal drug producing the effect that the user desires, so if a user desires to become angry, they will become angry, however if the effect the user seeks is a calm mellow state, they will achieve this effect.

In 1997 marijuana was in the top ten cash crops of forty-seven of the forty-eight states for which information was available and the number one cash crop in ten of those states. Marijuana has been called "one of the most useful plants known to man," (Szasz, 93) which, in the past, has been used to make rope, clothing, paper, oil, and "even the cloth Betsy Ross used to sew the American Flag." (McCarthy, 1) Figures on production costs for marijuana are not available, but if comparable to the cost of other farm crops, "a stand of 300 mature plants can produce marijuana worth $1,000,000 (wholesale) per annual harvest." (Eldredge, 42)

The price of marijuana is in close contention with the price of gold. Americans spend about $57,000,000,000 on drugs each year, from which, if regulated and taxed properly, the government could secure great financial gain. Marijuana retails for between $100 and $300 an ounce; a pack of cigarettes contains an ounce of tobacco and retails between $2 and $4. With virtually no overhead when compared to the tobacco industry, marijuana is a highly profitable business.

The cost of law enforcement would also decrease greatly if marijuana were legalized. Texas alone has fourty-seven Drug Task Forces funded by federal government. State and Federal governments wastefully and disadventageously spend between $7.5 and $10 billion annually on marijuana smokers alone to enforce drug laws with a great rate of failure. These funds could be easily redirected to many underfunded social programs such as health care and education.

If marijuana were legalized in the United States, we would be a calmer, happier nation. Our economy would flourish, terminally ill people could get the relief they deserve, and marijuana smokers who are otherwise law abiding citizens could potentially be crime free.

Works Cited

Eldredge, Dirk Chase. Ending the War on Drugs. Bridgehampton, NY" Bridge Works Publishing, 1998.
Just Say No to Searches!. 23 July 1999. DrugSense. 8 Feb. 2003 .
McCarthy, Moira. "It's Not Pot: Hemp May be the New 90's Cash Crop." Snow Country. Sep. 1996: 32. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCOhost. Rose State Coll. Lib., Midwest City. 9 Feb. 2003 .
Miller, Richard Lawrence. The Case for Legalizing Drugs. New York: Praeger, 1991.
NORML Report on Sixty Years of Marijuana Prohibition in the U.S..12 March 2002. NORML. 9 Feb. 2003 .
Rock, Paul E., ed. Drugs and Politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1997.
Say it Straight: The Medical Myths of Marijuana. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. 9 Feb. 2003 .
Szasz, Thomas.Our Right to Drugs: The Case For a Free Market. New York: Praeger, 1992.
Top Ten Cash Crops. NORML. 9 Feb. 2003 .

This has been my paper. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.