Running head: DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA
An Alternate Reality: The Decriminalization of Marijuana
David Allen Fettke
Axia College of The University of Phoenix
An Alternate Reality: The Decriminalization of Marijuana
Ah yes, the Evil Weed, a.k.a., pot, Cannabis, Bud, Green, Mary Jane, Dank, Puff the Magic Dragon, even “The Gateway Drug” are among some of the names of the psychoactive plant Marijuana. Mankind has known about and used Marijuana for different purposes for thousands of years. The flower children of the sixties smoked to enlighten themselves. The Chinese, among others, used it for medicine thousands of years ago. The first settlers of America used hemp for paper, clothing and rope. So far this so called “Evil Weed” does not sound so harmful. In fact, it is not as harmful as it has been made out to be over the years. Everything from prejudice to misinformation has been the reason for this plant to be made illegal. In actuality, society can benefit from Marijuana being legalized and decriminalized. Today, there are thousands of Americans flooding our legal system because of petty marijuana charges, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. We know that it helps cancer and aids patients live a much more comfortable life because of the properties it holds. If it is a “Gateway Drug” then it is because of how it has to be obtained, on the street where drug dealers would be happy for you to try there other dangerous products such as crack and heroin. If compared to the legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and their risks, Marijuana seems like a “Walk in the Park”. At least it could make for a nice enjoyable one. The reality here is, the legalization of Marijuana could benefit society. If the people of our country could look beyond politics, discrimination, and passed misjudgments to see the true benefits Marijuana carries, the decriminalization of the so called “evil weed” could have a great and positive impact on our society with medical marijuana, reducing unnecessary costs in our legal system and by being a taxable commodity.
Through all of history, man has known about and used Marijuana. Some believe that if it were discovered today, it would be considered a miracle drug for it’s medicinal properties. The use of Marijuana can be traced back before 7000 B.C. when it is believed that the first woven fabrics were made of hemp (Pete Guither, 2002). Growing Marijuana even has history with some American Presidents. George Washington’s main crop at Mt. Vernon was hemp, and it was Thomas Jefferson’s second largest crop at Monticello. “Marijuana has been illegal for less than one percent of the time that it’s been in use…and it was legal as recently as when Ronald Reagan was a boy (Pete Guither, 2002).” So if Marijuana has such a long history and has very legitimate uses, why did it become and why does it remain illegal? In the 1900’s there was a huge number of Americans addicted to drugs. Many more than there are today. Depending upon whose report, or whose assessment you accept, there were between two and five percent of the entire adult population of the United States addicted to drugs in 1900 (Whitebread, 1995). You can imagine that there was some worry. Most of these addictions involved morphine and it’s derivatives, being used for legitimate medical practices. What happened is, Marijuana being a relatively unknown substance in the early 1900’s, got mixed up in the problems America was having with Morphine, Alcohol and even Cocaine. At the time there had not been any studies or anything of the like, to prove that Marijuana was a harmful substance, but there was racial prejudice and fear of substitution. In the 1930’s Marijuana was very new to the national scene yet some states prohibited it along with narcotics and alcohol that were prohibited nationally. Why? Unfortunately racial prejudice played a major roll in making Marijuana an “evil weed”. Increases in Mexican immigration at the turn of the century brought...
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