Ok so for one of my classes I was asked to do a project that simply had to relate, in some way shape or form, to American Politics and Media. I, of course, chose cannabis, since I've done a great deal of research already and would be a great chance to expand what I know on the subject as well. Here is half the paper. It has to be 25 min. long and when I read it it's about 13-15 min. long, so it's a little over halfway. What is Cannabis? The plant Cannabis Sativa is a large perennial plant that can be grown in nearly any climate around the world, but thrives in the equatorial regions. It grows in highly nitrous soil, high humidity, and high temperature climates. The first recorded writings concerning the plant (other than hints and various sightings within the Bible and the Hindu Text, the Rig Veda) first occur in the writings of the Islamic chronicler, al-Marqrizi (1364-1442). He claims that in 1155, the founder of the Persian Sufi Hyderi sect, Haydar, consumed the flowering tops of a plant atop a high mountain when searching for food on one of his walks. For the rest of his days, Marqrizi claims, Haydar consumed the plant regularly and lived a life of seemingly endless benevolence and was in a constant state of tranquility and happiness. One way or another, Cannabis was first discovered not for its euphoric properties, but was founded rather on a search for food. Indeed, the cannabis seed contains a vast quantity of essential fatty acids and is the second largest protein producing botanical byproduct (second only to the soy bean). It must not have been long, however, before ingesting the flowering tops in search for seeds, that human beings became aware of the psychoactive intoxicant contained within the oils coating the flowers. The flowers of the female Cannabis plant are coated in an oil-based resin that, in nature, is believed to act for the plant’s benefit in two ways. One is that the resin is believed to block out ultraviolet rays from the sun, protecting the seeds from harmful radiation. The other is that the psychoactive compounds coating the resin would deter various animals from consuming it. Obviously the former is more likely than the latter, as the plant has been actively sought out and consumed in vast quantities by man over the ages. The major psychoactive compound of Cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), specifically delta-9 THC, which has been attributed to the chemical most responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive and euphoric effects. Acting in a similar nature to the naturally occuring hormone, anandamide, THC stimulates the nerve receptors of the brain that have been commonly associated with "bliss." (anandamide is also present in cacao, one of the major botanical constituents of chocolate). What THC generally produces is what is termed as a "high." A high is characterized as a change in perception from the norm. Usually smoked through a narghile (water pipe), pipe, or joint (a cannabis cigarette), the cannabis flowers ignite, the THC vaporizes and combusts. When inhaled by the user, the smoke delivers THC directly to the blood stream. Cannabis can also be prepared into various cooked foods or highly alcoholic beverages for more efficient effects. General experiences reported vary greatly from user to user, but most users claim to experience a distortion of time and space, colors appear more intense, a sense of relaxation and gaiety is usually prevalent as well. Unlike most drugs, cannabis has never in the history of mankind caused the death of a single person directly. A THC overdose is indeed possible, but it would take approximately 200,000 joints, or approximately 40,000 pounds of marijuana administered over a time period of six to ten hours. If smoked, the abundance of carbon monoxide would kill the individual before a THC overdose could occur. To my knowledge, nobody in the history of man has attempted such a feat, probably due to the fact that at higher doses of even low-THC cannabis, it usually produces undesirable feelings of extreme paranoia. It is true that smoked cannabis is not good for the user. Cannabis contains approximately 400 chemical compounds, many of which become carcinogenic when ignited. It has been scientifically speculated that smoking a single joint of cannabis is equal to approximately five times as much tar as a single tobacco cigarette, though other studies suggest otherwise. The question then is raised: "so why aren’t all the cannabis users getting cancer?" While there are many carcinogenic compounds in smoked cannabis, they have not yet been proven to be radioactive, unlike the compounds in tobacco. In addition, cannabis also produces various compounds that act as an expectorant, which basically means that it dilates the tissue lining of your throat, opening up the passageways for easier breathing, thusly channeling the smoke out of one’s lungs faster and more efficiently. Finally, the most obvious reason that cannabis users aren’t getting cancer is because they smoke far less cannabis than most tobacco users smoke tobacco. With recent production of vaporization devices, even the harmful carcinogens of cannabis smoke are removed, leaving cannabis with very few ill effects on health. Cannabis has also been proven to be useful throughout the centuries in the medicinal field. Acting on the hypothalamus, THC numbs one’s sense of hunger, giving a slight impression of an empty stomach. This has been proven useful for those being treated with chemotherapy, as the use of cannabis has been proven to revitalize patients’ appetite. In addition, cannabis also acts as an anti-emetic (prevents vomiting), which has also been proven to be an aid to chemotherapy patients. Cannabis is slowly being accepted as one of the more highly efficient forms of pain-reducing agents and one of the best forms of pharmacological therapy available for chemotherapy patients. The negative viewpoints on cannabis throughout the 20<SUP>th</SUP> century have varied in extremity and form from generation to generation. This is mostly due to the fact that many of the "official" statements concerning cannabis were invented to benefit the personal, political, and economic interests of various individuals and industries. American History and Cannabis Cannabis has rooted itself in nearly every region of the world and that region’s history. America is not excluded from this. Given the aforementioned information, one may wonder why, in modern day society we condemn recreational cannabis consumption rather than the far more hazardous alcohol and tobacco; why we condemn medicinal cannabis in favor of far less effective and dangerous drugs, such as aspirin, Ritalin, or Adderal. The answer lies within the analogues of American history, politics, economics, and media. For it was an American whose advocacy for cannabis prohibition that spread it to every corner of the globe, but it was also one of the first Americans who proclaimed cannabis to be of extreme benefit to the American peoples: <DIR><DIR>"Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere."-George Washington 1794 </DIR></DIR>Hemp and American History The industrial aspects of the Cannabis plant have been recognized since the expansion of the Roman Empire, which citizens and soldiers mainly used the broken up fibrous stalks as a form of rope. As is presented in Martin Booth’s Book, Cannabis: A History, one finds that hemp was long spread after the Roman Empire’s vast use of the plant as an industrial crop. By the time the seventeenth century rolled around, hemp was found in some form or another throughout Europe and even in some parts of Asia. Most of it came from Russia, which, at the time, produced well over ninety percent of England’s hemp. The hemp plant was successfully introduced to natives in South America by a conquistador (Pedro Cuadrado) serving with Cortes. It was very prevalent by 1550, by which time the euphoric properties of the plant were discovered by the Native Laborers, whose use of the drug fueled their masters’ fears that it would inspire rebellion in its user. Thusly, hemp production was limited so that the availability of the drug was less prevalent. Interestingly enough, Chile became a commercial success for hemp, and the laborers there did not show an interest in the drug due to the abundance of erythroxylon coca, which would, in 1859, be discovered to contain the stimulant, cocaine. The prevalence of hemp in the New World upon its discovery, was not without occasional mention. Indeed, Native American clay pipes were more than often found with the residue of burnt cannabis flowers in them. Moreover, hemp was said to clothe the many natives of the North Eastern areas of the Americas, which would eventually become New York. When the English came to the conclusion that the Americas were a prime ground for production of cash crops, hemp was one of three that came into demand, the other two being tobacco and flax. By order of King James I in 1611, the English colonies were to produce vast quantities of hemp and flax. The settlers of such colonies as Jamestown, were loath to plant hemp, as it brought in less money than tobacco, but nonetheless complied as they had already agreed to do so in accordance with a contract signed with the Virginia Company in 1607. Hemp continued to play a large role in early American industry, though not as big as flax or tobacco. The euphoric properties were rarely if ever discovered during this time due to the fact that hemp was usually harvested before the flowering tops could mature to produce the psychoactive compound, THC. It was inevitable, perhaps, that two of the founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both landowning farmers, would have come in contact with the Cannabis plant. They even rejoiced in its many uses: <DIR><DIR>"Jefferson, who preferred growing hemp to tobacco, produced his own cloth from hemp grown on his estate, Monticello: by 1815, his slaves were producing 2000 yards per annum, although some of this was made with wool and cotton."-Martin Booth </DIR></DIR>Hemp was used as cloth, fuel, rope, and food right up until the end of the American Civil War, by which time the steel industry and cotton industry had well replaced the need for hemp rope. Various Grain Cereals had replaced the hemp seed as a form of food. Cotton had replaced hemp as a form of clothing as it was more comfortable to wear and becoming more readily available to the general masses. Thusly, hemp disappeared from the mainstream industry until 1942, when the pro-industrial short commercial film, "Hemp for Victory" appeared in American theatres encouraging American agricultural farmers to produce hemp as a source of cheap cloth for the American armed forces fighting in World War II. This was, of course, a temporary repeal of the prohibition already in effect. Early Cannabis Prohibition Due to the vast population of Cannabis plants across the globe for industrial uses, it is a wonder that we don’t see them off the side of the road, popping up in our gardens, forests, and parks. Indeed, the term "weed" is a commonly used term for Cannabis due to the fact that it acts very similar to a weed in a garden as its population, when cultivated in vast numbers, is hard to control. As hemp disappeared from the marketplace, the new drug, "marihuana", a term used by Mexican Laborers to refer to cannabis, became more prevalent during the late 1800s. Due to the mass racism and xenophobic paranoia that plagued American society during the 19<SUP>th</SUP> century, any and all forms of drug use were considered barbaric and inferior in many ways to the European Alcohol and the American Tobacco. The Chinese immigrants were being condemned for their opium addictions with their arrival in 1849 (with a prohibition on opium being put into effect as early as 1875). Cocaine use became more prevalent amongst African slaves, which was said to incite them to violence and sexual promiscuity and was thusly feared by the white populace. Cocaine, however, was not the only intoxicant that came with the Africans over to America. They also brought cannabis. "Dagga" as the Africans termed it, was a sacred plant amongst various tribes throughout Southern and Western Africa. Its use was saved for various religious rites and medicinal uses, however, and it was rarely used recreationally, with the exception of the Hottentot Tribe (which, surprisingly enough, became so enamored with the plant that they eventually died out from war due to their drug-induced pacifism). Even the Natives of the American west, who grew cannabis for religious purposes, far preferred the mescaline containing cactus, peyote, as well as psilocybin mushrooms and salvia divinorum. While cannabis use was not looked highly upon by the white population of the nineteenth century, it was tolerated due to the overwhelming amount of opium and cocaine. These drugs were slowly spreading to the lower-class white laborers, and were considered by the turn of the century to be a vast and almost epidemic problem. Also, the Native American use of peyote and other drugs was prevalent in discussion. Thusly, cannabis was put out of the people’s minds as other problems were of more immediate concern. When Mexican Laborers flooded into the American workforce in the early twentieth century, however, cannabis use suddenly became the concern of various American labor unions, which saw the Mexicans, their willingness to work for cheap wages, and their use of marijuana as a threat to the American workforce. It was rumored that marijuana gave the Mexican workers an ungodly amount of strength and allowed them to work for many days without sleep. This, of course, was a lie. Due to the lack of knowledge concerning cannabis amongst the white population, however, cannabis was long considered a barbaric stimulant. In 1914, a by-law was passed in El Paso, Texas prohibiting the possession and sale of marijuana after a serious fight had broken out involving a Mexican laborer, who had been under the influence of cannabis at the time. El Paso, Texas was not viewed as exactly an upstanding white community, and thusly, the law was viewed as a way of controlling the "riff raff" that inhabited the area. In truth, it was a way of controlling the immigration of Mexican laborers. The negative consensus regarding Cannabis grew steadily from state to state during the early 1900s, usually in regards to the Africans or the Mexicans (with the exception of California, who blamed the Hindus, who used cannabis as a form of religious sacrament). Despite the negative views on cannabis, after World War I, use soon spread to the youthful, with no exception of the young white populace. Perhaps due to the up and coming music genre known as jazz. Jazz culture, while mainly comprised of young African Americans, was becoming popular amongst small group of young white males. Along with their music, came marijuana, which was claimed by some to aid in the writing and creation of music. Despite it’s growing population, cannabis was viewed as a vice that would have to be eradicated. This was reinforced, of course, by the Volstead Act of 1919, which, when passed by Congress, created the legal means by which the Eighteenth Amendment could be passed. I am referring, of course, to the prohibition of alcohol. With one of America’s longest standing vices/traditions being called into question, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to point an accusing finger at cannabis. This somebody was Harry J. Anslinger. Anslinger and the Drug War Harry J. Anslinger (1892-1975) first gains noted mention upon his appointment to the head of the foreign control section of the Prohibition Unit in 1926, promoted assistant commissioner in 1929. Upon the founding of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930, conceived by a Republican Congressman, Stephen G. Porter, Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the FBN due to a connection his wife had with her uncle, the Secretary of Defense (Andrew Mellon). Anslinger was briefed to "supervise, regulate and enforce the law concerning both licit and illicit habit-forming drugs within the USA." (Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History). Due to Anslinger’s rivalry with FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover over publicity attention, Anslinger created a campaign within the media to demonize marijuana in the public’s eye, referring to it as the "Killer Weed" in various newspaper articles. While much of the populace played into the fears spread by Anslinger regarding marijuana, it did not stir up the media enough to draw attention away from Hoover, due to the fact that Anslinger mainly arrested uninteresting individuals by comparison. Despite this, however, many states did take up the call and set about putting up restrictions on marijuana use, thirty-eight of which made cannabis illegal under the Uniform State Narcotics Act. This support was mainly fueled by racist feelings towards the Mexican migrant workers coming in during the depression and Anslinger’s demonization of the drug. With the prohibition of cannabis on the rise and the prohibition of alcohol still in effect, organized crime was at an all time high. Not only at a speakeasy could one obtain alcohol, but the Jazz players there made cannabis available as well. By the time that the Volstead Act was repealed in 1933, cannabis use had spread to some of the upper and middle white class who had visited the speakeasies. Brewers and distillers, coming back into the fray of American business, were concerned that the easily grown cannabis would put a dent in its profits due to this unprecedented popularity. Meanwhile, Anslinger was facing the threat of losing his position in the FBN because of President Roosevelt’s New Deal calling into question favoritism within the government. Anslinger was saved, however, by his support base within the media, and remained with his job position in tact. He continued to demonize marijuana.