marijuana essay

Discussion in 'General' started by stewiegriffen91, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. wasn't sure exactly where to post this, but i wanted to share my persuasive essay on marijuana legalization for my high school lit class. im gonna have to mail this to my state senator, saxby chambliss. any thoughts, criticisms, or suggestions are welcome

    Why is it that history's most profitable and beneficial cash crop has been demonized in America since 1937? A plethora of social, economic, and political issues lies behind the mountain of propaganda that has been spewed about cannabis over the last seventy years. Unfortunately, the personal interests of private industries have hindered the cultivation of an herb that can generate billions of dollars, as well as ease and enhance the lives of those who consume it. The legalization of marijuana would significantly benefit not only the economy of the United States, but also its citizens.
    Hemp can be, and was for thousands of years, incredibly beneficial to the economies of societies. Industrial hemp has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than one percent, while marijuana can have a THC content of well over twenty percent. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to get high from hemp. The cannabis plant is by far the most durable of all other hemp plants, and it is also the only one that produces pulp, seed, and marijuana. Hemp itself is not illegal, but it is impossible to grow it without possessing marijuana.
    The pulp of the cannabis plant is an incredibly efficient source of fuel, and would make a significant impact on our dependence on foreign oil. It can be processed into charcoal, methane, methanol, and gasoline through a process called destructive distillation. Hemp can even be used to produce ethanol, since it is an excellent source of high-quality cellulosic biomass. Biomass fuels such as those that can be extracted from cannabis are far cleaner than fossil fuels and cause much less air pollution. The burning of biomass fuels also does not increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a crucially important characteristic considering the climate change crisis that the Earth now faces. The pulp of the cannabis plant can also be used to create incredibly durable and long-lasting paper without the use of chemicals. Why not just use trees? Paper made from wood pulp requires tons of chemicals, many of which have very harmful effects on the environment. The population of trees is also rapidly decreasing, whereas hemp plants could be easily replenished because of how effortlessly it is grown. Hemp grows well in a variety of climates and soil types, and does not require any pesticides or herbicides. According to the 1916 calculations of the United States Department of Agriculture, one acre of hemp is more efficient than four acres of trees. The efficiency of hemp has been known throughout history. In fact, the first bibles, charts, maps, and the first drafts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper.
    The fiber of the hemp plant can be woven into literally almost any kind of cloth. This cloth is also incredibly durable. Levi Strauss knew this, which is precisely the reason for the first blue jeans being made out of hemp. For thousands of years, a striking 90% of all ropes and ship's sails were made from hemp. Hemp cloth is much stronger and longer-lasting than cotton, as well as much more environmentally friendly. The hemp plant is incredibly easy to grow and doesn't deplete the soil that it grows in. On the other hand, cotton is a soil-damaging crop and accounts for approximately one half of the total pesticides used in the United States.
    Hemp seed could also be extremely beneficial to the economy of the United States. Hemp seed oil is incredibly nutritious and is an excellent source of high-quality protein that is easy to digest because of its natural prevalence in the human body. In fact, hemp seed oil is the number one source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids which help control the immune system, cholesterol, and arterial blockage. It is for these reasons that birds are known to live much longer if they eat hemp seed. In fact, hemp seed used to be the number one selling bird feed, with four million pounds sold in the U.S. in 1937. Hemp seed oil can also be used as a base for paints and varnishes. In the United States in 1935, 116 million pounds of hemp seeds were used for paint products.
    The legalization of marijuana would help the economy of the United States for other reasons as well. One is the fact that it could be taxed, which would generate huge revenue for the government. Another is the fact that asinine amounts of money would no longer be spent to punish civilians who possess the natural herb, such as the 775,137 Americans arrested for possession and the 97,583 arrested for trafficking in 2007 alone. According to researcher and Ph.D. John Gettman, the war on marijuana costs taxpayers approximately $42 billion annually. $10.7 billion are spent in direct law enforcement costs, and $31.1 billion are gone as a result of lost tax revenue. That $42 billion could be used to finance much more important institutions, such as health care and education.
    Because of the competition that cannabis poses to the big players in industries such as oil, paper, and tobacco, huge efforts have been made to blemish the reputation of cannabis. Private companies with their own agendas fund much of the propaganda that is spread about marijuana, most of which is full of lies and false data. The claims that marijuana kills brain cells, causes cancer, is addictive, and is lethal are simply untrue and based off faulty or no data.
    The claim that marijuana kills brain cells has been made for decades but has never been backed by any sort of scientific data. In fact, multiple studies have found conclusive evidence that proves just the opposite. One of these studies was led by top researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and concluded that marijuana actually promotes hippocampal neurogenesis, otherwise known as brain cell development. An analysis was recently done of fifteen studies in which 700 long-term marijuana users were compared with 484 non-users on various aspects of brain function, including reaction time, reasoning ability, memory, language and motor skills, and the ability to learn new information. Researchers found only what they call a “very small” impairment in memory and learning among heavy, long-term users.
    Marijuana is an enigma to scientists because of the fact that it contains many known carcinogens, yet there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that depicts a link between marijuana use and cancer. Many studies have been done on the matter, including one at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, which failed to find a link despite testing heavy, long-term marijuana users. As a matter of fact, far more studies have found marijuana to be a cancer preventative and treatment. One of these studies was done by researchers in Madrid in 2000 who destroyed seemingly incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. Arguments are made that any smoke is harmful to the lungs, which are true. It is often forgotten, though, that there are far healthier ways to consume marijuana. Some of these ways include vaporization and ingestion.
    Another common misconception about cannabis is that it is addictive. This, too, is simply untrue. The answer to why it is not physically addictive is simple: its active ingredients to not become part of the body's chemistry. While it can in many instances be habit-forming, psychological dependency and physical addiction are two very different things. Smoking marijuana is as addictive as shopping, playing videogames, or drinking water.
    One of the most common lies that occur in propaganda is the fact that marijuana is lethal. Not one person has ever died from marijuana overdose, as it is impossible. This is in contrast to the 435,000 people who die annually from tobacco use, and the 7,600 who die every year from Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as aspirin. Scientists estimate that a human would have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within fifteen minutes to induce death. Such a staggering rate of consumption is physically impossible. Drug Enforcement Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, described marijuana as “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
    Dozens of other false claims exist about marijuana. The “gateway drug” theory is one of ones that hold the least water. Marijuana is much more common and much less harmful than the majority of harder drugs, so it is easy to see why most people who use hard drugs tried marijuana first. Nearly all heroin users drank milk before they tried heroin, but that doesn't mean that milk led to their use of hard drugs.
    Another common belief about marijuana is that its legalization would lead to increased use of hard drugs, increased use of marijuana amongst youth, and an increase in marijuana-related car accidents. This, too, is simply untrue. If cannabis was legalized, strict regulations, similar to those we currently have for alcohol, would be put in place to ensure that people do not drive under the influence of marijuana. In addition, citizens over the age of eighteen in the Netherlands have been permitted to buy and use marijuana for over 20 years, yet the use of hard drugs in the country has declined and the rate of cannabis use among young adolescents is less than in the United States. Substances that are legalized and regulated by the government, such as alcohol, are much harder for youth to apprehend. As a teenager myself, I can attest to this statement. Criminalization leads to a black market that is incredibly dangerous, especially for children.
    People are too busy spreading lies about the wonderful herb that they fail to inform the public of the numerous medical benefits that marijuana can have. Cannabis can be, and is in certain states, used to treat many disorders that are currently treated by dangerous, artificial drugs that can have detrimental side effects. It is known to have profound effects on cancer patients who experience chronic pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Marijuana has also been shown to combat the symptoms of glaucoma, arthritis, Tourette's Syndrome, epilepsy, and Crohn's disease. Many patients who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, and dystonia have reported that marijuana does a far better job of easing their symptoms than every medicine that has been prescribed to them. Another disorder that marijuana is known to help treat is insomnia, which is currently treated by a plethora of dangerous sleep aids. Surprisingly, studies have also shown that marijuana may be beneficial to the prevention and treatment of ailments such as Alzheimer's and asthma.
    With the trillions of dollars that could be saved and the millions of lives that could be enhanced as a result of its legality, it is difficult to believe that marijuana prohibition has lasted from 1937 until now. Though there is a plethora of evidence to support legalization, many lawmakers and much of the public refuse to recognize the significance of cannabis and instead buy into the lies spread by private companies who fear competition. The benefits of marijuana are absolutely undeniable: it is a cash crop that will save the United States trillions of dollars, a medicine that can save and ease the lives of many who suffer from sickness, and an herb that can have significant social benefits and provide users with a perspective outside of that which they usually have. Far more evidence exists in support of legalization than against it, and legislation should be passed to make the miracle herb available to responsible adults in the United States.

Share This Page