Steve d'Hespeel November 4th 2002 Dr. Christopher Schroeder English Composition Rise Up and Be Heard Unlike most days in the San Fernando Valley, the bright morning sun did not have to compete with the thick smog it is generally grown accustomed too. With a brisk, easterly wind coming from the cool waters off the grandiose Pacific Ocean, this once tranquil place is now under siege by Federal task forces and protesting citizens alike. Unlike most places in America, the San Fernando Valley is a deeply rooted liberal area of the country. It, in essence, began the movement of legal use of medicinal marijuana back in the early 90's. Several years after proposition 215 passed in 1996, cannabis clubs soon established themselves to provide needy patients with cannabis and a place to cultivate it as well. However, under federal law the use and possession of marijuana under any circumstance is prohibited. This arises a deeply controversial issue; not only whether marijuana should be legal but rather on a much larger scale of States constitutional rights versus national supremacy. Marijuana should be legal since the prohibition of it violates our civil rights, it can reduce our prison population, utilize law enforcement in a more efficient manor, has medical benefits, and if taxed like other recreational substance can be used to fund our sub-par educational system. California took one giant step in the right direction on solving the governments loosing battle on drugs. Many other states are following suite, but going beyond just the medicinal use of marijuana and legalizing it entirely. The government is fighting back though, by sponsoring propaganda T.V. ads, which calm if you smoke weed that you're helping terrorists. The government is so reluctant to acknowledge creditable scientific studies that call for the legalization of marijuana, that they are executing Drug raids on legal cannabis clubs in the San Fernando Valley in hope to cease marijuana distribution. (Since cannabis is still illegal on the federal level the government is using federal tasks forces to execute drug raids, since local law enforcement refuse to do so.) The government, trying to capitalize on the 9/11 terrorist attacks by sponsoring the propaganda ads hoped to gain public support by performing these raids. How wrong they were, terminally ill patients getting arrested, terminating well respected doctors and professors licenses for prescribing cannabis. Marijuana cultivation and use of it as it pertains to proposition 215 is not an illegal activity under California law, thus executing these drug raids is violating a California's citizen's constitutional rights. As one famous theologian wrote: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are created among men and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. And when any government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.- T. Jefferson (Edwards, Linebarry, Wattenberg 697) With the local media covering these raids on a weekly bases, it appears to disrupt a person right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The public condescending view of the federal government is growing and local city councils and politicians have urged the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and Attorney General John Ashcroft to discontinue the raids. \tMany argue that legalizing marijuana will lead to higher fatality rates on the road. While this may be true, it is hard to accept it as fact. The effects of marijuana do impair your driving performance, but is drastically less when compared to alcohol. Researchers are finding out that marijuana may actually deter accidents: \tAlthough the cannabis affected reaction time in regular users, its effects appear to be substantially less dangerous than fatigue or drinking. Research by the Australian Drugs Foundation found that cannabis was the only drug tested that decreased the relative risk of having an accident. In the study, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory, grade A cannabis specially imported from America was given to 15 regular users. The doped-up drivers were then put through four weeks of tests on driving simulators to gauge reaction times and awareness. (Carr-Brown) If looked at a theoretical view of legalizing cannabis, the use of cannabis may go up while the use of alcohol goes down which creates safer roads as the study points out. Many people who oppose the legalization of marijuana believe that cannabis serves no medical benefits and site that it is used as a tactic to legalize marijuana. While there may be some truth to this, research tells otherwise. Cannabis may not only deter automobile accidents it does have many helpful medical benefits as well. Cannabis as been used as a medical treatment for over 8,000 years and through recent medical findings we know this to be true. Studies point out that marijuana use helps glaucoma patients with pain in their eye by lowering the intraocular pressure. Marijuana has also been proven to help people with appetite disorders and patients with AIDS or HIV to eat more. There are currently studies underway to determine the benefits of cannabis on terminally cancer patients as an anti-nauseant for cancer chemotherapy. More studies are being conducted with people who suffer from Parkinson's, epilepsy, arthritis, spinal cord pain and muscular scleroses as well. Preliminary results indicate that use of marijuana does improve the patient's health. Whether the benefits of using cannabis out-way the risk of harming your body is still under review. For some, the recreational use of marijuana allows them to reveal ones inner self and contrive thoughts and ideas not known to them before. The idea of using substances to promote knowledge and awareness is lost on most people, thanks particularly to the war on drugs. With the recent beneficial findings of cannabis, the American government is limiting its resources to these scientific studies. More research needs to be done in order to determine the validity of these past studies since most of the limited current U.S. studies are relying on research conducted in the 70's and early 80's. More recent studies are being done outside the U.S. were nations have different criteria and regulations but also have generally no or little restrictions by their respective government. With the recent increase in marijuana use, there have been many new healthy ways to consume marijuana. One of these new technological ways is to use a vaporizer, which decreases the harmful carcinogens to your body by 95% when compared to joints, pipes, water pipes, and blunts. The healthiest way to consume cannabis is to ingest it orally which posses no health risk to you lungs. While using these methods greatly reduce to relative health risk to your lungs, THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol-the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis) still posses a health risk to your heart (increasing heart rate, lack of blood circulation) as well as injuring brain receptors. (Cloud) The legalization of marijuana can not only bring relief for those who suffer from medical ailments but also help society as whole by utilizing law enforcement in a more efficient manor. It could also solve our prison crisis of over crowding. Last years (2000, 2001 yet to be released) Uniform Crime Report, conducted by the FBI had an all time high for marijuana violations. Police made over 734,498 arrests, when police could be preventing or solving, murders, aggravate assaults, grand theft, and many more crimes plaguing society. The government is spending an average of 10 billion dollars of tax payer's money a year on its loosing war on drugs. This money could fund our faltering prisons, increase law enforcements salary, fund our desperate school system or used as a tax break. Just in the state of California there were 1,903 marijuana prisoners in state prison as of June, 1999, - an increase of nearly 2000% in 20 years. At a cost to Californians of 100 million dollars. If marijuana is taxed like it is in California, the yearly amount the state receives is $250 - 500 million dollars. (â€œThe Story of California's Failed War on Pot") Decriminalization of cannabis can bring an overwhelming source of revenue to the government and also decrease the amount of money it spends on its drug war campaign. This will benefit society greatly since law enforcement would concentrate on crime in a more effective manor. Decriminalization would also drive out foreign smugglers who benefit from the prohibition of cannabis. Increasing media coverage of legalizing marijuana is becoming more common since other nations are using other methods that contradict America's policy to solve this problem. Noticing that this issue is becoming more prevalent in our daily life I encourage everyone to get involved since most people are uninformed of this issue and are easily influence by the governments misleading campaign on the war of drugs. However, would decriminalization really work? Yes it would. Other nations, such as the Netherlands where cannabis has been legal since the 1970's have shown through extensive long term studies that demonstrate drug abuse is lower percentage wise than compare to the U.S. Fatality rates on the roads have not increased but actually decreased. Legalizing marijuana would not only strengthen our economy but reaffirm our â€œnatural rights.â€ It would enhance our diverse society by lowering crime, increase funding towards needy and deprived social programs and institutions. Hopefully the San Fernando Valley will once again become a peaceful tranquil place that it once was.