3 April 2013
Legalization of Marijuana in the United States Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in eighteen states and two of those states have decriminalized it for recreational use. In the state of Colorado any person twenty-one years of age is allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. While in Texas being caught with an ounce of marijuana would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by not more than one year in a county jail and/or a fine of no more than four-thousand dollars. After being caught with marijuana in Texas and receiving two years of probation as well as a hefty fine; I began to wonder how can certain states were going to deal with the growing use of marijuana in the USA. A new survey taken in 2013 revealed that fifty-two percent of Americans are for decriminalization, due to the expensive cost of fighting the illegalities of marijuana. Under federal law marijuana is scheduled a Class One narcotic and contains no medical uses. With states starting to legalize medical uses and even recreational uses, I have researched marijuana from the beginning to the current day to answer the question should marijuana be legalized in the United States? The earliest recorded use of marijuana for medical purposes was recorded in 2900 B.C. Emperor Fu His, who Chinese credit for bringing civilization to China, referenced that “cannabis was very popular medicine that both possessed yin and yang”(ProCon.org). Throughout recorded history the reference to cannabis being used for healing remedies, anesthetics, lowering fever, and even inducing sleep can be found in different countries and religions. In 1611, the Jamestown settlers brought the plant to North America to be used for fibers. They were growing hemp, which is the cannabis plant but planted to produce fibers. In 1619 Virginia awarded bounties for hemp culture and manufacture, and imposed penalties on those who did not produce it (PBS). Hemp was allowed to be traded as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. Hemp was widely used until after the Civil War when imports and domestic materials replaced it. In the late nineteenth century marijuana became popular in many medicinal products and was sold openly in pharmacies. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required labeling of any products containing cannabis in over-the-counter remedies (PBS). In the early 1900’s after the Mexican Revolution, many Mexican immigrants flooded the United States and introduced the recreational use of marijuana. There was an overall fear of these new Spanish speaking immigrants and this became closely associated with marijuana (InfoPlease). This led to marijuana being associated with terrible crimes and the Mexicans who used it. The idea that marijuana had been in North America for a couple hundred years and it wasn’t until immigrants brought it around that It became a problem is something I would of never thought. Shortly after during the Great Depression, with massive unemployment rates, an unstable economy, and increasing public and governmental concern about marijuana, multiple researches were done in which marijuana was linked with crime, violence, and socially unacceptable behaviors usually committed by underclass communities (infoplease). By 1931 twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana. The campaigns on the early 1930’s depicted marijuana as a powerful, addictive gateway drug that would make you want to try harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
To this day some authorities and parents consider it to be a gateway drug. There has not been a documented case of a death caused by marijuana; this is a big difference to the substantial death count of its counterparts. A film produced in 1936 titled “Reefer Madness” portrayed marijuana as evil and led to the ban of any narcotics being used in film. I feel this movie has had a substantial impact on the uses and effects of marijuana which soon led to the