Legalization of Weed Essay

Submitted By onexmanxarmy
Words: 1326
Pages: 6

Cannabis sativa is one of nature’s most robust creations, it has a propensity to survive. From Abel’s book, Marijuana, The First Twelve Thousand Years, he describes how marijuana “sprouts from the earth not meekly, not cautiously in suspense of where it is and what it may find, but defiantly, arrogantly, confident that whatever conditions it has the stamina to survive” (ix). But marijuana is not totally selfish in nature, it does give back and allows humans to reap the benefits of its qualities. There exist nonpsychoactive varieties of the plant, which have been used for thousands of years. Use of hemp is dated back to around 10,000 years ago on the island of Taiwan. They found the characteristics of hemp advantageous to life. It could be used for a variety of applications including tempering pottery, making clothes, and making paper (4). From the historical record, there is evidence of the utilization of hemp plants in ancient China, Japan, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome (3-35). Even in these ancient times, the medicinal properties of marijuana were recognized. In the self-proclaimed “land of mulberry and hemp,” as the Chinese called it, cannabis was an ingredient for herbal medicines used to treat a wide array of afflictions (10-11). The psychoactive properties of the plant were also eventually discovered. In India these properties are discussed in Hindu doctrine. “Written some time between 2000 and 1400 B.C., the Atharvaveda (12:6.15) calls bhang [marijuana] one of the ‘five kingdoms of herbs … which release us from anxiety” (19). These early examples of the use of the marijuana plant demonstrate how it is has been a staple of life long before it was made illegal by governments throughout the world. Cannabis and hemp have proven time and time again to be a vital commodity for governments over the world. When the Americas were being taken over by the European powers, the prospect of riches from undiscovered gold and silver never materialized. But there were other riches to be found. These riches were found in the production of hemp. Hemp provided the earliest settlers of the New World self sustenance. These settlers were even advised and ordered to grow hemp by the English Crown (77). The British recognized the potential revenue that could be generated through this product, thus they promoted the growth of it to every colonist. When the fight for independence finally came to the American Colonies, the demand for hemp increased substantially. Before the Revolution “hemp sold for about twenty-seven to thirty-five shillings per hundredweight. Between 1780 and 1782, the price soared to three hundred shillings” (87-88). Congress encouraged hemp production to reduce American reliability on English manufactured clothes (91). Hemp can be directly attributable to the success of the American Revolution, so how did it disappear from the landscape, and how was it eventually demonized to result in its illegal status? The first question can be answered by looking at the circumstances and results of the American Civil War. The major production centers for hemp were in the south, so when the Civil War broke out “trade broke off with the north [and] suppliers in the south lost a major market for bagging and cordage.” The war resulted in a fatal blow to the hemp market. Competition arose “in the form of iron wire cables and bands, and cheaper jute bagging, [so] many farmers simply gave up on hemp and turned instead to other agricultural staples such as wheat.” To give a better understanding of the second question, one must take into account that hemp plants in America did not obtain high amounts of the psychoactive, sticky resin that induce intoxication. When these effects were discovered, American policymakers eventually began giving it labels such as a “depraver of youth” and a “provoker of crime” (96). At the turn of the 20th century, “about one million Americans were addicted to drugs such as opium and