Richard Davis Neff
October 16, 2012
More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke. In that same year a staggering 440,000 people die from tobacco use in the U.S. Nearly 1 of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined. A frequently asked question after hearing these statistics might be how many people die from marijuana use each year in the U.S.? Warning: these numbers will scare you. The answer is zero. Zero people have EVER died in the WORLD from marijuana use. Not one case has come up where someone has overdosed or even chocked on marijuana. Marijuana could possibly be the safest drug on the planet, and guess what! You guessed it, it’s illegal! Many children grow up with the mind-set that marijuana is bad, or that only bad people use it and that is causes severe damage to your body. Well today we are going to go behind the scenes and discover the origin of cannabis in America, what kind of people use medicinal marijuana, and the effects it has on its users.
In 1619 Jamestown colony law declared that all settlers were permitted to grow hemp. George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon as one of three primary crops. Hemp fiber was widely used throughout history. Items ranging from rope, to fabrics, to industrial materials were made from hemp fiber. But only in in 1850’s is where hemp began to be used for medicinal purposes. Marijuana became available in American pharmacies after William O'Shaughnessy introduced its use in western medicine in 1839. Of course at the same time people were using cannabis at their own discretion, no pharmacy had really had many regulations. The medicines that required labeling but not issued by a pharmacy were said to be labeled “poison,” in all capital red letters. Around the same time, efforts to regulate the sale of pharmaceuticals began, and laws were introduced on a state-to-state basis that made consequences for mislabeling drugs, ruining them with undisclosed narcotics, and improper sale of those considered "poisons". The first draft of the bill, “An act to regulate the sale of poisons” prohibited the sale of cannabis and other drugs without the written prescription of a doctor. At this time New York began to reform legislation under the Towns-Boylan Act, which was created to restrict the sale of all habit-forming drugs in order to prevent habituation. This also restricted sale to people with habits and prohibited doctors with a drug related habit to sale the drugs. Soon after the Towns-Boylan Act many amendments were set in place including one that stated marijuana as a habit forming drug. From this time on cannabis was widely known as an addictive drug and was illegal in most states of having an ounce if more being a felony, but any less being a misdemeanor. In 1996 the people of California made a stride to legalize marijuana by proposing Proposition 215. The proposition was passed and marijuana was legal only for medical use in the state. Most states had made propositions but some were passed and some were not depending on congress discretion. Although in Oakland, the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative was created to provide seriously ill patients with a safe and reliable source of medial cannabis, information and patient support, all in accordance with Proposition 215. On May 14, 2001, the United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop that federal anti-drug laws do not permit an exception for medical cannabis and rejected the common-law medical necessity defense to crimes enacted under the Controlled Substances Act because Congress concluded cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use" when the act was passed in 1970. To this day it is