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After a series of events the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned marijuana but it created consequences that were not expected. Prior to the congressional meeting, at which marijuana would be banned, lies and propaganda had been flying about amongst the people. Only years after alcohol prohibition ended the liquor industry, obviously seeing marijuana as a major threat, released the movie Reefer Madness, depicting a man going insane from smoking marijuana, which leads him to murder his entire family. He obviously had some other serious issues. Seeing hemp as a major threat to the plastics industry and timber industry, each aided in promoting the movie and campaigning for marijuana prohibition. Since alcohol prohibition had ended in 1933 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, now DEA, was losing money. This could be connected to their director, Harry Anslinger’s strong interest in marijuana prohibition. He spoke before congress with circumstantial evidence and accusations that I hopefully would not fly today. “Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes.” I would think today that this statement would be considered bad conduct but then again it isn’t quite legal to have a partner of the same sex.
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The hemp industry was actually at a point were it was ready to take off; it’s a shame it would take a fatal turn. Hemp is said to have the potential to make roughly 25,000 different products. Few knew that banning marijuana would lead to the downfall of the exploding hemp industry. Therefore, the Marijuana Tax Act was based on a lack of knowledge amongst the people. Too bad the knowledge they did possess was lies. If they only knew what we know now. Perhaps the Tax Act may never have been passed or even proposed in the first place.
Unfortunately, what we do know now has never been certain, for either side of the fence. Is marijuana really a gateway drug? There is no way to prove that someone who uses marijuana is going to move on to harsher drugs. There are only statistics that suggest the possibility is increased. I question the logic in that idea. I find it hard to believe that if someone is interested in using drugs, for whatever reason, they would first go straight to injecting themselves or snorting and uncertain substance. It’s only safe to assume that a person would start with a better understood, safer, less harsh, easier to acquire and administer drug to see if they enjoy its effects. This could possibly lead to them experimenting with other drugs in the future. That’s why the statistics say what they do. There is evidence that suggests smoking marijuana WILL cause a person to experiment with other illicit drugs.
Those campaigning for the legalization of marijuana suggest that there is a medicinal value in marijuana. Unfortunately, for them there is no proof of this. The shred of hope they have is that THC, the key element in marijuana, is also available in prescription drugs but tends to not be prescribed because there are many other remedies which provide its therapeutic agents more effectively. Although without the medicinal proof needed many have said that marijuana does aid in multiple areas. Alleviating depression and anxiety, use as a sleeping aid or even as a sexual enhancer. Also, some use it in the same manor that one would have a glass of wine at the end of a stressful workday. In fact I believe marijuana tends to be used in more mature ways than that of alcohol. As in more smoke for the above reasons or to relax than those that drink in the appreciation of great liquor.
It seems nothing these days comes without a side effect, whatever it may be. So it’s no surprise to say that marijuana is no exception. However, I would like to point out that marijuana in its pure form is less damaging than that which is available today; laced or even genetically altered. So… contaminated marijuana has 30 times more carcinogens than cigarettes and 50% more tar than tobacco. Flat out marijuana is worse for you than cigarettes but it’s a personal choice no one is forcing anybody to use either. The only side note is that the comparison of how much marijuana smokers intake compared to the amount cigarette smokers intake, marijuana tends to be substantially less. Short term and long term effects from those who smoke both are generally from the cigarettes. Only a few cases have been reported in which a solitary marijuana smoker was diagnosed with lung cancer.
OK, it’s illegal to possess, distribute purchase or grow marijuana right? Setting aside the fact that I am not 100% aware of all the laws surrounding marijuana I see a sleight flaw. It is not illegal to smoke marijuana, something that obviously a crucial element in this situation. Though the latter would not be possible without the former mentioned, I haven’t read anything in which a prohibitionist said that criminals growing or possessing was the threat. Maybe if it was illegal to smoke or be under the influence and law enforcement had a on the spot way to test for it, marijuana use and related crime would go down. Although violence, gang wars, etc. have been connected with distribution, purchasing and drug trafficking in general, that still is not the focal point of prohibitionists. In a way it seems they don’t have a problem with people already breaking the laws. Perhaps instead of cracking down on the person who has a baggie in his pocket who just wants to go home a peace out with his friends, law enforcement needs to keep that person from getting the marijuana all together. Instead of spending billions on catching recreational smokers of those interested in getting medicinal benefits we should spend billions on catching growers and dealers and put them in prison. Yah, possibly we are going about this in the wrong way. Legalization all around? Legalization of possession of small quantities? Illegalization all around? Measures need to be taken either way to adjust the way law enforcement is forced to handle the laws.
It doesn’t seem to me that either side has a real strong, for sure case but those for legalization have a much stronger than those opposed. Especially one thing I didn’t like is that in a lot of the anti-legalization advocates’ information they have a lot of opinion and make outrageous accusations. Such as: legalization would send the message that marijuana is good for young people to use and abuse. That last word itself makes the comment absurd, otherwise alcohol and cigarettes are legal but the vast majority knows that neither is “good for young people to use and abuse.” According to Bob Barr those in favor of decriminalization stat that legalization would end crime with one magical puff of smoke. I never read that anywhere. Of course, prohibitionists have their very strong gateway drug argument. When science can prove it I’ll believe it. Also, according to Bob Barr we may as well ignore science because if we legalize marijuana and give it a medicinal use we may as well shut down the FDA and let doctors prescribe “sugar water” and “powdered rhinoceros horn.” Oh, and kids would then demand to smoke marijuana in school and on the job and some companies would somehow be “forced to pay for workers to get stoned on the job site.” I’m sorry but I think this guy was “under the influence” when he wrote his paper. For the prohibitionists sake I hope they have some better advocates out there.
All in all. Was there a justifiable reason to criminalize marijuana? Not really. Is marijuana a gateway drug? I don’t believe so but it’s hard to pinpoint a yes or no answer. Does marijuana have a genuine medicinal value? It’s hard to say. Is marijuana bad for you? Yes, but it’s a simple question of if YOU find it worth it. Do the laws surrounding this activity need to be modified? Yes, whether legalized or not. There you have it. It’s a personal decision. Make it yourself not what someone tells you to.
Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
-DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young