Written by Brad Boulch.

"A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded," Abraham Lincoln, December 18, 1840.
The drug war is a problem that cannot be solved through prohibitionist tactics. These tactics only make the dealing of drugs more profitable. The tactics currently employed by our government , greatly increase the profits (which in turn means the appeal) involved in dealing drugs. Any tactic used to police a problem cannot, in effect, make the problem more appealing and work. A creative new approach needs to be taken. The first step in this direction, would be the decriminalization of the Cannabis sativa (marijuana) plant. This would in turn be a positive medical, environmental, economical, and nutritional choice.

When the legalization issue was brought to court once again, leading professionals in many various fields of medicine testified on behalf of the validity of marijuana as a medicine, states Judge Young. After two months of hearings, Judge Young decides "...the marijuana plant as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." He further maintains, that by standing in the way of those that might benefit from it, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is acting "arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious."

The Cannabis plant was once acceptable enough in the United States to draft the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence on paper made from it. One acre of marijuana will produce as much pulp for the production of paper as four acres of trees. Those four acres of trees must grow twenty to fifty years to produce that amount of paper. Four months is the time required to plant and harvest a Cannabis plant. Processing marijuana is much better for the environment than wood, since marijuana requires virtually no bleach to whiten. Using bleach during this processing creates dioxin pollution, which, in turn causes acid rain. "Substituting Cannabis for trees would save forest and wildlife habitats, and would reduce the pollution of lakes, rivers, and streams."

Hemp, the name given the fiber from the marijuana plant, is naturally ten times more strong than cotton. This fiber, though strong, can be woven as smooth as silk or as coarse as burlap, with designs as intricate as lace. At the same time, Hemp is more water absorbent than cotton. If marijuana is rotated with other crops, it can be grown without pesticides or herbicides. Cotton fields, on the other hand, use fifty percent of the chemicals in U. S. agriculture today.

A plant's biomass (the dead organic material) can be converted to fuel in the shape of alcohol. Alcohol burns clean (does not introduce anything into the air, that is not already present), whereas fossil fuels contain sulfur, which when introduced to the air will eventually produce acid-rain. According to the definition, any plant could be used to make this alcohol, but marijuana is the only logical choice since the plant creates more biomass more quickly than any other plant, if this choice of fuel were employed nation wide, jobs would be created, our trade deficit would drop, we could end offshore drilling, strip mining, and dependence on foreign oil and nuclear power

Marijuana seeds can be used in the same ways that Soya (soybeans) can and they are more easily digested than soybeans. The seeds can be ground into flour, and since they contain thirty percent oil by volume they are a great source of cooking oil. The seeds oil is as good a quality as whale or jojoba oil. The seeds are as nutritious as Soya, and can be processed and flavored in all of the ways that a soybean can. Hemp seeds contain eight essential amino acids, and are a source of "globulin edestine" which are part of our immune system. The oils Omega-6 (Linoleic acid or LA) and Omega-3 (Alpha Li- nolenic acid or LNA) are in the seed as well, but are missing from most diets, so the human body has to use the substitute (saturated fats). The line drawn between saturated fats and the risk of clogged arteries is a very clear line. These marijuana plants also are very enduring of high levels of UV radiation, where the soy plant can be easily damaged by the same UV radiation.easily digested than soybeans.

The DEA is in charge of "scheduling" all drugs. The scheduling system is simply a progressive number rating given where the numbers range from one to five. Drugs that are scheduled with a rating of five are very easily accessible while others that are scheduled with a one rating can not even legally be prescribed by doctors. Marijuana is a schedule one drug, although not physically addictive. Cocaine (and it's derivatives) along with opium (and it's derivatives) are schedule two drugs, though addictive. Alcohol, and nicotine are scheduled as to where they can be accessible to all adults even though they are also addictive. No deaths have ever been recorded from an overdose of marijuana, while cocaine, opium, and alcohol all have been directly responsible for overdose deaths. Marijuana should be legally available only to consenting adults for recreational use if more addictive alcohol and nicotine are.

Dennis Vacco, former U.S. Attorney, disagrees with the legalization of any drug, including alcohol and nicotine. The legal availability of any intoxicating substance sends the wrong message to our children. The message that our children would receive would make them think that it is a moral choice that is supported by our country to choose the use of drugs. We cannot afford to send that kind of message to our future doctors, presidents, and teachers pleaded Vacco. We can not keep cigarettes and alcohol or drugs out of the reach of our children now. We would have an even harder time keeping it out of their hands if it were legal for their parents, their favorite musicians, and their sports heroes to purchase. There are many problems with prohibition, but to an extent it does work, argues Karol Crosbie coordinator of Children and Families of Iowa. Before the alcohol Prohibition of the 1930's alcohol was consumed at a rate of 2.6 gallons per person per year. During the prohibition, alcohol consumption dropped to a level of 0.173 gallons. The decade after the prohibition showed a doubling of the rate to a consumption rate of 1.5 gallons per person per year. During prohibition, alcohol was more expensive due to the black market effect that inflates prices. After prohibition the prices dropped drastically. This same effect will happen to marijuana. Crosbie reinforced that this means that marijuana will be more easily accessible to fifth-graders, fourth-graders, and all children.

But, instead of making the 4-500,000 marijuana arrests each year, police officers, special agents, judges, and others would be able to spend more time and more money to protect those children and others from harm.

The government's current tactics aimed at ending the use of drugs are a failure. Ending the prohibition of marijuana is a viable alternative, that would free a good deal of federal, state, and local money, manpower, and time. The end of the prohibition would also create many jobs, due to the various uses of the plant, which would in turn mean keeping more American money in America. It is already known to be less harmful than other legal substances, and will make a great deal of United States citizens lawful once again instead of the criminal status granted them by their own law-making elected representatives. It is time to try an alternative solution to this "war on drugs." Marijuana is the alternative.

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