The Legalization of Marijuana and Other Friendly Substances
R U NORML? Sounds funny doesn't it? NORML stands for the National Organization
for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws. NORML is a membership organization devoted to
returning marijuana to its once legal state. NORML is one of the only groups devoted towards
drug legalization. The effects of legalization will be explored and defined. Prohibition of
alcohol caused crime and problems and our government does not notice the same effects of drug
prohibition. The industrial and economic impacts of legalization will also be taken into account.
The current laws against various drugs tend to incite crime rather than control it and also
prohibits the advancement of commercial and medical uses of hemp.
" I take very small doses of it [ cocaine] regularly against depression and indigestion ,
and with the most brilliant success... In short , it is only now that I feel I am a doctor , since I
have helped one patient and hope to help more." Sigmund Freud wrote this in a letter to his
girlfriend. In 1884 his lyrics for a "song of praise" to cocaine were published. For the first
twenty years of it's existence, Coca-Cola contained a small amount of cocaine. Under court
order it was removed in 1906 and Coca-Cola had to finally list its ingredients, replacing cocaine
with caffeine, and giving way for other companies to produce soda using the same ingredients.
British, German, Japanese, and American soldiers in World War II were given amphetamines to
battle fatigue. Over the years, thousands of truck drivers were using speed to stay on the road.
Collage students pull off all-nighters with the help of speed, and in the nineteen fifty's, speed
was the key ingredient in diet-pills that kept housewives looking the way they wanted to,
probably because they were always running around cleaning everything.
"In seventeen sixty two, Virginia awarded bounties for hemp culture and manufacture,
and imposed penalties to those who did not produce it."
Edward M. Brecher
On the Mayflower as well as Columbus' ships, hemp was used to make ropes and sails.
In nineteen thirty six Marijuana was made illegal. At the time there were twenty eight medical
products containing marijuana and marijuana was recognized as a medicine in good standing
with the American Medical Association. No other medicine compares to marijuana when it
comes to treating nausea for chemotherapy patients. It is also a marvelous treatment for
glaucoma, and it has been proven effective in the treatment of epilepsy, MS, back pain, asthma,
rheumatism, arthritis, migraines, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and promotes appetite.
Two large companies, the Hearst Newspapers and DuPont Chemicals are largely
responsible for anti-marijuana laws. Hearst printed false articles assailing marijuana, protecting
the image of a pot smoker as a raving lunatic, in one of the articles a pot smoke is described as
killing his entire family, and when the police showed up on the scene, he was covered in blood
and holding up a bloody axe. That is not what a pot smoker is like nor is he capable of such a
violent or heinous crime. If you can even get him off the couch in the first place, he'd still be to
lazy to even think of picking up the axe. Hearst these false facts because hemp was becoming
more well-known as a cheap, renewable source of paper. This angered Hearst because he had
recently purchased thousands of acres of forest on which he wished to print his newspapers on.
DuPont Chemicals are another foe of marijuana. In the nineteen thirties, DuPont took
German patents to perfect the new man made textile Nylon. Hearst Newspapers worked with
DuPont because DuPont chemicals were used in the paper production. In addition to paper
canvas and cloth can also be made out off hemp. Hemp which can be made into canvas and is
very inexpensive to grow, threatened DuPonts future business in paper manufacturing and textile production.
It is believed that 90% of the world's energy needs can be met by using methane and
methanol produced from hemp grown as bio-mass. This is bad news for oil companies and a
possible reason for the continuation of marijuana prohibition.
The biggest cause of murders and property crime in major urban areas is drug
prohibition. It creates a black market where warring suppliers overcharge users , who in turn
must steal to pay for their habits. Legalization would result in less spending on the criminal
justice system, cut the crime rate , lower the amounts of arrests and imprisonments and cut the
number of deaths from drug use. Our drug laws have failed and it is not fair to imprison those
who use a substance unless they directly harm others. Most of the damage done to society by
drugs is done by their illegality, not their actual use. Nothing is foolproof, especially our
current system , which spends $10 Billion dollars each year but is unable to keep 22.7% of kids
aged 12-17 from trying an illegal substance. 30% of the population over the age of 12 have
experimented with pot.
Now we must answer the question of how to go about legalization. Stephen Mugford, a
sociologist from Australia suggests making drugs like marijuana available commercially , while
harder drugs like cocaine and heroin would be available through a national licensing system.
Advertising for drugs would be banned , so as not to promote their use, just like
television is banned from running ads for cigarettes or hard liquor. One option is to allow sales
in private establishments, with restrictions such as sales to minor. A benefit it the end to one
million arrests each year, widespread crime, corruption a criminal underground, and terrorism.
Another form of legalization would be to sell drugs like liquor as in some states. Drugs that are
presently illegal would be would sold to adults in these stores. The government would simply
sell and tax drugs, not manufacture them. "It is important to realize that legalization does not
have to mean following the same stupid footsteps traced by our alcohol and tobacco policies."
If we kept even partial prohibition, we would still be jailing people for crimes that are no
direct harm to others. Decriminalization would maintain legal disapproval therefore hopefully
discouraging demand, law enforcement efforts could be relaxed and prisons kept less crowded.
Substances would be safer due to quality and quantity control, and the manufacturers of these
substances would be held accountable for pureness and information would be readily
available about health hazards of each substance. Some fear that legalization will cause more
addicts than we have now, but when opium was legal, we had no more addicts per capita than
we do now.
In conclusion, it has been found that the benefits of legalization far outweigh the
drawbacks. Illegal sales of drugs would vanish and kids wouldn't have to become drug dealers.
They don't sell alcohol or cigarettes, despite widespread under-age use. Taxes imposed on
manufacture, importation and sales of drugs would be extremely beneficial to the economy.
Prisons would be emptied out with the release of harmless individuals who were imprisoned for
drug sale, use or possession. Marijuana legalization alone would cause a boom in industry.
Hemp manufacture would be one of the biggest industries ever, with hemp used a thousand
different ways, from paper to canvas to medicine to clothing, even food, hemp can be made into
a tofu like substance, high in protein. Hemp is also a renewable resource of fuel. It is time for a
change. It is time to end our drug laws and take a second look at drugs and what they really are.
And we'll find that they aren't that bad, its the crime caused due to their illegality that give drugs
a bad name. This is a land of freedom, and we should be free to use drugs without worrying
about being shot by an irate dealer or arrested for simple possession. Legalization would make
for a more peaceful world.
~~~ Return to News Digest ~~~ Return To Web Station # 19 ~~~
Bandow, Doug. "Hard Drugs, Hard Choices".
The American Prospect, No. 8, Winter 1992 pp 82-87.
Bandow, Doug. "Hard Drugs, Hard Choices-pt II".
The American Prospect, No. 8, Winter 1992 pp 88-91
McWilliams, Peter. Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
New York: Prelude Press,1993.
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