Barack Obama’s website, Change.gov, opened a public forum in which 10,000 people asked questions about the future of America. The top question was not about the environment. It was not about the budget or the bailout. It was not even about the war in Iraq or terrorism. It was this:
“Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”
Apparently, a lot of Americans are fed up with the disastrous and ineffective Drug War. Have we learned nothing from the failure that was alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s? Whether or not you believe in recreational marijuana use, a bit of digging around will lead you to studies proving cannabis’ effectiveness as a safe and natural medicine, an excellent superfood in the form of hempseed and a viable fiber for clothing, paper, biofuel and more.
As an ecologically-aware, socially-conscious American, I firmly support changing our nation’s view of marijuana from that of a “menacing drug” to that of a highly useful plant. Growing and processing legal cannabis for medicine and hemp would stimulate our economy, put struggling farmers back to work, and requires virtually no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Such a bold move would provide thousands of jobs right here in the country – no outsourcing necessary.
Here’s some cannabis trivia: the suffix “sativa,” of marijuana’s scientific name Cannabis sativa, comes from the Latin root meaning “cultivated,” shared by so many other common plants such as oats (Avena sativa), garlic (Allium sativa) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Can’t be all that bad, now can it?
Although naysayers may come up with many arguments against legalizing cannabis, many of those arguments fall flat when further analyzed.
Myth: Won’t people just be able to go to hemp fields and gather plants for getting high? The fact is, hemp is so low in THC that you’d have to smoke a ridiculously, nauseatingly large amount of it to get high. No one would even bother. Trust me.
Myth: Farming hemp for fiber could turn into a coverup for growing potent marijuana. Anyone trying to hide their potent strains of marijuana amidst the fields of hemp would be wasting their time: the plants cross-pollinate and always result in weaker strains. Any experienced marijuana grower would keep their plants far, far away from a hemp field.
Myth: Legalizing marijuana would create a druggie free-for-all. Not so. The Netherlands legalized marijuana for recreational purposes in the 1970s and statistically they have less marijuana use and abuse than the United States. Marijuana is sold in coffee shops and the “thrill” of doing something illegal has been taken out of it. Also, cannabis smokers never have to do business with a “drug dealer,” which means they’re not exposed to other, potentially harder drugs.
Myth: There’s no market for hemp products in the United States. The biggest thing keeping hemp on the fringes is the price. Because hemp has to be imported into the U.S. from other countries, prices stay high. But if hemp were grown Stateside, prices would be competitive and hemp-based food, clothing and paper could enter the mainstream market and its superior quality would simply prove itself. And all those new hemp farms and hemp-related businesses would need managers and employees, thus creating a great many jobs literally overnight.
Myth: It’s unacceptable to use marijuana as a medicine because it makes the patient high. Many legal and acceptable medicines make patients high. Have you ever been prescribed Vicodin by your dentist? Or Codeine for severe pain? The nice thing about marijuana is that it is not addictive and much easier on the body and the liver. Besides, much of medical marijuana advocacy has focused on providing cannabis to AIDS and cancer patients, to aid them with severe nausea. Considering the severity of their disease and the harsh treatments most of these patients go through, inhaling some smoke and “feeling high” is a small price to pay for relief.
Myth: Legalizing marijuana would increase crime. The biggest crime committed by most marijuana smokers is simply buying and using the plant itself. Marijuana does not make people violent or cause them to lose control of their senses, leading them into unconscious criminal rampage. Nope. Take away the criminality of growing or possessing marijuana and a large number of “criminals” would simply be the normal, productive citizens they already are. According to a PBS interview with Eric Schlosser, 1 in 6 Americans in prison are there on marijuana-related charges (including simple possession), wasting taxpayer money and taking up prison space.
Myth: Marijuana prohibition keeps it out of the hands of our youth. Wrong again. Despite the War On Drugs, marijuana has remained easily available to high schoolers for decades, usually because it is sold to them by their own fellow students. If marijuana were legalized, it would be regulated in much the same way as alcohol, sold only in certain types of shops and require an age limit to purchase. This would certainly make it more difficult for young people to acquire.
Any other questions or concerns? Feel free to start a discussion! We’d love to hear what you have to say.