The debate over whether or not marijuana should be legalized has been active throughout the United States for nearly a century with arguments from both sides, pro and con, posing quite valid points. Research has proven that cannabis, in various forms, has been used for hundreds of years for recreational, medicinal and industrial purposes. Contrary to common misconception, cannabis, or marijuana, is not smoked in all forms. Only the flowers, or buds, and leaves are harvested for recreational use. Some believe that the legalization of marijuana could save the economy and would lower crime rates in certain areas. Marijuana can also be prescribed medically in certain states across the U.S. and is a Schedule I controlled substance, but THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is a Schedule III controlled substance. Though it is not federally legal, there seems to be a reoccurring pattern throughout the United States of decriminalizing and even legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.
Proof of medicinal use of marijuana dates back over five thousand years ago in China (Mehling 9). Many think that cannabis originated in central Asia. The first hemp crop planted in America was said to have been planted by English colonists in 1611 near Jamestown, Virginia. Even in the sixteen hundreds hemp was mandated by England due to their reliance on the plant for items such as paper, linens, ropes and sails (Mehling 10).
Aside from the uses that were discovered by early English colonists, hemp is also a proven substitute for cotton in linens and clothing as it is naturally resistant to most pests which eliminate the need for toxic pesticides. Fifty percent of all of the world’s pesticides is dedicated to cotton production (Mehling 11). Not only is hemp a substitute for cotton but it can also be cultivated for wood and paper products every one hundred days instead of waiting years for trees to grow. Hemp is also an abundant source of cellulose, like trees, which is a main component in plastic. One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose as four acres of trees (Mehling 11). There are over 25,000 other economically feasible and environmentally friendly uses for marijuana including diesel fuel, insulation, paper, paint, beauty products and even food as its protein content is second only to soy (Mehling 11). With all of these environmentally friendly uses for hemp it seems almost irresponsible to not take advantage of its many advantages.
It should seem odd to most that a plant with so many resources is also classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Drugs are classified within five different categories that are based on the drugs acceptable medical use and its potential for abuse or dependency (www.justice.gov). The official DEA website defines Schedule 1 drugs as, “The most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence (www.justice.gov).” Schedule 2 drugs are defined as, “Drugs with a...