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Reefer Madness Essay

1205 words - 5 pages

Reefer Madness

Douglas Lamar Gray bought a pound of marijuana in a room at the Econo Lodge in Decatur, Alabama. He intended to keep a couple of ounces for himself and sell the rest to some of his friends. After paying $900 for the pot, Gray was arrested in a police sting operation. He was charged with trafficking cannabis, tried, fined $25,000, and sentenced to life without parole in the maximum security prison of Springville, Alabama. Unfortunately, Gray's punishment is not unusual in the United States. Fifteen states require life sentences for certain marijuana offenses. In Montana, a life sentence can be imposed for growing a single marijuana plant or even selling one joint. However, all these strict laws haven't stopped Americans from smoking weed. Approximately one third of all Americans have tried marijuana at least once. Like the prohibition of alcohol, the prohibition of marijuana doesn't work.
Marijuana is a mixture of stems, leaves, and flowering buds from the Cannabis hemp plant. Marijuana has many street names such as pot, weed, grass, herb, ganja, dope, bud, dank, chronic, reefer, buddha, cheebah, keef, and hash. Cannabis contains THC which when smoked or eaten has pleasure giving effects. The most popular way to use marijuana is roll into a cigarette or joint; however, marijuana can also be smoked through a pipe (bowl) or bong. Marijuana intoxication starts with lightheadedness and evolves into a peacefulness of mind. During marijuana intoxication, often called being high or stoned, there is a changed perception of time. It may seem like hours have gone by, but in fact, only minutes have elapsed. Many users also feel an increase in appetite (the munchies) and find humor in almost anything.
When compared to substances such as alcohol, marijuana use is relatively safe. In fact, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Pot has a negligible therapeutic ratio, so you don't have to smoke much to feel the effects. Furthermore, in clinical trials on animals, it has been shown that the ratio of effect to death is 1:40,000. If it takes one joint to get stoned, you would have to smoke 40,000 joints to overdose. The ratio for alcohol is between 1:10 and 1:20 depending on body weight. Unlike alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, marijuana is not physically addictive. Although marijuana smoke contains more carcinogens than cigarette smoke, even chronic pot smokers rarely smoke more than one joint a day whereas the average cigarette smoker smokes twenty cigarettes a day.
The incentive for farmers to grow marijuana is immense. While corn sells for a few dollars a bushel, pot sells for $70,000 a bushel. Drug cartels have sprung up in many poor third-world countries creating a vast black market. While the mobs of alcohol prohibition created crimes rings within cities, today's drug cartels have created international crime circles. The majority of the marijuana in the United States comes from smugglers...

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