What comes to mind when you think of drugs? Perhaps you think of the nightly news talking about killings on the streets or maybe you think of those unforgettable meth ads on television and billboards. But what seems to be very popular when the word drug comes up is the controversial ongoing debate on whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Many advocates believe prohibiting marijuana reduces crime, trafficking and increases health. However, marijuana is one of the most misunderstood drugs on the market. Keeping it illegal just causes more problems. Fully legalizing marijuana, while making sure it is controlled with limitations much like alcohol and tobacco, would boost our economy, bring in more jobs, and medically help many people. Even with the inevitable negatives that come with the legalization, it is definitely safe to say that the positives outweigh those negatives.
The source for what we like to call “hemp” or “marijuana” is the cannabis plant. The term hemp is used more for the industrial uses of the plant, such as for the fiber and seeds, and the term marijuana is used more for the medicinal or therapeutic uses (Deitch). The cannabis plant grows like a weed, which is why it is often called weed, but it is actually an herb and can be grown in various different environments in many parts of the world (Fortenbery & Bennett). Hemp was an important valuable commodity in the American colonies all the way up to World War II. Since the outlaw of marijuana for all purposes in 1937, we have been socially, environmentally, and economically suffering. Many are unaware that our use of cannabis as fiber, fuel, and paper could solve a lot of these problems we face today.
The outlaw of marijuana reveals a lot of racism and hysteria. Henry J. Aslinger, founder and head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1932 through 1962, is the sole reason marijuana started to get a bad rep. He and the Bureau often made up stories about Negroes acting crazy and killing people because of marijuana. He showed no patience with research and data. In his view, marijuana prohibition involved patriotism, not research and when the New York Academy of Medicine issued a report in 1944 concluding that marijuana did not cause violent behavior or addiction, Aslinger called the researchers “dangerous and strange” because their conclusions went against his beliefs (Gerber 4). You would think by now that we would know all there is to know about marijuana and would have come up with ways to minimize the potential hazards and get rid of the prohibition, much like we have done with alcohol, so that people could receive the many benefits this little plant can offer. Unfortunately the outlaw has set us back.
However there has been research that has proven that medicinal marijuana could aid many people for the various different problems they suffer from. There are over 400 chemicals in marijuana, but the main active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol, or also known as THC which...