What's that fresh
Recently in the United States,
there has been a resurgence of Pro-Marijuana action
taken up by the citizens of
the "freest" country in the modern world.
The problems concerning Cannabis
Sativa legalization have roots in
political, economical, and
sociological arenas. As the history of cannabis is quite extensive,
I cannot possibly give the
complete and most concise history of its presence in the human community.
Instead, I will focus
mainly on cannabis as a medicine.
The issue is freedom and in
no way do I wish to preach to anyone that they use marijuana,
but more importantly, to dissolve
many of the federally induced hysteria regarding
the imaginary dangers posed
by this harmless and often, misunderstood drug.
In the United
States, we are facing a dilemma concerning
mere possession arrests and
In fact, if one is caught with
a personal amount of marijuana and
does not plan to distribute
to any other party, the person can be fined up to $1000
and face up to one year in
prison. This problem affects all Americans,
as our tax dollars pay an estimated
$30,000 per year to incarcerate
drug offenders for possession.
Personal use without the attempt to distribute to
outside parties should be legal,
especially if the party in question is using
marijuana for medicinal purposes.
It has been recorded in archaeological findings
that marijuana has been used
for a variety of human ailments and
for recreational use since
before 2727 B.C. The first recorded use of
cannabis as medicine appeared
in Chinese pharmacopoeia. From a purely scientific
perspective, the literature
on marijuana is clearer than many other botanical substances
consumed by man. Research
done in the United States by the government in the early half of
this century has been largely
biased and not observed in a controlled scientific environment. In
1937, the Marijuana Tax Act,
written by the then Commissioner of Narcotics, Harry J.
Anslinger, was based on racism
toward Hispanics, African-Americans, Turks, Filipinos, Greeks,
and Spaniards. Even in
official documentation of the Marijuana Tax Act, bigotry is prevalent
and often quoted as a means
to make the harmless herb illicit under state, federal, and
international law. For
example, Anslinger "interviewed" anti-marijuana elitists and in Section
a journalist from Alamosa,
Colorado described marijuana users as, "sex-mad degenerates, who
brutally attack young girls
by rape." He goes on later in the official document to say, " I wish
could show you what a small
marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-
speaking residents. That
is why our marijuana problem is so great; the largest percentage of our
population is composed of Spanish-speaking
persons, most of whom are low mentally." The
justification for marijuana
criminalization appears to be everything but official and more so as a
means to attain personal
wealth by such people in synthetic medicine, toxic chemical paper
production, and the willingly
uninformed. It should be noted that this document as presented in
Congress during the late 1930's
not only contains paragraphs of racial prejudices, but was also
written by a man who has been
linked with Anti-Communism zealot Joseph McCarthy.
It has been shown in several
documents that Anslinger had also supplied Mr. McCarthy with
heroin and morphine through
seized quantities by the Narcotics Department
of the United States of America.
President Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission to research cannabis in
of reaffirming the dangers
affiliated with the drug. The philosophy applied by the commission
was that "no drug is ever completely safe." They felt that "marihuana
related problems is most definitely over-generalized and over-dramatized."
They also concluded that "from what is now known about marihuana and its
use does not contribute a major threat to public health." In an ironic
statement, the Shafer Commission also stated that because marijuana offenses
(mainly possession of small quantities) were steadily increasing, that
"marijuana policy itself has become more damaging to American society than
marijuana." Still,President Nixon ignored his own Commission's recommendations
to legalize marijuana.
8, 1997, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its long-awaited
medicinal marijuana report, written by a panel of experts who participated
in the NIH's
"Workshop on the Medical
Utility of Marijuana." The stated purpose of the workshop was to
existing evidence of marijuana's
medical uses and make recommendations for future research.
It was found in the workshop
that, " [evidence] does clearly show that marijuana increases
the appetite and caloric intake
and can help those afflicted with various ailments such as
cancer patients receiving radiation
treatment,glaucoma, and spasticity of people with multiple sclerosis ."
Often, doctors who are
afraid of prosecution prescribe marijuana instead recommend Marinol,
a pill form which is a synthetic
equivalent of the premiere ingredient of cannabis, delta-9-THC.
In relatively few cases has
this synthetic form worked, however it is usually prescribed
to cancer patients undergoing
radiation therapy who become nauseated, lose
appetite, and vomit.
To these persons, a pill which must be orally ingested does not make
sense because it simply will
not stay in the system long enough to be of use to the patient.
The cost of Marinol is
also astounding. A patient prescribed approximately twenty milligrams
of Marinol would spend $600
a month or more, depending if the dosage were higher.
Unfortunately, many doctors
have a dilemma resulting from the government's inability to recognize
this integral part of understanding
how cannabis can be of benefit to the seriously ill.
Another cannabinoid constituent
(marijuana contains over 420 chemical elements)--cannabidiol
is also quite useful as an
anti-convulsant. It seems odd that the very government punishing
of ill people for simple possession
allows eight people to smoke
marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some of these eight people have
AIDS wasting syndrome, glaucoma,
and cancer. How then is it rationalized that millions
of Americans who have the very
same illnesses are being treated as criminals for possession?
There have been many organizations
which have been started within the last 10 years to combat
legislative attempts to stifle
marijuana research and already-established findings. Of those created,
here are just a few: Marijuana
Policy Project (MPP), founded by former Pennsylvania State
University student body president,
Robert Kampia. The MPP is the only official
lobbying group in Washington D.C. and has been an
integral part in introducing
legalization bills in more than 13 states, all of which are pending.
In 1989, the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
attempted to persuade the U.S.
government to reclassify cannabis as a schedule II drug
because currently, it is classified
as a schedule I drug, a category for narcotics deemed unsafe,
highly subject to abuse, and
possessing zero medicinal value. The request was consequently denied
by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1989. A schedule
II classification would have allowed physicians
to provide cannabis, just as
they are currently permitted by law to prescribe cocaine, morphine, and
The conflict is a confusing
one indeed. Even as government appointed groups research medicinal
pros and cons, the results
are often ignored and seemingly only conducted to satisfy the
pressure urged by the American
public for a time and then treated as insufficient and/or incomplete.
While our country spends billions
of dollars incarcerating users of this drug,
we are also spending billions
of dollars researching again and again information with which
we are already familiar.
The resolutions posed by hundreds of groups are ignored by the audacious
elitist government figures
who were elected to represent the very people they are now ignoring.
So when asked for a resolution
like legalizing marijuana for medical purposes as opposed to
legalizing cannabis for all
to decide for themselves to use, the problem lies
within the system of legislation's
inability to convey compassion for the seriously and very often,
terminally illpatients who
do not have time for the petty arguments of political interest.
I propose that marijuana be legalized for medicinal use first, then our
country can consider the recreational aspect of legalization. In a country
that claims to be the "freest" of all nations, it seems appropriate
to at least have
compassion for those who have a genuine interest in preserving not only
the American ideal
, but to care for all its citizens
equally and compassionately. This philosophy has already
been put to practice by the
California voter initiative to approve Proposition 215,
which allows doctors to prescribe
marijuana for ailment they believe can be alleviated with cannabis.
Not only has this practice
been helpful to medicinal recipients, but it has also helped curb
California crime rates, as
patients no longer need to frequent illicit and occasionally dangerous
circles to obtain their medicine.
Also, arrests for possession have been virtually nonexistent
since the plan was implemented
to allow use for medical conditions. However, doctors can still
be federally prosecuted, even
though voters of
the state approved Proposition
215. This Washington-knows-best attitude displayed by the federal
government to block proven
success approved by the people who voted for this action is unacceptable.
the legalization process has very old roots that began as racist and
selfish platforms without the
interests of the truly needy and sick being considered. Most often
in our country, children are
not presented with any positive ideal of cannabis' redeeming effects,
but are instead force fed misinformed
and biased heresy. Our country spends billions of dollars
incarcerating people who commit
no crime except owning a vegetable that can possibly help them
in one way or more medicinally.
Without the much needed cooperation from our federal government,
we cannot possibly move into
the millenium a more knowledgeable and compassionate people
if the more recent well documented
and extensive research is not acknowledged by the very people
responsible for our best interests.
As American citizens, we should take into account that law is
not always the final word on
any given premise.
Organizations who were previously
afraid of reprimand have come forward in support of medicinal
marijuana. The New England
Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association
are only two of the prestigious
organizations who cannot pacify the restrictive government's stranglehold
of marijuana research and propaganda.
Action against marijuana laws has also taken
place at Pennsylvania State
University with the weekly Smoke- Outs headed by Professor Emeritus
Julian Heicklen who is also
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) faculty advisor
and the Libertarian Party Student
Chapter Advisor. He uses civil disobedience by smoking
joints and educating passers-by
of the failure of the drug war and its toll on American society.
I thank you kindly for your
patience and interest in this important issue...