What's that fresh smell, man?
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 prison overcrowding.
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 7,
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 I
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.
    In 1972, President Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission to research cannabis in the hopes
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.
    On August 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 assess the
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 millions
of ill people for simple possession of cannabis,
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
pro-marijuana legalization 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 amphetamines.
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.
    In summation, 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...