Pubdate: Mon, 13 Dec 2010
Source: College Voice, The (Mercer County CC, NJ Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The College Voice
Author: Val DaGrain
Referenced: American Drug War: The Last White Hope


Marijuana is not the villain that it is often portrayed to be. In
fact, the plant has a lot of beneficial uses which will never be
exploited because of our paranoia against "weed." Let's start with the
hemp fibers that are extracted from the cannabis plant.

According the article "Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North 
America" by Ernest Small and David Marcus, posted on the website of 
the horticulture department at Purdue University, hemp is one of the 
earliest domesticated plants known. It is a low-maintenance, 
resilient, soft, and durable fiber that is used to make every thing 
from biodegradable plastics to textiles, clothing, paper, natural 
oils and fuels. It is used in construction and even has many medical uses.

Small and Marcus say, "During the age of sailing ships, Cannabis was
considered to provide the very best of canvas," as well as rope, nets,
sail-cloth, and caulking. Hemp is organic, clean and green, and 100%
environmentally friendly. Hemp grows strong and grows quickly. Growing
hemp requires a lot less water and pesticides than growing cotton, and
also yields ten percent more than cotton when planted in the same
soil. But not here on American land (of the free?), because it comes
from the Cannabis family and its growth and distribution is outlawed
in the United States.

What about the medical benefits marijuana has to offer? This is a
question that many US governors and senators are faced with now. The
truth is, marijuana is extremely valuable as a drug in its diverse
effects on the human body. Consider that a person going through
chemotherapy can regain their appetite by using marijuana. The weed
helps them to keep their strength when they would otherwise lose very
large and unhealthy amounts of weight.

Cancer survivor Todd McCormick, as he was depicted in the 2007 
documentary by Kevin Booth titled "American Drug War: The Last White 
Hope" ( please see this documentary), depends on medical marijuana 
for his health.

Someone with cancer can also use marijuana in place of a painkiller
and get a couple hours of peace and pain relief. Marijuana is organic
and natural, as opposed to other drugs such as Percocet or Vicodin
that are made by the pharmaceutical companies.

These pharmaceuticals are often much more powerful and dangerous than
weed, with dozens of different chemicals in them and just as many side
effects (including addiction). Some of the side effects can be much
worse than what you are curing in the first place (read the fine print
on your medicine bottles or listen to an ad on television).

Now let's talk economics. Weed is a cash cow, worth its weight in gold
(literally). The state of California pumped over fourteen billion
dollars from medical marijuana into their recession stricken economy
last year (according to Time Magazine, Nov 16, 2010). Fourteen billion
they wouldn't have had before medicinal weed was legalized, and
fourteen billion that other financially crippled states and
communities could use. Not to mention the jobs it has created for
thousands, from growing and shipping to baking, cooking and cashiering.

What about the social components of decriminalizing marijuana? The
fact is that decriminalizing weed would stop making criminals out of
curious young Americans who happen to get caught smoking a dutch with
their friends, like 45% of the Mercer student body admitted to trying
at least once (according to a survey that was conducted randomly by
the staff of "The Voice").

Imagine if Barack Obama had gotten caught when he smoked, like he
admitted to doing in his best-selling book, "I am My Father's Son." He
wouldn't be president today, for a myriad of reasons. First, because
his student loans would probably have been denied once they saw he had
a criminal record (still true today), And second, even if he did make
it through school which I doubt (Harvard Law school is pretty
expensive), and went on to do all that he has done, John McCain's
campaign manager would just get a copy of that police report and the
presidency is theirs (Brown and high? America's not ready).

Once weed is legalized, it can be regulated, taxed (cha-ching), and
controlled. Its sale and distribution can be taken out of the pockets
of drug dealers and put into the hands of entrepreneurs, politicians
and businesspeople. It can be regulated to make sure it is not
available to twelve, thirteen, and fourteen year-olds like it is now.

I am aware that marijuana has some harmful medical effects. I also
concede that there may be some bad or harm that legalization may
cause. As with a lot of things (tobacco, alcohol, junk food) some
people get addicted and cannot use things in moderation. But my
opinion is that the good outweighs the bad by a landslide.

At the very least, let's not let our irrational fear of weed prevent
us from taking advantage of all of its benefits. So it's only a matter
of time before we get it right. Right?  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake