Pubdate: Wed, 17 Oct 2012
Source: Arkansas Traveler, The (AR Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Arkansas Traveler
Author: Kelsey Cline
Note: Kelsey Cline is a staff columnist. She is a freshman European 
studies and international relations major.


Medical marijuana has been an incredibly controversial topic for 
years. Many government officials believe that because marijuana is 
perceived as addictive, it should stay illegal in the U.S.

On Nov. 6, Arkansans will be able to vote on Issue Five, otherwise 
known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question, to ultimately 
decide if Arkansas should legalize marijuana for medical use.

Whether or not you personally would benefit from medical marijuana, 
it is an important decision to make nonetheless.

If Arkansas legalizes marijuana, the national government would be one 
step closer to saving up to $13.7 billion per year by not having to 
enforce the current prohibition on the drug and adding a tax at the 
rates similar to alcohol and tobacco, according to the Huffington Post.

More than 300 economists have signed the petition to call these 
startling facts to attention. The economic benefits of medical 
marijuana legalization have pushed the government and the citizens 
alike to take another look at the problem.

Last year, more than 850,000 people in the U.S. were arrested for 
marijuana-related crimes. If marijuana was legalized in Arkansas, and 
eventually nationally, not only would money be made from taxing, but 
overcrowding of prisons and county jails would dramatically decrease, 
which would leave room for more serious offenders.

Private prison corporations are one of the top five interest groups 
lobbying against medical marijuana, according to 
These groups make millions of dollars each year by incarcerating 
people due to marijuana related arrests.

Moreover, many large paper companies would lose millions of dollars 
if medical marijuana were legalized because of the use of hemp 
instead of trees.

One acre of hemp can produce as much raw fiber as roughly 4.1 acres 
of trees, according to Hemp not only produces a much 
stronger paper, but is also much more economically efficient. Trees 
must grow for 20 to 50 years before they are ready to be harvested, 
while hemp can grow 10 to 20 feet tall within four months of being 
planted and is therefore, ready to harvest much sooner than trees.

Hemp makes better paper as well as better, longer-lasting clothing. 
Not only would it be an economic advantage to use hemp instead of 
paper, it would be an advantage to swap cotton for hemp as well.

Clothing that lasts many years reduces the need for replacing 
garments frequently. In 2010, Americans discarded 13.1 million tons 
of textiles while only recycling 15 percent of the 13.1 million, 
according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Because cotton 
isn't as durable as hemp-made clothing, it doesn't last as long nor 
is it as durable as hemp.

Industrial hemp fibers are the longest natural fibers and are proven 
to be four times more durable than cotton fibers. Hemp is also 
naturally UV resistant, so the fabric keeps its color without fading.

Just because hemp is more environmentally friendly and economically 
sound doesn't mean the U.S. will decide to vote pro-marijuana. The 
U.S. alone produces 12.4 million bales of cotton per year, which 
rounds us off at the world's third largest cotton producer.

The reasons behind anti-legalization of medical marijuana in Arkansas 
revolve around money and not the drug. Arkansas, along with other 
Southern states, produce much of the world's cotton, according to the 
EPA; therefore keeping marijuana illegal would keep these cotton 
factories running.

Medical marijuana will stay controversial for many years to come 
regardless of the outcome of this year's voting.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom