Is The Illegalization of Marijuana Valid?


The debate over the legalization of Cannabis sativa, more commonly known
as marijuana, has been one of the most heated controversies ever to occur in the
United States. Its use as a medicine has existed for thousands of years in many
countries world wide and is documented as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Chinese
writings. When someone says ganja, cannabis, bung, dope, grass, rasta, or weed,
they are talking about the same subject: marijuana. Marijuana should be
legalized because the government could earn money from taxes on its sale, its
value to the medical world outweighs its abuse potential, and because of its
importance to the paper and clothing industries. This action should be taken
despite efforts made by groups which say marijuana is a harmful drug which will
increase crime rates and lead users to other more dangerous substances.
The actual story behind the legislature passed against marijuana is
quite surprising. According to Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No
Clothes, the acts bringing about the demise of hemp were part of a large
conspiracy involving DuPont, Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal
Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and many other influential industrial leaders such as
William Randolph Hearst and Andrew Mellon. Herer notes that the Marijuana Tax
Act, which passed in 1937, coincidentally occurred just as the decoricator
machine was invented. With this invention, hemp would have been able to take
over competing industries almost instantaneously. According to Popular Mechanics,
"10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of
average [forest] pulp land." William Hearst owned enormous timber acreage so his
interest in preventing the growth of hemp can be easily explained. Competition
from hemp would have easily driven the Hearst paper-manufacturing company out of
business and significantly lowered the value of his land. Herer even suggests
popularizing the term "marijuana" was a strategy Hearst used in order to create
fear in the American public. Herer says "The first step in creating hysteria
was to introduce the element of fear of the unknown by using a word that no one
had ever heard of before... \'marijuana\'".
DuPont\'s involvement in the anti-hemp campaign can also be explained
with great ease. At this time, DuPont was patenting a new sulfuric acid process
for producing wood-pulp paper. According to the company\'s own records, wood-pulp
products ultimately accounted for more than 80% of all DuPont\'s railroad car
loadings for the 50 years the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. It should also be
said that two years before the prohibitive hemp tax in 1937, DuPont developed
nylon which was a substitute for hemp rope. The year after the tax was passed
DuPont came out with rayon, which would have been unable to compete with the
strength of hemp fiber or its economical process of manufacturing. "DuPont\'s
point man was none other than Harry Anslinger...who was appointed to the FBN by
Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who was also chairman of the Mellon Bank,
DuPont\'s chief financial backer. Anslinger\'s relationship to Mellon wasn\'t just
political, he was also married to Mellon\'s niece" (Hartsell).
The reasoning behind DuPont, Anslinger, and Hearst was not for any moral
or health related issues. They fought to prevent the growth of this new
industry so they wouldn\'t lose money. In fact, the American Medical Association
tried to argue for the medical benefits of hemp. Marijuana is actually less
dangerous than alcohol, cigarettes, and even most over-the-counter medicines or
prescriptions. According to Francis J. Young, the DEA\'s administrative judge,
"nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal affects, but marijuana is
not such a substance...Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest
therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational
analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical
care" (DEA Docket No. 86-22, 57). It doesn\'t make sense then, for marijuana to
be illegal in the United States when alcohol poisoning is a major cause of
death in this country and approximately 400,000 premature deaths are attributed
to cigarettes annually. Dr. Roger Pertwee, Secretary of the International
Cannabis Research Society states that as a recreational drug, "Marijuana
compares favorably to nicotine, alcohol, and even caffeine." Under extreme
amounts of alcohol a person will experience an "inability to stand or walk
without help, stupor and near unconsciousness, lack of comprehension of what is
seen or heard, shock, and breathing and heartbeat may stop." Even though these
effects occur only under an extreme amount of alcohol consumption, (.2-.5 BAL)
the fact is smoking extreme amounts of marijuana will do nothing more than put
you to sleep, while drinking