April 28, 1997





"Legalization of Marijuana"



Cannabis sativa or marijuana has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. The plant spreads like milkweed and will eventually run out any other plants nearby. In the wild, or grown with care marijuana can grow to be 3 - 20 feet high. The plant itself can be used for rope, material, medicine or for smoking. But, whatever way you choose to use this plant, it is illegal.

It was made a law in the early 1900?s that it was illegal to smoke, eat, or get high from this plant. The plant?s only legal use was for rope and materials. Even this was controlled by the government though. In the 1960?s and 1970?s a group of youth stereotyped as "Hippies" were using marijuana on a regular basis to get "high." This is the term for the effects of the drug when smoked. The effects are that of "ataxia, increased appetite, and a sensation of dryness in the throat." (A.P.E. L to M 193). These "hippies" fought to legalize it. Groups such as the major one, "N.O.R.M.A.L." formed to fight for the right to smoke marijuana. Protests were formed and marches and festivals were held.

On the other side of this was the government cracking down and forming new laws to keep it illegal. In the 1980?s the fight to legalize marijuana was decreased, but the groups like "N.O.R.M.A.L." were still around. Although the people weren?t so strong-willed to legalize it they still fought. New and harder drugs were now popular and marijuana wasn?t as "popular." In the early 1990?s the drug was once again popular after the side effects of the new drugs were seen. The drug?s popularity still increases today. Only there is more violence surrounding it in drug deals and gang wars. Although there would need to be regulations on it and new laws made. The legalization of marijuana would not only benefit the government but also the people.

Although the government and people would benefit, it would have a bad side. After many years of fighting to keep it illegal, the government would have to spend millions on new laws, regulations, and plans. Also the government has made treaties with other countries on keeping the world drug-free. America being the largest supporter of a drug-free society would be absolutely hypocritical to go and legalize. Other countries would become angry and think of us as money greedy, drug smoking fools. This would also hurt other countries because America would be a large drug trafficking area where people would come and buy a large amount and export to the still drug-free countries. America?s reputation could go down the drain. Not only would America?s reputation go down but also the fears of American citizens conducting every day life stoned from marijuana is a scary thought.

The effects of marijuana are not alcohol?s but would impair a person?s driving ability. Accidents would increase. People who would abuse the drug would not only jeopardize themselves but also others. It would have to be treated as driving while drinking and stiff laws and enforcement would have to be inflicted. These are the downsides to the drug, but with proper laws and methods the drug turn into money for the government.

If the government played it right, they could make billions of dollars from this one plant. In the early 1990?s the number one legal cash crop, corn, brought 16 billion dollars to the U.S. Marijuana blew this away with an estimated 24 billion dollars. If the government grew and kept track of marijuana, and sold licenses to farmers to grow it, the government would be able to pay off debts, help the economy and reduce violence-related to the drug all at the same time. They would also be able to sell the stocks of the plant as rope or material. Currently, many farmers are secretly growing marijuana to pay off their own debts. This is an inexpensive way to earn more cash from one plant than they could from a field of corn. The majority of these farmers were growing marijuana in the Midwest, but it?s really growing strong in the Appalachians to the Great Plains. "They look like they were torn from a page from the Saturday Evening Post" (SIRS under marijuana). In the hard!

economic times and in a business which depends on mother nature farmers have no back-up. If they were the proprietors of