Every year, 400,000 Americans die of complications caused by tobacco products. Smoking kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, murder, suicide, car accidents, fires, and AIDS all put together. Every week, eight children under the age of eighteen die from alcohol related crashes. Alcohol abuse contributes to almost 50% of all traffic accidents, suicides, and homicides. However, despite the proven dangers of these “socially acceptable” drugs, they are still legal.
Marijuana, a much less acceptable drug, is not legal however, despite the fact that research has yet to pin any specific dangers to this drug.
Aside from the health issues of marijuana, there are the many other aspects to consider when one broaches the topic of legalizing pot. Many arguments exist as to why marijuana should be legalized. Among these arguments exist the campaign of false propaganda that led to the ban on marijuana, the extreme harshness of marijuana laws, and the positive utilizations of the drug. The initial prohibition on marijuana was a mistake, and it is ridiculous that this recreational drug remains illegal after 63 years. When one weighs the pros and cons of re-legalizing marijuana, the logical result is to abolish the senseless ban on pot.
The events that led up to the prohibition on marijuana in 1937 are shady to say the least. For hundreds of years marijuana was noted as a cash crop from which clothing, rope, ship sails, and even bibles were made. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the utilization of marijuana as a recreational drug became primarily associated with the Mexican-American immigrant workers and African-American jazz musician communities (http://www.natlnorml.org/facts/crazy.partI.
shtml). The time old plant name of “Hemp” was replaced with “Marihuana” and was also referred to as “The Devil’s Weed.” This period of time saw the creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which immediately launched a misinformation campaign that exploited Hollywood and several tabloid newspapers in order to exaggerate the effects of marijuana on society. Inflated accounts of the effects of marijuana included violent crimes, users going crazy, and death from marijuana usage.
This propaganda led to 27 states passing marijuana restriction laws. The Marijuana Tax Act, which would make use of marijuana a criminal offense, was introduced in April of 1937.
The two congressional hearings combined totaled less than one hour. Oddly enough, these hearings were bases solely on the propaganda of the media. When the American Medical Association (AMA) came forward to state, among other things, that there was no proof that marijuana was at all harmful and that prohibiting the drug would severely compromise physicians’ abilities to utilize the therapeutic qualities of the plant, AMA Legislative Council Dr. William C. Woodward was told:
If you want to advise us on legislation, you ought to come here with some constructive proposals ..
. rather than trying to throw obstacles in the way of something that the federal government is trying to do. (U.S. Congress, House of Ways and Means Committee)
After the bill was passed in the Ways and Means Committee, it moved on the House of Representatives. The House passed the bill after 90 seconds of debate.
During this debate, one representative asked whether the AMA supported the bill. The Speaker of the House informed him falsely that the bill had the AMA’s full support. As can be observed by such actions, the federal government did not care one way or another about obtaining facts and evidence from the medical community. The underhanded way in which the government passed their prohibition on marijuana is reason enough for it to be revoked. Laws cannot be passed based solely on propaganda and exaggerations from the media and individuals who have no back round in the subject.
If one were to ignore the shady and deceitful ways in which the government criminalized the usage of marijuana, plenty evidence as to why it should be legalized still exists.
Despite the 63 yearlong prohibitions on the drug, pot remains the third most popular recreational drug. After all these years, the stereotype that pot smoking is a fringe or deviant activity must be brought down. In reality, marijuana smoking is extremely common and marijuana is the recreational drug of choice for millions of mainstream, middle class Americans. A national survey .