60 Year Civil War Continues
The fight for the legalization of marijuana has been raging within America for decades. Millions of people in America have been ticketed or imprisoned for growing and possessing the drug. NORML reports, “Over 20 million American citizens have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965…while over 100 million Americans have used marijuana…most use it regularly.” (NORML, 2010) Although some have claimed to not have inhaled, they have still tried it. The country’s jails and prisons are packed to capacity; so much so that, they are releasing criminals back into society before serving out their sentences. American economical and judicial struggles have everyone, including the government, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and there is no relief in sight. The legalization of marijuana would bring economical and judicial relief to America.
Although most polls show up to 60 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, the White House shows no sign of surrender. “In fact, the default fate of any politician who publicly considers the legalization of marijuana is to be cast into the outer darkness…(Klein, 2009) There was some show of promise when previous pot puffing President Elect Barack Obama stated he would bud-out of medical marijuana issues. “[But] incoming drug czar Gill Kerlikowske declared…that legalization is not up for debate under any circumstances.” (Dickinson, 2009) While the opponents turn a blind eye to the benefits of legalization, and a deaf ear to the American voters, supporters are circling the wagons and preparing to fight for their freedom and rights. The debate over the legalization of marijuana and hemp continues to be the longest civil war in history, lasting 60 years to date.
The government first declared war in the 1950s, when they banned American farmers from cultivating hemp because of its relationship to marijuana. Hemp is the stock, leaves, and flowers off of the marijuana plant; it is used to make paper and over 25,000 other goods for trade. In early America, some farmers were mandated to grow hemp. As a matter of fact, “many of our earliest Presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, all grew hemp.” (Huff, 2010) America has strayed far from our founders’ intentions; far from the freedoms once had. Prohibition was wrong then, and it is wrong now; legalizing marijuana would only help the economical and judicial plight of America.
On the judicial side of the matter, American police officers have arrested or ticketed almost 900,000 people for smoking or possessing marijuana, which is just in the year 2008. The prohibition costs tax payers’ nearly $70 billion dollars a year on prisons and jails alone. Not to mention the almost $160 billion on police and court costs. (Klein, 2009) America’s prisons and jails are so over populated; prisoners are turned out into society before their sentences are complete. Violence occurs all along the Mexican/American boarders, drug cartels and thugs fighting over drug territories, murders and kidnappings are a frightening daily reality. Legalization will take the power away from the criminal, and pull America out of the judicial and economical hole the government has dug through years of prohibition.
Economically, the legalization of marijuana makes more sense than not. The money it cost to keep this war going alone could pay off some of America’s debt; the government could save billions in court costs, police salary, border patrol, and (DEA) Drug Enforcement Agency costs; leaving more money for education and reducing the defecate. Prisons would have 40% more room, so that hardened criminals could finish out sentences before being released. “It’s a crisis of incarceration…Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1,200 percent since 1980, “a senator from Virginia proclaimed to Dickinson. (Dickinson, 2009) This means that the cost to American tax payers goes up as well. The legalization of marijuana would also create jobs and a bailout for the American farmer; furthermore, stores selling hemp products and accessories would generate jobs and tax revenues, a potential economical stimulus package. The legalization of marijuana would create employment opportunities and tax revenues, economically reviving America.
Opponents spew skewed information across American airwaves to lasso the uncertain to their side, whereas, scientific information on the medicinal advantages of marijuana see little or no media coverage. Medical studies have shown that moderate marijuana smoking reduces the risks of some cancers; the THC in the marijuana has also been shown to “kill cancer cells, while leaving the healthy ones alone.” Most Americans also believe alcohol to be more dangerous than marijuana. In fact, health costs are lower in those whom partake in Cannabis, than those who drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.” (Armentano, 2010) Marijuana has also shown promise to those with mental illnesses, such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and anxiety. Even war veterans are now able to access medicinal marijuana without fear of losing their benefits; it seems as if the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are loosening their reigns of prohibition, changing their stance on the use of marijuana among veterans. (CMAJ, 2010) The legalization of marijuana could save billions of dollars in health care costs, therefore, helping America’s economy.
The opposition wants Americans to believe that ending prohibition would be society’s immoral down-fall. That, children would have easier access, violence would increase, and the very moral fiber of America would unravel at the seams. On the contrary, an ID would have to be shown in order to purchase marijuana, just like cigarettes and alcohol, making it more difficult for minors’ to obtain (a drug dealer does not ask for ID). Individuals caught driving under the influence of marijuana would be subjected to the current penalties for DUI offenses. Studies have shown that marijuana eases anxiety and relaxes the mind; therefore, acts of violence should go down, not up; some individuals even claimed to have formed a relationship with God, a peaceful existence. Taking the criminals “corner on the market” would decrease the violence that already exists, freeing officers and detention staff to tend to other charges. For every excuse the opposition has for not legalizing marijuana, supporters’ has at least three logical reasons why it would be best for America. The legalization of marijuana would only help in the economical and judicial reform of America.
When users speak of the relief that marijuana provides them, it is hard to envision the picture that the opponents’ paint of the drug. Patients’ proclaim pain relief that they have never gotten from narcotics, without the nausea and chemicals. A war veteran explains to the Canadian Medical Association Journal about the first time he tried the controversial medication.
“What I experienced was different. I experienced relief. I was a mess and for the first time in months I felt relief. At that moment, it was a new relationship with that plant.” (CMAJ, 2010)
There are many testimonies just like this across America. Patients with cancer, HIV, MS, and other chronic and deadly illnesses rave about the relief from symptoms they receive from the use of medicinal marijuana, in fact, most non-patients’ state if sick they would consider its use. One cancer patient stated, “If it were not for medical marijuana, I would not be able to eat a thing.” (Hicks, 2010) Claiming the drug cures the nausea caused by chemotherapy. The legalization of marijuana would give access to this relief to all Americans for purchase; this will produce state and federal revenue, which will help the American economy.
Yet, with all the proof of medicinal, social, and economic benefits, the government still refuses to discuss the possibilities of ending pot prohibition. The American voters’ must force the hand of government to relinquish the right back to the people of the United States. When an entity claims dominion gaining full control and dictatorship, resentment will fill the hearts of the people. In this war only one flag is considered a sign of peace and surrender, the end of the war; the red, white, and blue, waving a promise of legalization and restoration of the peoples’ right!
Armentano, P. (2010, August 29). 5 things the corporate media and government don’t want you to know. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/148013
CMAJ, Initials. (2010). United States war veterans gain access to medicinal marijuana. Canadian Medical Association Journal, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.109-3334
Dickinson, T. (2009, June 25). A drug war truce? Rolling Stone, (1081), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.wf2dnvr8.webfeat.org/ehost/delivery?vid=3&hid=17&sid=c7eaa…
Gutierrez, D. (2009, July 25). Marijuana has anti-cancer properties. Retrieved from http://www.nayuralnews.com/z026697_research_marijuana
Huff, E.A. (2010, May 23). Hemp history week, a look back at America’s hemp heritage. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/z028852_hemp_history.html
Huff, E. (2009, November 16). American medical association urges federal government to support medicinal marijuana. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/z027499_marijuana_medicinalgovernment
Klein, J. (2009, April 16). Why legalizing marijuana makes sense. Time, Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1889021,00.html
Messerli, J. (2010, April 20). Should marijuana be legalized under any circumstances? Retrieved from Http://balancedpolitics.org/marijuana_legalization.html
NORML, Initials. (2010, March 5). Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Retrieved from http://www.norml.org
Sullum, J. (2010, Aug/Sep). Pot tolerance hits a high. Reason, 42(4), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.wf2dnvr8.webfeat.org/ehost/delivery?vid=3&hid=6&sid=1146d.