Why is Marijuana an illegal substance today? With all the research on the benefits of Cannabis as a medicinal drug, why is the government allowing the sale of tobacco - known for its addictive tendencies - and calling Marijuana a ?gate-way? drug? Even enforcing strict penalties on all who grow it or smoke/ingest it? To explain why I support the idea of legalizing Marijuana and why I do not agree with it being made illegal in the first place, I first need to provide some background information on the Cannabis plant.
The story begins in 1619; this was a time when ?hemp? was used in many different ways. It was mainly used in the making of rope, jeans and other fabric; as well as for food, medicinal use and incense. Since Hemp was an essential harvest for a number of purposes - including provisions needed during War time - the government went out of its way to encourage growth. A law was passed by a decree of King James I in Jamestown Colony, Virginia, requiring farmers to grow 100 hemp plants exclusively for export, as there was a high demand. In the early 1700s Hemp was the primary crop grown by George Washington at Mount Vernon, and a secondary crop was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. There were several other ?must grow? laws over the next 200 years (you could be imprisoned for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender.
Cannabis did not start drawing too much negative attention until the 1930s. According to Jack Herer, author of ?The Emperor Wears no Clothes? and an expert on the ?hemp conspiracy?, 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 (later known as the DEA), and many other influential industrial leaders, such as William Randolph Hearst and Andrew Mellon. Hearst owned enormous timber acreage, DuPont had just discovered the fibre ?nylon?, Anslinger was an extremely ambitious man, and Mellon was DuPont?s chief financial backer. The year after the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, DuPont came out with Rayon, which would have been unable to compete with the strength of Hemp fibre or its economical process of manufacturing. It doesn?t take much to draw a connection between DuPont, Anslinger and Mellon, and it?s obvious that all of these groups, including Hearst, had strong motivation to prevent the growth of the Hemp Industry.
The reason behind DuPont, Anslinger and Hearst?s campaign against Hemp was not for any moral or health related issues; they fought to prevent the growth of this new industry so they wouldn?t go bankrupt. 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?
An entire industry could be created out of hemp based products. The oils extracted from seeds could be used for fuel. The hemp fibre, a fibre so valued for its strength this it is used to judge the quality of other fibres, could be manufactured into ropes, clothing or paper. Most importantly, the money the government would make from the taxes on the hemp plant and the money that would be saved by not trying to prevent its use could be focused on more important things.
Anslinger, Hearst and Dupont all had emotional attachments and financial gain to the illegalization of Marijuana. Working together, they made a campaign attacking Hemp, with racial slurs and unnecessary lies, greatly known as the ?Gore Files?. In a very influential time, when there were already questions and doubts regarding other drugs that were becoming popular, they played up certain issues and blamed it all on Marijuana. This was the beginning of Marijuana?s fall from grace. Since then a few things have changed. Medicinal uses of Marijuana are becoming more and more popular, and the public is becoming more informed. Hopefully old