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Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1996 17:54:32 -0600 (CST)
From: peter 

The Truth About Marijuana

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 "can be documented as far back as 
2700 BC in ancient Chinese writings."  When someone says bhanga, ganja, 
kinnub, cannabis, bung, chu ts-ao, asa, 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 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, 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, land best suited for 
conventional pulp, 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.  "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'" (ibid).
	DuPont's involvment 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 next 50 years" 
(ibid).  Indeed it should be noted that "two years before the prohibitive 
hemp tax in 1937, DuPont developed a new synthetic fiber, nylon, which 
was an ideal substitute for hemp rope"  (Hartsell).  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).  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 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 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 
toxicm, potentially letal 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 is illogical 
then, for marijuana to be illegal in the United States when "alcohol 
poisoning is a significant 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 
favourably 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 insane amounts of alcohol 
consumption, (.2-.5 BAL) the fact is smoking extreme amounts of marijuana 
will do nothing more than put you to sleep, whereas drinking excessive 
amounts of alcohol will kill you.
	The most profound activist for marijuana's use as a medicine is 
Dr. Lester Grinspoon, author of Marihuana:  The Forbidden Medicine.  
According to Grinspoon, "The only well-confirmed negative effect of 
marijuana is caused by the smoke, which contains three times more tars 
and five times more carbon monoxide than tobacco.  But even the heaviest 
marijuana smokers rarely use as much as an average tobacco smoker.  And, 
of course, many prefer to eat it."  His book includes personal accounts 
of how prescribed marijuana alleviated epilepsy, weight loss of aids, 
nausea of chemotherapy, menstrual pains, and the severe effects of 
multiple sclerosis.  The illness with the most documentation and harmony 
among doctors which marijuana has successfully treated is MS.  Grinspoon 
believes for MS sufferers, "Cannabis is the drug of necessity."  One 
patient of his, 51 year old Elizabeth MacRory, says "It has completely 
changed my life...It has helped with muscle spasms, allowed me to sleep 
properly, and helped control my bladder."  Marijuana also proved to be 
effective in the treatment of glaucoma because its use lwoers pressure on 
the eye. 
	"In a recent survey at a leading teaching hospital, 'over 60 per 
cent of medical students were found to be marijuana users.'  In the same 
survey, only 30 per cent admitted to smoking cigarettes"  (Guardian).  
Brian Hilliard, editor of Police Review, says "Legalizing cannabis 
wouldn't do any harm to anybody.  We should be concentrating on the 
serious business of heroin and amphetamines."  "In the UK in 1991, 42,209 
people were convicted of marijuana charges, clogging courts and 
overcrowding prisons...and almost 90 per cent of drug offences invlove 
cannabis...The British government spends 500 million pounds a year on 
"overall responses to drugs" but receives no tax revenue from the 
estimated 1.8 billion pound illicit drug market"  (Guardian).  Figures 
like this can be seen in the United States as well.  The U.S. spends 
billions of dollars annually in its "war on drugs."  If the government 
were to legalize marijuana, it could reasonably place high taxes on it 
because people are used to buying marijuana at inflated prices created by 
risks of selling illegally.  It could be sold at a convenient store just 
like a pack of cigarettes for less than someone would pay now, but still 
yield a high profit because of easy growing requirements.
	An entire industry could be created out of hemp based products.  
The oils extracted from seeds could be used for fuels and the hemp fiber, 
a fiber so valued for its strength that it is used to judge the quality 
of other fibers, could be manufactured into ropes, clothing, or paper.  
Most importantly, the money the government would make from taxes and the 
money which would be saved by not trying to prevent its use could be used 
for more important things, such as serious drugs or the national debt.
	The recreational use of marijuana would not stimulate crime like 
some would argue.  The crime rate in Amsterdam is lower than many major 
U.S. cities.  Mario Lap, a key drug policy advisor in the Netherlands 
national government says "We've had a realistic drug policy for 30 years 
in the Netherlands, and we know what works.  We distinguish between soft 
and hard drugs, between traffickers and users.  We try not to make people 
into criminals"  (Houston Chronicle).  In 1989 the LAncet report states 
"The Dutch have shown that there is nothing inevitable about the drugs 
ladder in which soft drugs lead to heard drugs.  The ladder does not 
exist in Holland because the dealers have been separated."
	We can expect strong opposition from companies like DuPont and 
paper manufacturerss but the selfishness of these corporations should not 
prevent its use in our society like it did in the 1930's.  Regardless of 
what these organizations will say about marijuana, the fact is it has the 
potential to become one of the most useful substances in the entire 
world.  If we took action and our government legalized it today, we would 
immediately see benefits from this decision.  People suffering from 
illnesses ranging from manic depression to multiple sclerosis would be 
able to experience relief, the government could make a fortune off of the 
taxes it could impose on its sale, and its implementation into the 
industrial world would create thousands of new jobs for the economy.  
Also, because of its role in paper making, the rain forests of South 
America could be saved from their current fate.  No recorded deaths have 
ever occurred as a result of marijuana use, it is not physically 
addictive like alcohol or tobacco, and most doctors will agree it is 
safer to use.

comments are welcome! thanks :)