Monday, April 20, 2015

The Full Legalization of Marijuana Still Makes Sense 12 Years Later

HAPPY 4/20!! In celebration of this stoner holiday I am blogging my persuasive speech from the Public Speaking class I had in college back in 2003! Also because, I am going a bit retrospective. I am hoping to post for the next month or so from memory, reflecting on some events, things, or concerts I haven't managed to document yet. After all, this is for when I forget. So, the following is my persuasive speech. I put off this class until my last semester because I had so much anxiety about public speaking, also, my professor told me that my chosen topic had been done and done before, she has been doing this 30 years and had seen this and that and was it really important, she asked? Yes. So, I chose it anyway, and presented this speech (or what mostly is this speech, as I am not sure if this is the final copy of what was presented on that day)...for which I received an A+ with the comment "Very persuasive!" Made me proud. Here it is:

Marijuana is a plant. I know, you’re thinking, yeah, moron, we know, but I just want you to think about that for a minute. It has leaves, a stem, a root system---it’s a plant. It takes in carbon dioxide, gives off oxygen. It grows naturally on the earth---it’s a plant, you see, and that’s what plants do. Cigarettes and cigars both come from a plant. Alcohol is made from plants. Marijuana is a plant, just like them, but it is illegal. Why is marijuana discriminated against? What’s up with making a plant illegal in a country that was founded on the idea of freedom?

People may claim that I, and people like myself, are just ranting pot heads, but in a country where anti-marijuana commercials are followed by “This Bud’s For You!” and “It’s Miller Time”, something can’t be right. It is in my opinion that the prohibition of marijuana for recreational use by the federal government is a hypocritical, social injustice, especially when compared to the legality of other drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. 

First, I feel that it’s important to understand the history of the prohibition of marijuana. Marijuana has been illegal under the system of prohibition since 1937 in the United States. The first crop was grown in 1611, but the practice of smoking marijuana was not introduced until the 1920’s. It was introduced by the same people that used opiates, the immigrants. Since immigrants were seen as violent and unwanted, marijuana, which was used primarily by them at the time, was classified as a narcotic. It was used legally for awhile. During the prohibition of alcohol, it was welcomed as a worthy substitute. During the 20’s, it was in over 40% of the medicines of that time, however, by 1937, all states had anti-marijuana laws. During the same year, the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act. This law required tax stamps to possess marijuana, but also required the presentation of the marijuana in order to receive the stamp---but if you were presenting the marijuana in order to get a stamp, you already possessed the marijuana without a tax stamp---which was a violation of federal law. This trick already made it impossible to legally possess marijuana, but the details of the act are irrelevant because no stamps were ever issued. Also, during this time period no tests were done regarding marijuana and its effects. It essentially became illegal because of misconception---and blatant lies. Even though marijuana was illegal, the government had to convince the ever-curious Americans that “weed was bad”. The first fight against marijuana was one of silence. If youths didn’t hear about it---they wouldn’t experiment. In the 1930’s, it was deemed that no schools could talk about marijuana.

The anti-pot population’s idea of silence didn’t work very well, so they moved on to strategy two---exaggeration. This was the age of “Reefer Madness”. The American Journal wrote, “Marijuana users will suddenly turn with murderous violence upon whoever is nearest to them. He will run amuck with knife, axe, gun, or anything else that is close to the hand, and will kill or maim without reason.” One doesn’t even have to smoke marijuana to see that that is an asinine exaggeration. Today, now that marijuana has actually been tested and studied, we can see that what they were telling people in the 30’s were blatant lies. Either way, marijuana is still illegal.

But what is their reason? In my opinion, no argument for the prohibition of marijuana is logical, not to mention that all arguments become invalid and hypocritical when we look at the legality of tobacco and alcohol. The War on Drugs is a horrid hypocrisy because it only targets certain drugs. It seems that people don’t realize that alcohol and tobacco are drugs. If you drink, even occasionally, if you smoke cigarettes or cigars---you are a drug user. And yet, marijuana is illegal and these drugs are not. This does not make logical sense. Our government’s arguments for the prohibition of marijuana do little to defend their cause.

The government argues that they have to protect the people. Well, how dangerous is this plant compared to the other legal drugs that the government says are okay for their people to have? These are the number of deaths that result directly or primarily from the following cause. Tobacco---kills 340,000 to 450,000 people each year. Alcohol kills over 150,000 people, not including the 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders. Aspirin (including deliberate overdose) kills 180 to 1,000 or more people. Caffeine (from stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heart beats, etc.)---kills 1,000 to 10,000 people. “Legal” Drug Overdose (deliberate or accidental), this would be prescription medication, kills 14,000 27,000 people each year. Illicit Drug Overdose (deliberate or accidental), kills 3,800 to 5,200 people each year. Marijuana kills 0 people each year.

All of the studies done at American universities and research facilities show marijuana toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not show anyone dying from an overdose. Medicinal drugs are given what is called and LD-50. The LD-50 rating indicates at what dosage half of the test animals receiving the drug will die. Researches have attempted to determine marijuana’s LD-50, and failed. It’s estimated that it is somewhere around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. Simply put, in order to induce death, one would have to consume as much marijuana as there is in 20,000 to 40,000 marijuana cigarettes. NIDA-supplied joints weigh around .9 grams. So, theoretically speaking, you would have to consume 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to overdose. Logically speaking, it is impossible to die from marijuana, and yet, our government feels the need to “protect us”. The government’s claim that it’s a threat to the people is invalid and illogical, and so are the arguments that it destroys your short-term memory and decreases reaction time. Alcohol and tobacco do worse things to your body than marijuana. It’s asinine that people argue this point when alcohol and tobacco are legal.

Alcohol and tobacco have been proven to cause more health problems than marijuana, but we have the right to consume them and use them, as we should. They have both been proven to be addictive. Marijuana has never been proven to be addictive. Alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver, not to mention 50% of all highway accidents. Marijuana users have the same or lower incidences of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general non-marijuana using population as a whole. Tobacco kills almost 10 times as many people as all illegal drugs combined. Tobacco companies add chemicals, like urea and arsenic, to their cigarettes. They add cocoa and licorice---when burnt, they act as broncho-dilators, enabling even more nicotine to get into your body to ensure you’ll become addicted and buy more of their drug. Tobacco companies are drug lords---they spend billions of dollars each year pushing a product they know kills people. How can this be legal in our country when marijuana is not? Many young, up-and-coming politicians are given large sums of money to finance their political campaigns. It’s obvious that these politicians, once elected to office, wouldn’t say or do anything against the tobacco companies when their political career was essentially funded by the tobacco industry.

Another argument for the prohibition of marijuana is the gateway drug theory. This argument is invalid because it should be expected that more people who smoke pot move to harder drugs than non-smokers. They’ve already proven themselves curious enough to try drugs in the first place. I’m sure a similar link could be made between alcohol drinkers and marijuana smokers, but alcohol isn’t targeted as a gateway drug. Let us not forget about free will. People addicted to heroin at one time made a personal choice to use it. It’s completely absurd to claim “the weed made me do it!”

In conclusion, prohibition does not work---there has been no permanent change in usage because of the legal penalties. The DEA spends $1.3 billion a year trying to stop marijuana. Over 4 million people have been put in jail for marijuana charges. The answer is full legalization. The anti-marijuana community argues that this will lead to a drug-usage increase, even though all evidence proves otherwise. Holland legalized marijuana in 1976 and the amount of users actually went down by 40%. Wouldn’t it be better to legalize and monitor its usage instead of imprisoning smokers that are no more criminals than alcohol and tobacco users? I urge you to take a stand against the prohibition. Don’t let this wonderful plant be against the law.