by Jon Moschetti
One of the great debates of the 21st century and even during the turn of the century was the dangers and benefits of Marijuana (more commonly known as weed). During the last couple of years, weed has been legalized for medical purposes in most of the country and is slowly starting to gain footing for full on legalization with 21 states legalizing it for medical purposes only and 8 states plus Washington D.C legalizing it for recreational use. By 2020 several more states are projected to legalize Marijuana for recreational use. According to Narconon.org, Marijuana was first used around 2737 B.C by the Chinese but didn’t start reaching Europe until around 500 A.D. Marijuana was first brought to North America by the Spanish around 1545 but didn’t become a major crop until about 1611 where it was grown alongside tobacco.
By 1890 Hemp had been replaced by cotton as the biggest cash crop for the US. Started in the 1930’s the Federal Bureau of Narcotics sought to portray Marijuana as a very addictive and dangerous drug that will ultimately lead to the use of much more powerful narcotics. By the 1950’s Marijuana had started being classified as a “Gateway drug” and still is by some. Even though marijuana has never been shown to cause symptoms of intense addiction. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and overall made it federally illegal. Today marijuana is still illegal federally but slowly gaining footing across the country and being legalized on a state level mostly for medical purposes.
Though marijuana is legal in a handful of states it is still a federal crime so federal laws still apply and dispensaries can be raided and grow operations can still be charged by a federal court. Medical marijuana is still not an FDA approved substance because the FDA requires large clinical trials to determine the benefits and risks associated with the plant. According to a 2014 report by Business Insider, Medical marijuana has been shown to help treat glaucoma and help people cope with diseases such as, cancer, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and Parkinson’s.
With all these health benefits and seemingly zero downsides it’s a miracle that substances like cigarettes and alcohol are still legal while marijuana which has never had a single death in history attributed to it and is seemingly harmless and non-addictive, is still illegal. I not only want marijuana legalized for the sake of recreation use and medical use but the financial gain attributed to the marijuana trade is insane. Colorado made nearly $1 billion dollars in 2015 attributed solely to legal marijuana sales. Those numbers are crazy for something that was illegal less than a year prior. If marijuana is legalized I think that the US debt could be paid within the next 10 years and we may even discover the cure for Cancer with it. We won’t know unless we try and from where I see it we can’t make any progress until marijuana is ultimately legalized.