The Various Purposes of Marijuana

The Various Purposes of Marijuana
Throughout history marijuana has been used to serve various purposes in many different cultures. The purposeshave changed over time to fit in with the current lifestyles. This pattern isalso true in American history. The use of marijuana has adapted to the socialclimate of the time. Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannabis sativa, wasmentioned in historical manuscripts as early as 2700 B. C. in China. (GrolierElectronic Encyclopedia, 1995). The cultivation of the marijuana plant began asfar back as the Jamestown settlers, around 1611, which used hemp produced fromthe marijuana plant?s fibers to make rope and canvas. It was also used inmaking clothing because of its durability. These uses fit in with the socialclimate of the time, because the main focus was on survival rather than forpsychoactive purposes. During the prohibition, marijuana was widely usedbecause of the scarcity of alcohol. Prohibition was repealed after justthirteen years while the prohibition against marijuana lasted for more than seventy-fiveyears. This double standard may have resulted from the wishes of those inpower. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at tens of millions of Americans ofall ages, including many of societies most powerful members. Marijuanaprohibition threatened far fewer Americans, and they had relatively littleinfluence in the districts of power.
Only the prohibition of marijuana, whichsome sixty million Americans have violated since 1965 has come close toapproximating the prohibition experience, but marijuana smokers consist mostlyof young and relatively powerless Americans (American Heritage, pg 47). Alcoholprohibition was repealed and marijuana prohibition was retained, not becausescientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerous of the variouspsychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudices and preferences of mostAmericans (American Heritage, pg 47). In 1937 the government issued theMarijuana Tax Act, which levied a dollar an ounce tax on marijuana, coupledwith fines of $2,000 for drug possession and jail sentences for evasion of thetax. For this reason marijuana use in the United States appears to have goneinto decline in the late 30?s (Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg 54). Thenmarijuana was outlawed in 1937 as a repressive measure against Mexican workerswho crossed the border seekingjobs during the Depression. The specific reasongiven for the outlawing of the hemp plant was it?s supposed violent"effect on the degenerate races" (Schaffer, pg. 86). Beginning in the60?s marijuana use saw a resurgence, which may be attributed to many causes.One of the main causes was the rebellion of youth against the Vietnam War. Theyused marijuana as an escape from war to peace. It was easy at this time todepict marijuana as a beneficial and completely harmless substance whoseeffects were far less harmful than those of legal drugs such as alcohol andnicotine because there was not enough scientific research done during the 60?s(Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg 54). Another cause may have been thediscovery of the psychoactive component of marijuana- tetrahydrocannabinol,commonly known as thc. Users found the relation between the doses and theeffects (Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1995). The current atmosphere providesfor doctors to suggest synthetic marijuana (thc) in a pure and standardizedform by prescription (called Marinol) for the treatment of nausea associatedwith cancer chemotherapy. Also, although there is no scientific evidence thatshows marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma, it may prevent theprogression of visual loss. Marijuana, along with alcohol and a host of othersubstances, can actually lower interlobular eye pressure. The medicationhowever, must be carefully tailored to the individual to prevent further eyedamage. The evidence has clearly shown that marijuana has been around for agreat deal of time and has served multiple purposes throughout history.

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