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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Legalization Of Marijuana - 1288 words
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.. e no currentlyapproved uses for marijuana in the United States,except for two states California and Arizona,which have legalized marijuana for medicinalpurposes. Clinical research has shown that THC iseffective in reducing the nausea that cancerpatients experience when they are treated withchemotherapy. Marijuana is also believed tostimulate appetite. In asthma patients, severalstudies have shown that THC acts as abronchodilator and reserves bronchial constriction(Rosenthal 68).
In treating epilepsy, marijuana isused to prevent both grande mal and otherepileptic seizures in some patients. Marijuana alsolimits the muscle pain and spasticity caused bymultiple sclerosis and it relieves tremor andunsteady gait. Lastly, marijuana has been clinicallyshown to be effective in relieving muscle spasmand spasticity (Rosenthal 69). History ofMarijuana Laws The hemp plant was once awidely cultivated plant in the New World bysettlers. It has been known for centuries that thefiber from the hemp plant is very useful in makingropes. Therefore the cultivation of the hemp plantwas encouraged and much needed
The first lawconcerning the hemp plant was passed in 1619 bythe Virginia Assembly, urging farmers to grow thecrop for its fiber. There was virtually no significantlegislation passed concerning the hemp plant untilthe 1900's. It was at this time when Americanattitudes towards Mexicans became hostile.Marijuana obtained a foul reputation whenMexican peasants crossed the border into Texas.It was widely used by Mexican peasants as anintoxicant. The Texas police claimed thatmarijuana caused these Mexican settlers tocommit violent crimes. Therefore in 1914, the firstban on possession of marijuana was passed in ElPaso, Texas (Potter 97).
Many other statesfollowed Texas, and in 1937, Congress passedthe Marijuana Tax Act. This law made thepossession of marijuana illegal anywhere in theUnited States. During the McCarthy era, theBoggs Acts were passed to define mandatoryminimums for the possession of marijuana.Congress moved to an even stronger position in1956 by lengthening these mandatory minimumsentences. Anti-marijuana feelings continued togrow, and state laws often imposed stricterpenalties than the federal penalties (Potter 98). Inthe 1960's, however, a strange phenomenonbegan to occur.
For the first time in history,marijuana use began to rise amongst the whitemiddle class. Many mandatory sentences werecalled to be repealed. This was seen in theComprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention andControl Act of 1970. Most of the states followedthe federal government, and the possession ofmarijuana was decriminalized. However in the1980's the government once again changed itsmind, with the passage of the Anti-Abuse Act of1986, which once again imposed mandatoryminimum sentences for a wide range of drugoffenses (Potter 101).
The last major piece oflegislation passed by the federal government (notstate governments) was in 1996, which stated thatany American convicted of a marijuana felony mayno longer receive federal welfare or food stamps(Potter 101). How a Bill Becomes a Law Theultimate goal for a special interest group would beto have a law passed by the federal governmenteither legalizing marijuana, or keeping marijuanaillegal. A bill or proposal for a law can originate ineither the Senate or the House of Representativesof the United States Congress. Both houses mustpass the law in its exact form, and then thepresident must sign it. If a group wants marijuanato be legalized on the federal level, it must contacta specific committee within the House or Senate.The proposal would go to a highly specializedsub-committee within the committee itself forhearings, revisions, and approval. Next the billwould again go back to the original committee forany further revisions.
If the whole committeeapproves the bill, then it goes before the Rulescommittee. This is the committee that isresponsible for setting actions for a debate. Afterthe debate, if the bill is approved, then it issubmitted to the Senate. In the Senate, similarproceedings would occur and leadership wouldschedule action and the bill would be debated. Ifthe Senate approves it, any differences areworked out by conference with the House. Thefinal version of the bill would finally go back toboth the Senate and the House for approval. Thenit will go to the President who may either opt tosign the bill or veto it.
If the bill is signed, itbecomes a law, and it is enforced throughout thenation. If the President vetoes the bill, Congressmay override the veto with a two-thirds majority ineach house. This would then turn the bill into alaw. Advocates for Legalization (Interview withCharles Garner) A major advocate for thelegalization of marijuana is the Drug PolicyFoundation (DPF). It is an independent, non-profitorganization with over 23,000 supporters thatpublicizes alternatives to current drug strategies.The current annual budget for DPF is just over $3million.
DPF believes that the current policy ondrugs is not working: It erodes individual rights, isextremely expensive, creates a new class ofcriminals, subsidizes a violent black market, doesnot control drug use trends, and ignores the healthaspect of drug use. The major objectives of DPFare: ? Harm reduction: policies that help drug usersto help themselves, such as needle exchangeprograms, which can lower the risk of spreadingdeadly diseases like HIV/AIDS. ?Decriminalization: selectively enforcing the laws onthe books to focus on major drug offenders, as inHolland. ? Medicalization: allowing doctors toprescribe otherwise illegal drugs to patients undercertain conditions, as is the case now in Arizonaand California, and also allowing doctors tomaintain an addict as in Great Britain andSwitzerland. ? Legalization: making drugs availableto adults in a regulated market, similar to U.S.alcohol laws. DPF tries to propose its solutions bymeans of: ? Public education: promotingalternatives to the drug war in its publications andby providing information to the public, the media,and government officials.
? Conferences: DPFhosts an annual conference for the public,policy-makers, public health workers, and medicaland legal professionals. This ranges from mediaseminars to special interest group training sessions.? Public Policy: Through its Public Policy Office,DPF seeks to change America's drug laws bymonitoring and analyzing Congressional legislation,informing the public and DPF membership aboutlegislation through Action Alerts and the monthlynewsletter on legislation. ? Grants: to fund avariety of programs and projects in the field ofdrug policy. Examples include needle exchangeprograms, pioneering drug treatment services, aswell as some research and advocacy projects.Advocates Against Legalization (Interview withJeffery Kluger) Drug Watch International (DWI) isa volunteer, non-profit information network andadvocacy organization, which promotes thecreation of healthy drug-free cultures in the world,and it opposes the legalization of drugs. It hasabout 13,000 members in 15 countries worldwidewith a budget of $1.3 million annually. Theorganization upholds a comprehensive approachto drug issues involving prevention, education,intervention/treatment, and lawenforcement/interdiction.
In its mission statement,DWI writes: The illegal or harmful use ofpsychoactive or addictive drugs is a major threatto all world communities and future generations.The mission of DWI is to provide accurateinformation on both illicit and harmful psychoactivesubstances, promoting sound drug policies basedon scientific research, and opposing efforts tolegalize or decriminalize drugs. The major methodsused by DWI are: ? Support clear messages andstandards of no illegal use of alcohol, tobacco andother drugs, and no abuse of legal drugs orsubstances for adults or youth. ? Supportcomprehensive and coordinated approaches thatinclude prevention, education, law enforcement,and treatment in addressing issues regardingalcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. ? Supportstrong laws and meaningful legal penalties that holdusers and dealers accountable for their actions. ?Support international treaties and agreements,including international sanctions and penaltiesagainst drug trafficking, and oppose attempts toweaken international drug policies and laws.
?Support adherence to scientific research standardsand ethics that are prescribed by the worldscientific community and professional associationsin conducting studies and review on alcohol,tobacco and other drugs. ? Support efforts toprevent availability and use of drugs, and opposepolicies and programs that accept drug use basederroneously on reduction or minimization of harm.BIBLIOGRAPHY Abel, I. L. Marihuana : TheFirst Twelve Thousand Years. New York :McGraw Hill, 1982.
Garner, Charles. PersonalInterview. May 21, 1998. Kluger, Jeffery.Personal Interview. May 16, 1998.
Nahas,Gabriel G. Marihuana, Biological Effects. Illionois :Univeristy of Illinois Press, 1986. Potter, Beverly.The Healing Magic of Cannabis. California : RoninPublishings, Inc., 1998.
Randall, Robert C. ThePatients Fight for Medicinal Pot. New York :Thunders Mouth Press, 1998. Roffman, Roger A.Marijuana as Medicine. Washington : MadronaPublishers, Inc., 1982. Rosenthal, Ed. WhyMarijuana Should Be Legal.
New York :Thunder's Mouth Press, 1996.
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