Cannabis key to future of U.S.

Ancient plant has many uses, from medicinal to industrial

by Jesse Rowland
originally posted here
Issue date: 2/16/10 Section: Opinion

Ever since I first learned what it was, I’ve been fascinated by marijuana. It’s a miraculous plant that can and has been used for a multitude of purposes since at least 8,000 B.C.E.

I feel that marijuana is a vital part of the continuation of our country and the planet, and it should be fully legalized for the use of whatever people see fit, including recreational.

Cannabis can be adapted with any industry, be it agricultural, medical, construction, textile or cosmetic. In Jamestown, Va., in 1619, a law “ordered” all farmers to grow marijuana for the colony. Similar laws were also passed in Massachusetts and Connecticut in 1631 and 1632. In Virginia, during times of shortage between 1763 and 1767, you could actually be jailed for not growing it.

Henry Ford, who designed a vehicle made out of hemp fibers and powered by hemp seed oil, once said, “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?”

And it makes sense. Why, as the most powerful country on the planet, would we not utilize the most versatile plant known to man?

According to the 2006 World Drug Report, Americans make up about 18 percent of the world’s cannabis users. The World Health Organization says that about 147 million people around the planet use marijuana.

Here in America, where marijuana is medically legal in 14 states, the Drug Enforcement Agency has a nasty habit of busting state-authorized patients and dispensaries because the federal law against it outweighs local jurisdiction.

On Oct. 2, 1937, Congress passed the first law criminalizing the sale, possession and distribution of marijuana. The first person arrested for the new crimes was Samuel R. Caldwell, who was busted for selling two joints to a friend the very same day the law was enacted. He was sentenced to four years of hard labor and a $1,000 fine while his friend received 18 months.

The judge said, “I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics, far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine. Under its influence men become beasts. Marijuana destroys life itself. I have no sympathy with those who sell this weed. The government is going to enforce this new law to the letter.”

Neither man was paroled, and one year after his release Caldwell died the first marijuana martyr; prison really can break a man.

Many citizens believe cannabis is a commendable resource that should be utilized whenever possible. If cannabis was to be grown on American soil, our productivity would increase immeasurably. For instance, paper companies would have a perfect opportunity to reduce their waste, seeing as papermaking is the fifth-largest energy-consuming industry and hemp is rapidly renewable. Just one acre of hemp produces as much paper as four and one half acres of trees so there would be a reduced amount of wasted space and more clean oxygen

Cannabis is also a useful source of fuel since it can be made into bio-diesel, which is more efficient than gasoline and costs less. In fact, Rudolph Diesel (who created diesel fuel) designed his engine to run on hemp. Farmers’ incomes would also increase since they can sell this marvelous cash crop for fuel, clothing, food, paper, diapers, carpet, soap and even molded plastics.

However, instead of taking advantage of the situation and growing it ourselves, we still purchase the insignificant amounts of hemp we do use from Asia, Australia and Europe.

To be blunt, it just makes no sense to keep cannabis outlawed. We need to use it in all forms possible for the good of the nation and the world. Prohibition has obviously failed, and with good reason… it makes a crime out of something that’s anything but criminal.

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