That’s Like Me Essay, Research Paper

Throughout history marijuana has been used to

serve various purposes in many different

cultures. The purposes have changed over time

to fit in with the current lifestyles.

This pattern is also true in American history.

The use of marijuana has adapted to the social

climate of the time.

Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannibis

sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts

as early as 2700 B. C. in China. (Grolier Electronic

Encyclopedia, 1995). The cultivation of the

marijuana plant began as far back as the

Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp

produced from the marijuana plant’s fibers to make

rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing

because of it’s durability. These uses fit in with

the social climate of the time, because the main

focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive


During the prohibition, marijuana was widely

used because of the scarcity of alcohol. Prohibition

was repealed after just thirteen years while the prohibition

against marijuana lasted for more than seventy five years.

This double standard may have resulted from the wishes of

those in power. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at

tens of millions of Americans of all ages, including many of

societies most powerful members. Marijuana prohibition

threatened far fewer Americans, and they had relatively

little influence in the districts of power. Only the

prohibition of marijuana, which some sixty million

Americans have violated since 1965 has come close

to approximating the prohibition experience, but

marijuana smokers consist mostly of young and

relatively powerless Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).

Alcohol prohibition was repealed and

marijuana prohibition was retained, not because

scientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerous

of the various psychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudices

and preferences of most Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).

In 1937 the government issued the Marijuana Tax Act,

which levied a dollar an ounce tax on marijuana,

coupled with fines of $2,000 for drug posession and

jail sentences for evasion of the tax. For this

reason marijuana use in the United States appears

to have gone into decline in the late 30’s

(Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, pg 54).

Then marijuana was outlawed in 1937 as a

repressive measure against Mexican workers

who crossed the border seekingjobs during

the Depression. The specific reason given

for the outlawing of the hemp plant was it’s

supposed violent “effect on the degenerate races”

(Schaffer, pg. 86).

Beginning in the 60’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.

They used marijuana as an escape from war to peace.

It was easy at this time to depict marijuana as

a beneficial and completely harmless substance

whose effects were far less harmful than those

of legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine

because there was not enough scientific

research done during the 60’s (Grolier Wellness

Encyclopedia, pg 54).

Another cause may have been the discovery of

the psychoactive component of marijuana-

tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.

Users found the relation between the doses and

the effects (Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1995).

The current atmosphere provides for doctors to

suggest synthetic marijuana (THC) in a pure and

standardized form by perscription (called Marinol)

for the treatment of nausea associated with

cancer chemotherapy. Also, although there is no

scientific evidence that shows marijuana

is beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma,

it may prevent the progression of visual loss.

Marijuana, along with alcohol and a host of

other substances, can actually lower intraocular

eye pressure. The mediction however, must be carefully

tailored to the individual to prevent further eye damage.

The evidence has clearly shown that marijuana

has been around for a great deal of time

and has served multiple purposes throughout history.


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