A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly fifteen hundred pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response... In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many of the foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death." DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young. Between 9 and 17 million Americans are occasional users of marijuana and about 3 million are daily users. As many as 40 million have tried the drug for many different reasons such as experimentation and peer pressure (Schleichert 40). Much of America's youth is experimenting with the drug and between 1991 and 1994 the amount of eighth graders that used the drug increased two-fold. Marijuana effects each person based on many different factors including heredity, availability of the substance, expectations on how the drug will affect you, and the influence of friends. In 1988 it was discovered that tetrahyrdrocannabinol, (THC) the active chemical in marijuana, binds to certain protein receptors of nerve cells and once in place, THC begins the cellular reactions that cause the "high". Marijuana can help the United States if it was legalized. Marijuana has withstood the test of time and should be legalized because the medicinal, economic and environmental benefits out weigh the negative aspects.
Marijuana is thought to have originated in central Asia and spread all over the world through trade. There is evidence that the Chinese had been growing the crop for over 5000 years; using it as a source of fiber, cloth, paper, oil, medicine and in some cases as an intoxicant (Abel 32). A Chinese emperor named Shen-Nung, noted that it was called ma-yo, and was recommended both as a painkiller during operations and occasionally for pleasure because of its intoxicating affects. In India marijuana was holy and was given to people by the Hindu god Shiva as a gift. It was taken as a drink mixed with milk and sugar, and was available to many people because it was inexpensive. (Abel 33) Use in ancient Rome was noted around 70 A.D. by a physician named Pedacius Dioscorides in a book about plants and their healing characteristics. The book contained information that marijuana was a good remedy for earaches, and this treatment was used throughout Europe for about 1500 years. Recently scientists discovered a body of a woman who died of childbirth 1600 years ago. Close to the body, a burnt substance was found and with later investigation the substance was determined to be marijuana. Scientists concluded that marijuana was used to ease labor pains (Abel 33).
Marijuana use in the United States is more recent. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew marijuana on their estates and Washington said to "Make the most of the hemp seed, and sow it everywhere" (Schleichert 9). During the early 1800's marijuana was sold as...