Some of you might be wondering what the title means, some of you might not. Regardless, I’m going to tell you what it means. Cannabis is the official name for marijuana. That’s right. I said marijuana, the infamous psychoactive drug you’ve heard so much about. Most of you believe this drug as harmful, addictive, “a gateway drug” as it is technically illegal here in the U.S., but I believe that it’s actually beneficial to the quality of life. There are many reasons to use this drug as its adverse effects are heavily outweighed by its good ones. To fully understand this discourse, you must first understand what the drug is and what its effects are when a person induces it.
Marijuana is a mixture of dried and shredded leaves, seeds, stems, and flowers of the cannabis plant (NIDAT). There are different ways to using it. The most common method is that of smoking it through what is called a “joint”, which basically is marijuana rolled up with paper. Sometimes people smoke it through a water pipe or a “bong.” Others hollow out cigars and fill them in with the drug to create a “blunt” and smoke it. Some even brew it into tea or just simply mix it in with their food and consume it (NIDAT).
This widely known drug has been cultivated for its hallucinogenic properties for over 2000 years (ACDE). The reason it’s so illegal is for its mind-altering ingredient, THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The higher concentration the drug has of this chemical, the more potent its mind-altering properties will be (ACDE). Nowadays the drug’s average THC levels range between 0.3 to 4 percent. However, some specially grown plants can have up to 15 percent THC levels (HMW).
The drug works mainly by the chemical THC. When the drug is inhaled or consumed, the chemical is released into the bloodstream where it then travels to the brain and other organs. Only some parts of the brain called cannabinoid receptors, are susceptible to the chemical (NIDA). Once the chemical reaches these parts of the brain, it sets off a series of cellular reactions that lead to the “high” feeling or pleasant, relaxed sensation people feel.
Now that you know what marijuana is and its facts on what it can do, let's get into what people are saying about it. The majority of people are obviously against marijuana due to it being illegal for its notorious effects, but what about the small yet large community of people who use this drug? Don't they have a say in it too? Have you ever met someone who smokes or uses the drug recreationally? Have you yourself ever smoked marijuana? Not a lot of people like to admit it, but a hefty amount has “abused” this drug at least once or twice throughout their lives. Teens are the ones most susceptible to the drug due to how easily influenced they are, either by the media, other peers in their school, or by the group of people they hang around with. People of almost all ages smoke, or have induced marijuana in some way. I myself have never tried this drug since it has been illegal, and I am not too fond at breaking the law. Although, I cannot lie, I am extremely curious to feel the drug’s effects.
There are many myths to marijuana and its actual long term causes. Studies have been made, but are inconclusive. I cannot use government websites as sources for my “pro on marijuana” since they are strictly against it and would never allow to show any benefits to using this drug. The U.S government wants you to think this drug is bad, that it’s harmful and addictive, simply because it’s been illegal for years. Once something has been illegal for many years, it tends to stay illegal and harder to make legal. It’s all inertia.
For years, many people have been debating whether marijuana should be legalized here in the United States. Finally after so many years, something dramatic has occurred. Two states here on our beloved nation have recently legalized this drug, not only for medicinal purposes this time, but legalized it for recreational use as well. The states of Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana, but we mustn’t pull out the “cheetos” just yet though. The federal government still has power in state law and under its jurisdiction, marijuana is still an illicit drug. So in a way marijuana is still illegal in all our country.
A good question to ask is, “Why marijuana is illegal?” Have you yourself ever wondered why? You may have thought our government made marijuana illegal because of its “harmful” qualities, but the real reasons why are a bit surprising and go far back to the early 1900’s. Marijuana wasn’t always known as marijuana or cannabis; the drug was mainly known as hemp. Back then, hemp wasn’t known as a drug in the United States. Back in the day, marijuana or hemp was known for its many uses. It was actually considered illegal not to grow this plant. Hemp would be used for clothing, paper, fuel, and countless other useful things. It was until the famous Mexican bandit Pancho Villa and his army introduced the U.S to the plant as marijuana and that it can be used as a recreational drug. Back in those days, drugs could not be outlawed at a federal level, so in 1914, the Harrison Act was passed, so that revenue can be made from taxing drugs, such as cocaine, opiates, and marijuana. In 1930, a new division in the Treasury Department was established, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. A man named Harry J. Anslinger led the division and marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana. Anslinger was an ambitious man who recognized he had a magnificent career opportunity. For his division, he set out a goal to fight marijuana with the use of racism and violence. An actual quote from Anslinger proves his racism, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others (Guither).” Anslinger kept brainwashing the nation by promoting anti-marijuana movies that are filled with lies and deceit. He had additional help from a man named William Randolf Hearst who shared the same amount of racist hate. He was the owner of a huge chain of news papers who often wrote lurid lies about Mexicans and marijuana. Marijuana was officially made illegal at federal level thanks to the Marijuana Tax Act passed in 1937.
Does this sound like a legitimate reason to outlaw anything? Through racism and slander? Our nation outlawed marijuana through nothing but lies. Why is it still illegal? I’m sorry if I bored you with the story of how this drug became illegal, and sadly there’s more contributing factors why it became illegal; the point is for you to know it wasn’t made illegal through careful testing or reasonable causes. It was made illegal simply for the wrong reasons.
Marijuana compared to other highly known illicit or even licit drugs is by far the safest drug there is. Our country should focus more on other dangerous and addictive drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroine, not nature’s gift. Even tobacco and alcohol, which both are highly dangerous and addictive are legal here in our country. Why can’t marijuana be legal, just like tobacco and alcohol? Many people argue on how alcohol and tobacco are far worse than marijuana. As stated in the article “"Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth", the authors’ state “They (the people) argue that classifying a relatively benign drug (marijuana) as schedule I and vigorously prosecuting its sale and possession while permitting the legal use of substances that cause far more damage are inconsistent and illogical practices or policies.” So it doesn’t make sense that marijuana is illegal. 9 percent of marijuana users become dependent of the drug (whitehouse.gov), yet 75 percent of tobacco users are addicted. It is proven that tobacco carries many carcinogens that cause cancer, yet there is no actual evidence of marijuana causing cancer or any other diseases. Alcohol alone attributed to over 24,000 alcohol-induced deaths in 2009 (cdc.gov) and is addictive, and yet it is still legal in our country. Why you ask? Well I’ll tell you some reasons why. Both the alcohol and tobacco industry provide a huge amount of revenue for this country, but at what cost? Is it worth killing millions of people? How many deaths is it going to take for our government to realize how harmful alcohol and tobacco is? Another factor contributing to the non legalization of marijuana might be the tobacco industry going against it since they wouldn’t want to risk bringing their business down. I mean, what would you rather smoke? A cancer causing stick or a relaxing marijuana “joint?”
Marijuana can also contribute to this country’s wealth. We already spend billions of dollars a year enforcing drug control on marijuana alone. A lot of money can be made simply by legalizing marijuana and taxing the drug. The marijuana drug cartels in Mexico wouldn’t know what to do. They’d probably stop trafficking the drug since marijuana would be legal and the price of it would drop significantly. They wouldn’t purchase as much guns since they primarily buy weapons for the protection and security of their marijuana. Many things would change because of this drug. Many lives would change; many lives would be saved.
The real reason why the majority of people are against marijuana is simply because it’s illegal, it has been so for over 70 years. The reason why it was made illegal in the first place was cruel and un-American. Our country should open its eyes and see the truth. Alcohol and tobacco are far worse than marijuana, yet our country still has them legalized. There is no sufficient evidence to claim marijuana is harmful, so why shouldn’t marijuana be legalized. I’ve talked about this discourse as much as I could. I hope you were able to absorb this information as I did and realize that marijuana is not what it was perceived to be, that the government has no real reason to make marijuana illegal, that it should not be seen as something evil, but as something good, something that can change the world.
Why Is Marijuana Illegal? Youtube. February 8, 2008. MarijuanaPolicyPosse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7O4Sa8sGXk
DrugFacts: Marijuana. NIDA. November, 2010. National Institute on Drug the Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
Marijuana. NIDA for Teens. March, 2012. National Institute on Drug the Science of Drug Abuse. & Addiction http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php
Basic Facts About Drugs: Marijuana. ACDE. 1999, American Council for Drug Education’s. http://www.acde.org/common/Marijana.htm
Marijuana Potency. How Marijuana Works. How Stuff Works. http://science.howstuffworks.com/marijuana5.htm
Why is Marijuana Illegal? Pete Guither. 2012. Drug WarRant. http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/
FastStats. Alcohol Use. 2009. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/alcohol.htm
Joffe, Alain, and W Samuel Yancy. "Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth." Pediatrics, 113.6 (2004): e632-e638. (Peer Reviewed) http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=db916291-4959-46e7-bfaf-b2b323d65de8%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=126
Marijuana Resource Center. Frequently Asked Questions and Facts About Marijuana. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
I don't know if it's necessary to put my peer's commments or the intructor's since I ended up doing my paper on a completely new Discourse Community, so hey, here's the instructor's comment.
Alejandro, you have a solid start here--your paper is interesting and definitely well researched. It's going to need some tweaking before it's fitting the requirements of the prompt, however. The biggest thing to work with is that it's not really talking about a discourse community. Marijuana itself is not a discourse community--it's a thing. But it is a thing that serves as a central conversation in other discourse communities, as well as helps form other discourse communities. This is what you're going to have to work with--what discourse community are you examining through the exploration of this drug?
Conversation Clearly Articulated: Getting there. Definitely I can see sides to this issue, and each side has a lot to say. Right now you tend to obscure the voices of the sources you use, giving most of the info in your own words. Work to really make the sources, the voices, clear, with names and quotes. You're going to want to show specifically what people are saying as you craft the conversation regarding this issue.
Artifact Rhetorically Analyzed: Not yet. I don't see an artifact / text that you closely, rhetorically examine.
Clear Point/Purpose/Argument to Paper: Your argument is coming across pretty clearly right now, though it may need to change as you shift over to a stronger discourse community consideration.
Good luck with your revision!