Cannabis has been smoked since prior to history being recorded. Also known as marijuana, Mary Jane, chronic, bud and a host of other titles, cannabis is a flowering plant classified under the Hemp family. It produces psychoactive cannabinoids traditionally cultivated for a host of domestic uses including construction, textiles and clothing to food sources, medicinal uses and biofuel; with its countless commercial possibilities and its budding medicinal applications it is becoming more and more obvious that the cannabis plant should be declared a schedule two drug instead of its current status of schedule one.
In recent times, the Cannabis plant has been in the headlines in debates of legality, with popular medicinal and domestic victories in states like Colorado and Washington. For some time now, Californians have been illegally cultivating the plant, despite being banned by Federal law. With a recent rejection of Proposition 19 by a 54 percent ballot, the prospect of overturning of the unpopular decision seemed grim, although the 1996 passing of Proposition 215 legalized its medical use for severe illnesses, in conflict with federal law.
In 2012, according to a Tulchin research poll, 65 percent of the state population was in favor of a proposal to legalize regulation and taxation of the plant for adult usage, with only 32 percent opposed and another three percent undecided. The plant has the most popular recreational use around the planet, and although it is currently illegal in most countries, a number of countries are choosing to decriminalize the plant specifically for its medicinal value as a schedule two drug for its clear widespread appeal. Many supporters argue against the plant’s schedule one classification, due to it being identified as having no medical use while more severe drugs like cocaine and other opiates found in prescription pills have a schedule two classification.
U.S. Representative Steve Cohen recently went toe-to-toe with the Deputy Director of Drug Control Policy, citing the recent passing of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a direct correlation of the improper treatment of cannabis as an illicit drug, while more severe drugs like heroin and meth ravage the American populous without any red flag headlines. At Tuesday’s hearing, Cohen is cited saying, “It is ludicrous, absurd, crazy, to have marijuana in the same level as heroin.” As he slammed the federal policy, Deputy Director Michael Botticelli had no rebuttal for his convincingly obvious argument.
There has not been a single recorded death from marijuana use in history, while approximately hundreds of thousands of people die annually from prescription drugs. Dr. Paul Hornby is quoted in the IBTimes saying that he has “heard you have to smoke something like 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol,” which has been denoted as physically impossible. Meanwhile, a host of about 200 conditions, moderate to severe, are scientifically proven to alleviate and even improve with marijuana consumption. Studies show that conditions as severe as Cancer and HIV to minor issues like depression and anxiety have been remedied with the use of cannabis.
PBS’s Frontline ventures into the history of the relationship of the U.S. and cannabis, stating that, every farmer was required to grow hemp in 1619 by the Virginia Assembly legislation. In Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland hemp was also allowed to be exchanged as legal tender.”
In 1936, the infamous propaganda film Reefer Madness played a major factor in spreading misinformation on the plant by depicting young people smoking it and becoming rabid and deranged rapist. Most of the young users depicted were of the minority. The same year The Motion Pictures Association of America banned the showing of any narcotics in films.
Two federal laws, the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956, set a mandatory sentencing on all drug-related offenses, with a minimum of 2-10 years sentence for marijuana and fines of up to $20,000. The proven dissemination of propaganda against the plant has made its illegal status highly unpopular in present times as a schedule one drug; a majority of pop cultural icons stand resolute for pro-legalization of cannabis in hopes that an indisputable schedule two status may ensue.
By Michael Augustine