History of Marijuana (Legal Issues) Number

Historyof Marijuana (Legal Issues)


Tableof Contents

Introduction 3

History of Marijuana 3

Legal Status of Marijuana 5

Effects of Marijuana 6

Medical Marijuana 8

Conclusion 9

References 11

Marijuanaconstitutes of the dried leaves, flowers and seeds of a plant knownas Cannabis sativa and is commonly abused as an illicit drugthroughout the world. This is because it contains the chemical,tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol, cannabinol andtetra-hydrocannabivarin[ CITATION Jea l 1033 ].These active ingredients alter the functioning of the brain. Thisdrug is mostly smoked, similar to cigarettes or mixed with tobaccoand smoked as cigars, thus passes through the lungs into the bloodstream. The drug can also be ingested when taken in mixture of foodsor drinks, for example baked foods and tea. The drug is also used asa form of treatment referred to as herbal therapy. Over four percentof the adult population throughout the world use marijuana every yearwith daily usage constituting one percent. This is contrary to thefact that the use of marijuana is illegal in most regions. This paperlooks into the history of marijuana from a legal point of view. It`sevident that, the substance has brought along diverse aspects withreference to how it’s used as well as when and how it should belegalized(Mack&amp Joy, 2001).

Historyof Marijuana

Cannabisis an indigenous plant to present day Asia and its existence can bedated back up to 12000 years. Ancient Greeks and Romans also used itand later on it spread to Spain and the Americas. Cannabis grew indifferent regions throughout the world as weeds, especially in humidand tropical regions. The cannabis plant has two subspecies Cannabissativa which is commonly referred to as marijuana and haspsychoactive elements and Cannabis sativa L. Commonly known as hempand used in industries in the manufacture of cloth, oil and fuel.Cannabis indica, which is also psychoactive, and Cannabis ruderalisare also subspecies of the Cannabis plant.[ CITATION Spr80 l 1033 ]

Inmediaeval times the drug was used in religious ceremonies and itspsychoactive properties led the religious masters into a trance andalso for medicinal use, especially for reducing pain duringchildbirth (Mallon, 2015). It has therefore been historically legaland it is only recently that the drug has been deemed to be illegal.In the USA regulation of the drug began in the 1600s. By 1930 theUniform State Narcotic Drug Act enabled regulation of the drug in allstates[ CITATION Jon12 l 1033 ].Although Federal laws are strict on the supply and use of the drug,many states abolished the ban on the sale and ownership of the drugfor both recreational and medicinal purposes.

Inrecent times, the pot culture has spread throughout the world at analarming rate garnering support from millions of people throughoutthe world especially the youth. This explains the mass movements indifferent parts of the world in an effort to legalize marijuana. This can be highly attributed to the Rastafari Movement, which isbelieved to have originated from the Caribbean and Ethiopia. TheRastafarians worship Haile Selassie 1, who was an emperor of Ethiopia(Shohov,2003).They believe he is an incarnation of Jesus referring him to JahRastafari. The movement includes the use of cannabis for spiritualpurposes, believing the drug connects them to their God. They regardmarijuana sacred and use it as a sacrament to aid in spiritualmeditation. This can however be referred to the psychoactive effectsof the drug. Apart from getting them closer to God, they believe thedrug is capable of curing many ailments. This pot culture has spreadthroughout the world with the aid of reggae music which spreads theRastafarian movement. In India and Nepal the use of cannabis inrituals such as cleansing one of their sins has also contributed tothe spread of the cannabis culture though to a lesser extent (Newton,2013).

LegalStatus of Marijuana

Marijuanapasses to be the most trafficked illicit drug, especially in theblack market and in an effort to counter this most countries haveestablished laws to control its usage. These legislative measureswere taken especially in the 20thCentury. The penalty for possession of marijuana varies from regionto region relative to the laws in place. This ranges from fines andconfiscation, to imprisonments and in recent times, most countrieshave substantially reduced these penalties. Many countries allow theuse of marijuana only for medical, scientific and industrial usesonly. Drug tests are common in many countries and detection ofmarijuana has subsequent consequences. In the United States ofAmerica the regulation of the plant Cannabis sativa began as early as1619. By the 20thcentury the sale of the drug was prohibited and it was regarded as apoison. This is because habitual abuse of the drug was increasing andadverse effects of the same were reported[ CITATION Jea l 1033 ].

However,through the Washington Initiative 502, the state of Washington in theUnited States of America became the first state to legalize the useof marijuana. The law was passed in November 2012 by popular vote andallows for use of marijuana in small quantities for adults above theage of twenty one. The drug is taxed and the revenue collected isdirected towards health care and education. Unrestricted growth ofmarijuana or excessive use of the same is illegal under thisjurisdiction. The state of Colorado, through Colorado Amendment 64also established measures to allow the controlled usage of marijuanain November 2012 similar to Washington. The states of Alaska andOregon have also legalized marijuana in recent times. In theNetherlands and Uruguay possession of marijuana is legal though incontrolled measures (Kleiman, 2014).

Thejustification to the legalization of marijuana is contentious andattracts support and opposition almost in equal measures. Theproponents of this legalization argue that the revenue collected fromthe production, manufacture and sale of this drug is necessary forfunding state development. This goes hand in hand with theelimination of the black market as far as marijuana trafficking isconcerned thus reducing criminal acts. Additionally, human rightsactivists argue that restriction of usage of marijuana as well as anyother substance is an infringement on individual freedom. Theopponents to this legislation fear that legalization of this drugwould go a long way in encouraging and increasing its usage. Thestate is also criticized for involvement in such amendments which areconsidered distant from its mandate to the citizens (Warf, 2014).

Thelegality of the substance (cannabis) varies from one nation to theother. In a good number of countries, cannabis possession is illegalwhich has been the case since 1930’s. Despite this, possession ofthe drug in smaller quantities has been decriminalized in a number ofcountries. An example of countries that has legalized the passion ofthe substance includes the Netherlands, Uruguay and some states inthe Unites States. On the other hand the use of medical marijuana hasbeen approved in some countries such as Canada, Israel and CzechRepublic among others. While the federal bans use and possession ofthe substance, then the use of it in a medical context brings out alegal issue as to what should be acceptable to the people, as well asthe law (Taylor, 2008).

Effectsof Marijuana

Marijuanahas adverse effects on human beings and ignorance to these effectshas contributed greatly to the continued advocacy for itslegalization. Young people are being misled and are graduallyperceiving this drug positively. Continued use of marijuana has shortterm and long term effects. The fact that marijuana is addictivemakes it difficult for individuals to halt its usage and thiscontributes to prolonged effects. Increased heart rate which lastsmore than two hours after intake is one of the immediate effects ofmarijuana. Other immediate effects are low blood pressure, reddeningof the eyes and increased appetite[ CITATION Jea l 1033 ].

Useof marijuana affects the normal functioning of the brain and this iswhat causes the ‘high’. When smoked, the chemical substances inthe drug are absorbed by the lungs into the bloodstream, then to thebrains and other parts of the body. Marijuana affects theendocannabinoid system which aids in normal brain communication,thus, one experiences impaired coordination, slow thinking, reducedmemory and mood change. The drug also affects brain development,especially in young people and may have irreversible effects. Thiscontributes greatly to reduced learning and memory capacities due tobrain impairment. In addition, the impaired brain functioning reduceseffective handling of machinery, increasing the chances of anaccident [ CITATION Jea l 1033 ].

Byaffecting the normal functioning of the brain as explained above, useof marijuana subsequently affects the mental health of users. Severalmental conditions have been linked to excessive use of marijuana.This is because the use of this drug over activates the brain, thuscausing one to have hallucinations. Use of marijuana also causesextreme depression and anxiety. It also triggers suicidal actions dueto low self-esteem. Most criminals also conduct their activitiesunder the influence of marijuana because the ‘high’ gives themconfidence and creates a barrier from their conscience [ CITATION Jon12 l 1033 ].

Smokingof marijuana also affects the respiratory system. The smoke irritatesthe lungs, causing the users to have chronic coughs and other chestproblems to a greater extent than tobacco users. The circulatorysystem is also affected due to the increased heart rate as mentionedearlier and this increases the chances of occurrence of heart attacksespecially for the elderly. When used by expectant mothers, the drugcan have permanent brain damage to the unborn baby. In men, marijuanareduces the sperm quality and count thus affecting their fertility.Prolonged use of marijuana also affects the immune system withreduced immunity to common illnesses such as the regular cold [ CITATION Jon12 l 1033 ].

Onthe other hand, positive effects of marijuana can be mentioned underthe medical use of the substance. However, the legality of themedical exposure to the substance has brought along different standsand in turn bringing the endless legal issues behind the use of thesubstance. One of the major downside about the marijuana useglobally, is the economic impact it has had as the fight againstillegal drug has intensified globally. The marijuana issue affectseveryone whether he/she knows the substance or not. For example,there are millions of tax dollars that has fruitlessly been used onthe drug war and marijuana prohibition, with no conclusive impact onthe cannabis use and culture (Kleiman, 2014).


Inmany countries the use of marijuana for medical purposes is allowedand this is referred to as herbal therapy. This is due to the THCeffect present in marijuana. It is used to relieve pain and nauseaespecially for cancer patients, and also for HIV/AIDS and arthritispatients. The drug can also be used to treat severe migraines.However, this is a contentious issue which is being reviewed becausesome medical experts argue that the health risk associated with thistreatment overweigh the benefits. Countries that have adopted theconstructive use of marijuana include Netherlands, Canada, Australiaand several states in the USA[ CITATION Mic14 l 1033 ].

Theterm ‘MedicalMarijuana’can be defines as the possession, use and cultivation of marijuanafor medical purposes. Despite being beneficial medically, the drug isclassified as schedule 1 drug, which means that, its usage has apotential to be abused, as well as the fact that, the drug lacks theaccepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.Despite its medical usage, the use of medical marijuana has raisedits legality. This issue has brought unending tussle between the lawmakers and the politicians with the health advocates. One side, thereis the politicians and the law makers, who has continually advocatedfor the control of the marijuana use terming it as an illegal drug.On the other hand, the health practitioners has advocated for thelegalization of the substance in the context of medical use, as theyhas termed it a valuable aid in treating a wide range of medicalconditions. Medical marijuana has in turn become a hotly debatedissue that affects lawyers, patients, healthcare providers, as welllaw enforcement officials alike (Ross, 2014).


Theuse of marijuana, especially in jurisdictions where it is illegalcontinues to be a hurdle for these nations. The drug is well spreadthroughout the world and therefore curbing its production is also achallenge. In addition acceptance of this drug by differentpopulations throughout the world promotes its usage especially amongyoung adults. On the other hand, when used well Cannabis can be usedin the medical field and also for industrial usage. Therefore, due tothe difference in laws, nations should consider both the positive andnegative impact of legalizing marijuana to achieve a balance toensure that the interests of the citizens are safeguarded, and alsoto enhance societal values. Cannabis is one of the oldest drugs to beused and abused however, the drug has over time been linked withdiverse views over its usage among people. On one side, differentlaws have been implemented to curb its usage and define it as anillegal drug to possess or use. On the other hand, the medicalpractitioners has advocated for its use due to medical benefits.These two sides have been the main source of the numerous legalissues behind the substance use.


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