NOTE: THIS PAPER REC’D AN “A” grade at a Calif. Community College……YEAR 2002, Admin. Of Justice class….

The United States is a country full of controversy. It was even settled by people

who had come from a country in the midst of controversy. Many controversial issues do

not have a clear solution that makes everyone happy and oftentimes a compromise is

essential in order to move on.

When it comes to the controversy of legalizing marijuana, however, the best

approach would be a listing of the pros and cons. To fully understand the issue, it is

only rational to include any and all pertinent information based on facts and research—

not strictly opinion. To complete this approach, I have decided to go back thousands

of years for enlightening historical information on the use and abuse of this drug.

In China, (4,000 B.C.) the marijuana plant was used as an "all-purpose"

medication. It was not as popular as other cures that were available, stronger, and

thereby more effective.

In India, (2,000 B.C.) marijuana was used in tea for spiritual rituals such as to be

closer to God. It grew wild throughout the countryside. Eventually it was smoked,

which lead to an increase in preparation and distribution methods, especially for profit.

It became an expensive, mind-altering, euphoric drug.

From India, the use of marijuana spread to the Middle East. Muslims were

forbidden to partake in alcohol, so they leaned towards marijuana use instead. The

Arabs then invaded North Africa in the 9-12th century and from there the drug

eventually spread throughout Europe.

Upon France\'s invasion/conquerance of Egypt in the 1800\'s, (with very little

resistance due to the populous being in a perpetual state of drug stupor!), Napoleon

decreed the use of hashish (a form of the drug) forbidden in all forms. Drug abuse was

considered a major cause for Egypt\'s decline as a nation.

The drug\'s initial spread to the West (late 1800\'s) was for scientific

experimentation. England was prescribing it for a variety of ills: epilepsy, rheumatism,

and menstrual cramps. It was introduced there, post war, due to a need for workers

who migrated from India and Turkey, bringing the centuries-old smoking habit with


As for the United States, (1910) most of the supply came from Mexico, and the

predominant use was among poor black and Mexican workers throughout Texas and

Louisiana. After World War II, jazz music had become popular especially in New

Orleans. Many black musicians picked up the habit. Its\' use spread up the Mississippi

River and on out from the big cities. Because it was used so much in Louisiana, many

negative articles popped up in the media. People started to assume all crimes were

black related and marijuana related. This negative press led to an outspoken critic,

Harry Anslinger.

This man was the Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He was

instrumental in the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This act prohibited the

cultivation, possession, and distribution of hemp plants with the exception of the rope

and seed (if sterilized) industries.

However, jazz music had begun to evolve into rock music along with the growing

Hippie culture. Marijuana was a part of that movement. The so-called “swinger” crowd

of the 50\'s, 60\'s, and soon even the high school and college crowd of the 70\'s had

rebellion in common. This would be rebellion against authorities and traditional Puritan

values. Therefore marijuana = rebellion. Before the country truly grasped what had

been occurring, 20 million were regular pot smokers. At the time, there was not enough

convincing evidence against its use. It was socially popular and acceptable. Even public

entities were supportive such as the American Bar Association and the American Public

Health Association.

After studying the history and spread of the drug, I want to begin by first

discussing the positives of marijuana use and legalization. The positive attitude was in

full swing by the 70’s. For some of us, the smell of pot permeated after-football game

parties. It was all part of the “fun” of being a teenager. Compared to the scary stories

we were hearing about PCP or LSD, pot seemed so docile.

Our opinions at the time were fueled especially by the media. “Most evidence