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Victim of The State: The Criminalization of Cannabis

Victim of The State: The Criminalization of Cannabis

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Published by peterbadgely
The plant known as cannabis has existed for ages. More commonly referred to as marijuana, this plant has been a subject of controversy in recent times. This paper (written May 27, 2000) will discuss the historical origins of marijuana and industrial hemp, and explain how this useful plant has developed such a bad reputation.
The plant known as cannabis has existed for ages. More commonly referred to as marijuana, this plant has been a subject of controversy in recent times. This paper (written May 27, 2000) will discuss the historical origins of marijuana and industrial hemp, and explain how this useful plant has developed such a bad reputation.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: peterbadgely on May 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/25/2013

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 Victims of the State: The Criminalization of CannabisBy Robert Moore, 3EIntroductionThe plant known as cannabis has existed for ages.
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More commonly referred to asmarijuana, this plant has been a subject of controversy in recent times.
2
This paper willdiscuss the historical origins of marijuana and industrial hemp, and explain how thisuseful plant has developed such a bad reputation.I. A Brief History of CannabisA. What is it?Marijuana and hemp are products derived from the same plant, cannabis.
3
While“hemp” generally refers to the fibrous stalk of the plant, “marijuana” generally refers tothe “leaves and flowers.”
4
The active ingredient in the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol(THC).
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THC was not identified as the active ingredient in the cannabis plant until1974.
6
If inhaled through smoking, THC may cause such physiological effects as a“slight increase in pulse, decreased salivation, a slight reddening of the eyes, and someimpairment of psychomotor control.”
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The physiological effects of smoking marijuanaare maximized within thirty minutes of inhalation and the drug is metabolized quicklythroughout the body.
8
There
can
be some toxic effects from the ingestion of the drug.These effects include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, paranoid reactions, amnesia,
 
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chills, headache, and sweating.
9
Over 400 chemical entities have been identified in thecannabis plant, including 60 cannabinoids.
10
The most commonly studied cannabinoidsare delta-9-tetrahydrocannainol, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, andcannabinol.
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 It is the difference in THC content, which currently distinguishes marijuana andindustrial hemp on the state level.
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For example, legislation has been proposed in bothColorado and Kentucky which would require a THC level of less than 0.3% for acannabis plant to be “classified as hemp.”
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“Marijuana on the other hand, ranges fromone percent to over ten percent.”
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 B. Early UsesIndustrial hemp and marijuana share a similar history. An effort was not made todifferentiate between the two strains of cannabis until long after the plant arrived inAmerica over 10,000 years ago.
15
Five thousand years ago, cannabis was used as aremedy for “ rheumatism, and even menstrual cramps.”
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The Chinese used hemp to“produce cloth and used nutrient rich hemp for food and oil.”
17
 Europeans used hemp in the production of paper products, and during the 17
th
 century, hemp production in the colonies was “at its peak.”
18
Irish doctor, William B.O’Shaughnessy, studying at the Medical College of Calcutta, introduced cannabis intoWestern medicine in 1839. O’Shaughnessy studied information on cannabis, andconferred with the Hindu and Mohammedan scholars about its effects and uses. Hetested “the effects of various hemp preparations on animals, before attempting to usethem to treat humans.” Only after O’Shaughnessy was confident of the safety of 
 
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cannabis, he used it to treat his patients. He found it to have “analgesic and sedative properties,…[and] his most
 spectacular 
success [with cannabis] came…when hequelled the wrenching muscle spasms of tetanus and rabies with the fragrant resin.”
19
 European settlers brought the plant to America and used it in the production of “clothing, twine, rope, blankets and canvas.”
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The plant became so important to thelivelihood of the early settlers that some colonies required citizens to grow thesubstance, and fined those who didn’t harvest it.
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 Our own Founding Fathers encouraged the growth of cannabis and even grew itthemselves.
22
Ben Franklin used hemp in the production of paper at one of “America’sfirst paper mills.”
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During the middle of the nineteenth century, cannabis was added tothe United States Pharmacopoeia.
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Its medical applications ranged from treatment of epilepsy and tetanus to use as an analgesic.
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Cannabis was used as an “aphrodisiac, for neuralgia, to quiet maniacs, for the cure of chronic alcoholism and morphine and chloralhabits, for mental depression, hysteria, softening of the brain, nervous vomiting, for distressing cough, for St. Vitus’ Dance, and for…epileptic fits of the most appallingkind.”
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Marijuana was also touted as an effective “medicinal remedy” during the CivilWar, and was an ingredient in twenty-eight different medications.
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In fact, a Civil War edition of a book called
U.S. Dispensatory Extractum Cannabis
 
listed the many medical benefits of marijuana usage. It was used as an effective aphrodisiac, “to increaseappetite, and occasionally to induce the cataleptic state…to cause sleep, to allay spasm,to compose nervous inquietude,…to relieve pain,…neuralgia, gout, rheumatism,tetanus, hydrophobia,” convulsions, hysteria, insanity, and even uterine hemorrhage.
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