The Cash Crop 1

The Cash Crop: Marijuana (Name Removed)

The Cash Crop 2

In the February 1938 edition of Popular Mechanics, hemp, the stalk portion of the cannabis plant, was named to be the “New Billion Dollar Crop.” Unfortunately, a bill had just been passed adding a substantial tax to the product, some say to give paper and cotton products a competitive advantage, effectively cutting short its ability and leading cannabis on the road to criminalization. Today, possessing or growing marijuana can be awarded with over five years in jail and substantial fines (Egelko, 2003). Though hemp remains legal, it has such stringent conditions, including government approval and permits, that farmers cannot meet the requirements to grow it. However, cannabis has persisted as a major product in the US in spite of these measures. According to surveys from 2001 by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, over a quarter of U.S. adults use marijuana (2002). The importation of hemp products are worth over $360 million (Brones, 2009). According to CNNMoney (2009), 2.6 million people lost their jobs in 2008. The Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget estimate that the deficit will be $1.4 trillion by the end of 2009 (Romer, 2009). The economy is often listed as one of Americans’ primary concerns. During this stressful economic time, shouldn’t the US take advantage of the lucrative and tenacious cannabis market? Cannabis needs to be federally legalized for private use in order to promote financial benefit through job creation, taxation, and through reducing the cost of importing hemp products as well as other benefits. Opponents of legalization cite undesirable social and physical effects of marijuana as their reasoning. The primary issues named are impaired cognitive ability, negative physical effects associated with the lung, reproductive organs, and the heart, addictiveness, and potential as a gateway drug (CDC, 1982; Time, 1968). Studies have shown that marijuana can inhibit users’ ability to “focus, sustain attention, and organize data…for as long as 24 hours” (ACDE,

The Cash Crop 3 2002). Many studies have associated marijuana use with short-term memory loss while under its influence. Additionally, users experience increased heart rate for up to an hour after taking marijuana (USDEA, n.d.). In addition to physical side effects, opponents are concerned about social implications linked with marijuana use. Many users seem to become lethargic, and some people are concerned that this may lead users to become unproductive members of society. Perhaps the biggest worry is the connection between marijuana users and users of other drugs as many users of harder drugs, such as heroin, have reported using marijuana (Time, 1968). . While some of these effects are accurate, many have been proven either false or

inconclusive through other studies. To begin with, nearly all physicians concede that physical effects, such as on cognitive ability, last only as long as the effects (2-3 hours) and people who are not pre-psychotic experience no adverse psychological reactions (Time, 1968). As for social consequences, several studies indicate that how a person expects to react to marijuana will affect the actual reaction, even in placebo tests (Friedman, Hicks, McCarth & Pedersen, 2009). Additionally, with the large number of marijuana users, if even one in five marijuana users moved on to harder drugs, the number of users of those drugs would be much larger, according to results of surveys completed by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. However, other studies have shown the number of marijuana users to be much larger, further eroding the “gateway” theory (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). One large concern over the smoking of marijuana has
Past Month Illicit Drug Use among Persons Aged 12 or Older: 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings *Other studies indicate the number of marijuana users to be far greater

been its contribution to lung cancer, but recent studies have given pause to that argument. In fact,

The Cash Crop 4 an article by Charlene Laino from WebMD recounts how in studies on mice with lung cancer THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, “cut lung tumor growth in half and helped prevent the cancer from spreading” (2007). Another article relates a study that was attempting to prove the association between marijuana use and lung cancer, but found just the opposite. Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, whose work has been used by the government, found that there was “was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect” even in regular to heavy marijuana users (Kaufman, 2006). Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, a psychiatrist in California and formerly a consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health, has been able to study over 100 years of records on cannabis (Time, 1968). As noted in Time, Dr. Mikuriya has seen no evidence of physiological addiction and therefore “little or no build up of tolerance” and no withdrawal symptoms (1968). His studies also show that it would be nearly impossible to kill a person through marijuana use as killing “one mouse requires 40,000 times the dose [of THC] that makes a man high;” killing a person would take much more (Time, 1968). It only takes “20 times the relaxant dose of alcohol” to kill a man.
Opponents of legalization portray marijuana

In fact, when comparing marijuana’s risks to those of our current legal drugs, prohibition of the plant seems anomalous. For example, while marijuana appears to have no negative

as hazardous to people’s health, but there has never been a case of someone dying from marijuana use or overdose (Cloud, 2002). In contrast, 23 thousand people die from prescription medication overdose, 79 thousand from alcohol poisoning and related conditions, and well over 400 thousand people die from effects directly related to cigarette smoking (ASTHO, 2008; CDC, August 2008; CDC, May 2009).

effects on the lungs, cigarettes contribute directly to nearly 90% of lung cancer deaths (CDC, May 2009). Alcohol leads to about 79,000 deaths and an untold number of hangovers (CDC,

The Cash Crop 5 August 2008). In addition to that, alcohol is reported as a factor by 35% of victims of violence and two-thirds of “intimate partner violence” (CDC, 2008). Alcohol poisoning is also a serious concern. As noted earlier, only twenty times a normal amount of alcohol can kill someone, while a 160lb man would have to ingest THC equal to about “900 joints,” (a cigarette-like amount) in one sitting in order to risk poisoning, while most users do not even smoke a single joint in one sitting (Cloud, 2002). Of course, saying that something is no worse than another is hardly a solid argument, so what benefits does marijuana provide? First, there are a number of medical uses with fewer side effects compared to prescription drugs. Mr. Trujillo, the author’s father in-law, has suffered from polio since early childhood, and after trying a myriad of prescription pills, was prescribed medical marijuana by his doctor. Mr. Trujillo, age 50, describes his reasoning: “I suffer a lot from restless nerves at night and it helps me to relax and go to sleep so I can get through the next day… When you take medication, you become addicted to it, but I can go without [marijuana] for a day, but with [prescription pills] I get that “medicine-head” and have to constantly take it. And with [prescription pills] you get all those side-effects, and with [marijuana] you don’t get any of those…I feel like a regular person” (D. Trujillo, personal communication, Nov. 9, 2009). Mr. Trujillo is not alone. Although many people relate glaucoma to medicinal marijuana use, it is actually not always the best choice because it must be used often (several times a day) to relieve intraocular pressure (Glaucoma Research Foundation, n.d.). However, marijuana has shown considerable benefits for patients undergoing chemotherapy, a treatment that often causes them to feel nauseous and causes vomiting which brings about anorexia and cachexia (NCI, 2000). Research from the National Cancer Institute (2000) has shown that marijuana, in cigarette form or its synthetic form, Marinol, helps to decrease nausea and increase appetite. They also note that the THC in
Kenmore, Co. in Kerry, Ireland built this house using hemp products (2009).

The Cash Crop 6 natural marijuana cigarettes absorbs more quickly than the manufactured form. Marijuana also has great potential as a pain reliever, especially with diseases causing nerve problems like polio, and in aiding aids patients and the like with appetite and other issues. Separate from the drug portion of the hemp provides a number of benefits as well. the stalk of the plant while marijuana mainly of the leaves and flowers. Hemp is particularly material because the stalk is comprised of very plant, Hemp is comprised useful as a strong

fibers and hurds, a pulp-like substance (Priesnitz, 2009). As Rolf Priesnitz relates in his article “Hemp for Houses,” hemp can be used in a variety of construction projects (2009). It can be used in nearly every part of a house; from foundation to roofing, hemp provides an often more affordable, stronger, and environmentally friendly material compared to traditional sources (Priesnitz, 2009). Another use for the plant is hemp paper. Hemp is a stronger, more durable, and more recyclable material than wood paper. In fact, hemp paper was the first modern paper, created in China, and the U.S. Constitution was drafted on it (Paper Industry Association Council, 2009). Hemp can also be used as a food source and is high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Perhaps during these times of economic uncertainty, the most compelling benefit that legalization can provide is financial. As Hans
Farmer harvesting hemp.

Fastre, the CEO of the largest hemp foods company in the U.S. relates, “If hemp farmers
Hemp fiber is used to make a variety of products, including dog collars, clothing, and rope (Pooch N Caboodle, 2008).

are able to grow hemp, we’ll be able to better supply U.S. consumers with more affordable hemp foods, from locally

grown hemp seeds, while directly supporting American farmers,” (Brones, 2009). His company alone is expected to import over $2 million in hemp seeds next year (Brones, 2009). Not only

The Cash Crop 7 could legalization provide jobs for farmers, but like with alcohol and cigarette sales, carries potential jobs in quality control, sales, and other markets. With the unemployment rate currently at 7.2%, about 2.6 million people, a new market could help many people take care of their family and necessities (Goldman, 2009). In addition to saving and creating jobs, legalization could save the U.S. money on imports as well as create money from taxes. The hemp industry in North America brings in over $360 billion dollars, but the U.S. is able to regulations and must pay to import our hemp products (Brones, 2009). In just the raw materials of hemp, the U.S. imported nearly 2 million pounds of hemp fiber, yarn and fabric in 1999 (USDA, 2001). About a quarter of adults in the U.S. smoke marijuana and a about a quarter of adults smoke cigarettes, but the U.S. only benefits from one (NHSDA, 2002;, 2009). According to the CDC (September 2009), in 2007 states received $24.9 billion in taxes and settlements from the tobacco industry. In California, the USDA estimates that the marijuana industry is valued at $14 billion a year, making it the state’s largest agricultural commodity (Stateman, 2009). The state’s tax collectors estimate that if marijuana were to be legalized and taxed, it could “bring in about $1.3 billion a year in much needed revenue,” (Stateman, 2009). The national implications are even greater. Legalizing marijuana has the potential to improve the lives of Americans in a number of ways. Patients suffering from a variety of ailments and not wishing to endure the side effects of pharmaceutical medication can relieve themselves without fear of federal retribution. Farmers can begin production of an environmentally friendly and stable commodity that has a sound market. The economy can enjoy a boost in production and workers from quality control to sales

The Cash Crop 8 can enter through a new field. Furthermore, the U.S. budget will secure money otherwise spent on imports and receive funds from taxes to contribute to a balanced budget. Other than shortterm effects comparable to those of alcohol, marijuana has no proven negative repercussions. With so much to gain and so little to lose, legalizing marijuana is the common sense choice of action.

The Cash Crop 9

References American Council for Drug Education. (2002). Basic facts about drugs: marijuana. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. (2008). Prescription drug overdose: state health agencies respond. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2009, from Brones, A. (October 2009). Legalize it and I will industrialize it: industrial hemp is the engine to kickstart this economy. The Huffington Post. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2009, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (August 2008). General information on alcohol use and health. Quick Stats. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (May 2009). Health effects of cigarette smoking. Smoking and Tobacco Use. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from g/index.htm. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (September 2009). Morbidity and mortality (related to tobacco use). Fast Facts. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from /data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast/index.htm Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (August 1982). The surgeon general’s warning on marijuana. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from Cloud, J. (2002). Is pot food for you? Time. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from

The Cash Crop 10,8816,1003570,00.htm (2002). Alcohol statistics. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2009, from Egelko, B. (2003). Convicted pot grower Rosenthal is spared jail time. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2009, from f=/c/a/2003/06/05/MN291734.DTL Friedman, R. S., Hicks, J. A., McCarthy, D. M., & Pedersen, S. L. (May 2009). Marijuana primes, marijuana expectancies, and arithmetic efficiency. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70(3), p. 391-399. Retrieved Oct. 4, 2009, from Gale PowerSearch. Glaucoma Research Foundation. (n.d.) Medical marijuana. Treatment. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2009, from Goldman, D. (January 2009). Worst year for jobs since ’45. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2009, from Hemp Crop. (n.d.). [Graphic]. Flicker. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2009, from Kaufman, M. (May 2006). Study finds no cancer-marijuana connection. The Washington Post. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2009, from Kerry house built using hemp. (2009). [Graphic]. 1st International Hemp Building Symposium. Retrieved Nov. 23, 20009, from Laino, C. (April 2007). Marijuana may fight lung tumors. WebMD Health News. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2009, from

The Cash Crop 11 National Cancer Institute. (December, 2000). Marijuana use in supportive care for cancer patients. U.S. National Institutes for Health. Retrieved Nov. 9, 2009, from National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. (October 2002). Drug use trends. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2009, from National Institute on Drug Abuse. (July 2009). Prescription and over-the-counter medications. NIDA InfoFacts. Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from Paper Industry Association Council. (2009) Paper & the environment. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2009, from Pooch N Caboodle. (2008). [Graphic]. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2009, from Popular Mechanics. (February 1938). New billion-dollar crop. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2009, from Schaffer Library of Drug Policy at Priesnitz, R. (2009). Hemp for houses: houses built from hemp have been found to use less energy, create less waste, and take less fuel to heat than conventionally constructed homes. Natural Life, March-April, 14-18. Retrieved Oct. 4, 2009, from Gale PowerSearch. (2009). 25 questions answered about smoking and your health. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2009, from Romer, C. D. (October 2009). Health care reform and the budget deficit. Center for American

The Cash Crop 12 Progress. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2009, from Stateman, A. (March 2009). Can marijuana help rescue California’s economy? Time. Retrieved Oct. 6, 2009, from,8816,1884956,00.html Time. (April 1968). Pot: safer than alcohol? Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from,9171,838231,00.html United States Department of Agriculture. (February 2001). U.S. hemp fiber and fabric imports. Industrial Hemp in the United States. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2009, from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). National survey on drug use and health: national findings. Office of Applied Studies. Retrieved November 9, 2009, from United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Exposing the myth of medical marijuana. United States Department of Justice Retrieved Oct. 24, 2009, from

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