The question has come before us, “Should marijuana be legalized”? My answer could go either way. If we were to make it legal just for the essence of the use for pharmaceutical purposes, then I say no. The reason being is the younger generation will more or less look at the substance for its use as a party drug and not for the legitimate purposes for which it could be used. For several years now the medicinal value of marijuana or “cannabis sativa” has been known. In 1997 The National Institute of Health (NIH) released documentation showing the positive uses of marijuana in the medical field. The report showed that marijuana:
1. Has an effective use in alleviating cachexia and the stimulation of appetites in patients with HIV.
2. As an effective agent in controlling nausea and vomiting as it is associated to those taking cancer related chemotherapy.
3. Used in relieving intraocular pressure on patients who suffer from diabetic retinopathy?
4. As an analgesic.
5. And as a control agent for those suffering from neurological and muscular control issues.
There have been other areas where the use of marijuana has been found effective that weren’t covered in this particular study. Other issues have arisen over the plants effectiveness, seeing THC levels vary in organically grown plants and seeing the majority of marijuana entering the United States comes via illegal importation and are grown under conditions which we have no control over. Another issue that comes to hand is the control corporate America has. Currently Unimed Pharmaceuticals manufactures a synthetic version of THC that goes under the name Marinol (dronabinol). And companies like DuPont who manufacture the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers which are used for in the growth factor in most crops would lose billions of dollars in business. Marijuana as a crop needs little if not any of the chemicals used in the plant production. It is insect tolerant and uses hardly any essential elements in the soil, making it a self sufficient plant. Another quality the plant holds is that it can be grown in almost any environment.
The main issue lies with corporate America. Prior to 1940, marijuana or hemp was a major cash crop. It was about this time in the history of the industrialized markets that the use of synthetics began taking hold. Andrew Mellon who owns Mellon Bank and at the time was Secretary of the Treasury saw a need to protect certain investments which the bank held interest in. Two of the banks major investments were in the Hearst Corporation and DuPont Industries. Prior to the depression William Randolph Hearst was a player in the newspaper industry and DuPont was a manufacturer of explosives. Each making an effort to expand their company’s holdings with Andrew Mellon being the major financier. Hearst had purchased large tracts of timberland and numerous saw and pulp mills, while DuPont had ventured into the synthetic chemical markets. Several of DuPont’s products played keyed factors in the agricultural sector. They had begun processing various herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers and hemp as a crop didn’t require the use of any of these products to an extreme like that of other crops. So, continued growth would play a factor in the chemical industry. Second with Hearst, the issue lied with his ownership of the timberland; he now had a vast reserve for wood pulp to make paper and with new chemicals being developed to break down that pulp use of hemp as an agent in paper was out of the question. As far as a pharmaceutical there are about 400 species of marijuana or “industrialized hemp” with only about 9% of these species having a high level of THC content making it a narcotic. For an individual to receive a psychoactive dose one would have to power smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes in an extremely short period of time. (“The history and,” 2009}
With the repeal of prohibition numerous employees associated with the Bureau of Alcohol were released from service. One of whom was Harry Anslinger, son-in-law to Andrew Mellon. Mellon saw fit to aid those members of the Bureau of Alcohol by pushing for a federal office to control organic products used for medicinal purposes. Hence, the Bureau of Narcotics was founded with Anslinger heading up that office. In 1937,”the Marijuana Act” was passed in order to control the growth of hemp or cannabis sativa as a medicinal plant and to avoid mistaking those plants that were high in content of the chemical THC, the government place a band on the growth of all hemp crops in the United States. (Turner, 1998)
There are numerous facts that are less known about hemp itself. Historically it has been grown for use as paper and as fiber for cloth for over 12,000 years. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that used hemp in the production of paper. And Jefferson even drafted “The Declaration of Independence “on hemp paper. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
Industrially, Henry Ford experimented with plastics made from hemp in the production of his automobiles. Initially he wanted to build and fuel cars from farm products. Much of the bird seed sold in the United States contains hemp seeds which contain 25% more protein than sunflower seeds. Hemp oil was once used to oil machinery. Most paints, varnishes and shellacs were made from linseed and hemp oil and Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on hemp oil. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
Scientifically, both industrial hemp and marijuana are classified as cannabis sativa with over 400 species and is closely related to the mulberry plant. Industrial hemp is grown to maximize fiber, seed and/ or oil, while marijuana is bred to maximize the THC content. If hemp happens to pollinate nearby marijuana plants the result is a plant with lower THC content. Hemp fibers are longer and stronger; and have a higher mildew resistance than cotton. And hemp fibers can be made into fabrics with higher quality than linen. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
Legally, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency considers all plants classified as cannabis sativa as marijuana. It is theoretically possible to get permission from the government to grow hemp; however one would be required to fence in the field with security grade fencing and razor wire, have armed guards around the area and have attack dogs on premises. Flood lights would also be required making it cost prohibitive. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
Ecologically, hemp cannot hide marijuana as it’s growing, hemp is mainly grown for its stalks and is grown in tightly knit rows where marijuana is grown for its leaves and is grown in wide open rows. Hemp can be made into high grade paper and its long fibers allow it to be recycled more frequently that wood pulp products. Because of its low lignin content, hemp can be pulped with a lower chemical usage and the fibers provided for brighter paper using less chlorine bleach which allows for less dioxins being released into our watersheds. It can be grown in virtually any climate, using less water and nutrients from the soil and it requires no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. The plant is virtually disease and insect free. Hemp can displace wood fiber, thus allowing forest regions for habitation of wildlife, oxygenation of the atmosphere and recreational usage. And the plant yields 3-8 cubic tons of fiber per acre compared what the same forest can yield. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
Finally, health wise, for one to get a “good buzz” from ingesting hemp, one would have to intake enough of the product equaling 2-3 doses of a high grade fiber laxative. And at a volume of 81%, hemp oil is the richest known source of polyunsaturated fat, essential for lowering cholesterol. It is also high in amino acids needed for proper cellular growth. (North American Hemp Council, 1997)
I see no reason why hemp shouldn’t be grown. As a plant it is one of the most bio-diversifiable crops around and with its many uses one of the safest crops known to man. The only reason it’s no longer in used is the control big business has on the use of organically grown crops.
North American Hemp Council, . (1997, October). Hemp facts. Retrieved
The history and benefits of hemp. (2009, February 19). Retrieved from
Turner, E. J. (1998). The marijuana tax act “1937”. Retrieved from