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A History of the Drug Marijuana: Research of Its Affects and Why It Is Such a Controversial Drug

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Running head: A History of the Drug Marijuana and Research

A History of the Drug Marijuana: Research of its Affects

and why it is Such a Controversial Drug

Mitchell Hubbard

John Brown University


This paper explores the controversial Drug Marijuana. It is meant to inform people of the history of this drug, how it came to be, when it was first used, when and how it came to the United States of America, and how it became one of the most widely used illegal drugs used in the US. The information provided is there to help you become more informed on how this drug is used and how people are using it. Along with what the effects it has on your body and long term effects one can expect to encounter due to long term use. Then it will discuss how it is being looked at in politics today and why it is a drug of conversation. I will than look at some of the widely accepted myths of marijuana and fill you in on why those are not necessarily absolute falsified facts but why there is no evidence to prove that those are true.

One of the most controversial drugs in the United States today is also one of the most highly debated drugs in America. This is the drug Marijuana, also known as hemp. This drug, however controversial today, is not in the least bit a new thing. With the help of concept420.com, marijuanahistory.net, and time.com, I have put together a history of marijuana. Marijuana has been used as a substance for achieving the effects known as a "high" since ancient times. The first record we have of this drug being used as a "psychoactive agent" was in 2737 BC in the written records kept by the then Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. He directed it to be used to research its uses in medicine to work as medications for such things as gout, malaria, rheumatism, and even absentmindedness. He discovered its intoxicating effect but considered what he thought its power in medicine to be a much bigger discovery. Marijuana in India was a much more recreationally used drug because of their mostly Muslim religion and the banning of alcohol by their book, the Quran, so they sought after something else to give them the euphoric effect that they were not allowed to get from alcohol. It was these Muslims who introduced a new form of Marijuana into the world known as hashish which swiftly became popular and helped the spread of this drug throughout the rest of the world.

So how did this drug make its way to America and how did it go from being a popular and highly thought of drug in the ancient days to the most controversial drug in the United States today? In 1545 marijuana was first brought to the New World by the Spanish explorers. Than it was the English pilgrims who introduced it by bringing it to Jamestown in 1611 where it became a major commercial crop alongside with tobacco and was grown as a source of fiber.

It wasn't until 1890 that hemp had been replaced by cotton as a major cash crop in southern states. There were some medicines during this time that contained this drug marijuana, but it was a small percentage compared to the number containing opium or cocaine. Even then it wasn't until the 1920's that marijuana would start to be taken for recreational use and truly catch on. Some historians argue that it was the emergence of Prohibition that caused this to happen. Its recreational use was restricted to jazz musicians and people in show business. Reefer songs became the rage of the jazz world. Marijuana clubs, called tea pads, sprang up in every major city. These marijuana establishments were tolerated by the authorities because marijuana was not illegal and patrons showed no evidence of making a nuisance of themselves or disturbing the community. Marijuana was not considered a social threat.

Marijuana was one of the drugs listed in the United States Pharmacopeia in the years of 1850 to 1942 and was a substance that was prescribed for an assortment of conditions including labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism. Marijuana however was also used by people as an intoxicant from the 1850s to the 1930s. Due to this a campaign was conducted in the 1930s by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs). This campaigns sole purpose was reveal marijuana as a potent, addicting substance that would push users into having narcotics addictions. This campaign didn't expose this drug like they wanted to but it still is considered a "gateway" drug by some in authoritative positions.

With the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 marijuana was listed as a schedule I drug (a drug having the relatively highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use). Most marijuana in the United Stated at that time was coming from Mexico. In order to help in the eradication of the drug the Mexican government in 1975 agreed to get rid of the crop by spraying it with paraquat, a strong herbicide, which also raised fears of toxic side effects. After this occurred Colombia became the main supplier of marijuana to the US. Than the "zero tolerance" atmosphere created by that of the Reagan and Bush administrations resulted in the passing of strict laws and mandatory sentences for anyone in possession of marijuana and in turn heightened people's and the government's awareness against smuggling at the southern borders.

This, as it became know, is what we consider the "war on drugs". This "war on drugs" caused a swing from people's reliance on imported supplies to more of a reliance on domestically grown marijuana especially in the states of Hawaii and California. Due to this in 1982 the D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Administration) turned increased attention toward marijuana farms in the United States, and in turn there was, with the growers, a shift to indoor growing of the marijuana plants specifically developed for small size and high yield. After working so hard for almost a decade toward the decreasing use marijuana by the government and all its progress, smoking began to once again take an upward trend in the early 1990s, especially among teenagers.

Now what exactly is marijuana and why has the government gone to such extreme lengths to try and decrease its use in the US? This was the question that immediately came to my mind when I heard this. Marijuana according to nida.nih.gov is "a drug made from the dried, shredded leaves, seeds, stems, and flowers, of a plant in the genus Cannabis. The term cannabis generally refers to marijuana and other drugs made from the same plant, including



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